Cost Of Owning And Operating A New Vehicle Is Now 54.1 Cents Per Mile

(LOS ANGELES, April 4, 2008)The Automobile Club of Southern California’s 2008 edition of “Your Driving Costs” shows the cost of driving a passenger vehicle in the United States has increased 1.9 cents per mile in the last year and now averages 54.1 cents per mile.

“While the cost of some driving expenses declined since the start of 2007, higher gasoline prices have more than offset these savings and pushed the overall cost of vehicle ownership and operation higher this year,” said the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center Manager Steve Mazor. In 2008, AAA estimates it will cost $8,121 to own and operate a new passenger car driven 15,000 miles per year. This compares to $7,823 per year in 2007; or 52.2 cents per mile.

Costs for maintenance, full-coverage insurance; and depreciation are all slightly lower this year. While the costs for fuel, tires, financing, license, registration and taxes showed increases.

AAA’s study calculates the average costs of owning and operating five top-selling models in three popular size classes: small, medium and large sedans.

AAA’s research shows the annual average cost of driving a small sedan is $6,320 per year, while a large sedan costs $9,769 per year. AAA estimates the annual expense of owning and operating a typical minivan at $8,644 per year versus $10,448 for a four-wheel-drive mid-size SUV.

Southern California driving costs are higher than the national average in nearly all driving cost categories because of higher insurance, maintenance and gasoline costs, according to Mazor.

“Consumers are looking at a more than $28,000 average price tag to buy a new car,” he said. “New vehicles usually come with higher insurance premium costs, vehicle registrations and greater depreciation which add to the overall cost of operating a car.”

AAA’s study calculates the average costs of all expenses associated with owning and operating a vehicle over five years and 75,000 miles of driving. Driving costs in each category are based on the average expenses for five top-selling models selected by AAA. By size category they are:
  • Small sedan – Chevrolet Cobalt, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.
  • Medium Sedan – Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.
  • Large Sedan – Buick Lucerne, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon.
Though not part of the AAA composite average, SUV and minivan information has been included to help buyers estimate operating costs for these types of vehicles. SUV models include the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner. Minivan models are the Chevrolet Uplander, Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.

The calculated driving costs in the brochure include: finance charges and license fees incurred with car payments, depreciation, insurance, gasoline, maintenance and tires. Paid off used cars, by comparison, have much lower depreciation and insurance costs – reducing their driving costs by about one-third.

The brochure also contains a worksheet that can help a vehicle owner to calculate their own vehicle ownership and operating costs. This knowledge can help motorists make informed choices about their vehicle selection and use, according to Mazor.