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AAA Data Shows 4.8% Rise in Cost to Own, Operate Vehicle

(LOS ANGELES, April 8, 2010) – The 2010 edition of  AAA’s annual ‘Your Driving Costs’ study released today shows the average cost to own and operate a medium-sized sedan has risen 4.8 percent to 56.6 cents per mile, or $8,487 per year, based on 15,000 miles of annual driving. The “Your Driving Costs” brochure will be available at the local Automobile Club of Southern California branches.  A Southern California supplement calculating local costs to the new nationwide brochure will be released by the Auto Club in May. 
“Rising fuel prices are a key factor in this year’s ‘Your Driving Costs’ study. Paying more at the pump is not only increasing the operational costs of vehicles, but it’s also affecting depreciation values,” said Steve Mazor, manager of the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center. “With the growing appeal of more fuel efficient vehicles, small sedans are experiencing less depreciation and holding their value longer while we’re seeing notable rises in depreciation costs with categories of less fuel-efficient vehicles.”
Based on driving 15,000 miles a year
Small Sedan
Medium Sedan
Large Sedan
Sedan Average
Cost per mile
43.3 cents
56.2 cents
70.2 cents
56.6 cents
73.9 cents
62.0 cents
Cost per year
The 2010 edition of AAA’s ‘Your Driving Costs’ brochure includes in-depth information on five categories of vehicles and is available at select local AAA branch offices or may be downloaded at
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. 
Rising fuel, tire and insurance costs contribute to increase in overall costs
Increases in the costs of fuel, tires and insurance were the primary factors causing a rise in all categories of vehicles. At the time of the ‘Your Driving Costs’ calculations, the AAA Fuel Gauge Report listed the national average cost of regular unleaded gas as $2.603 per gallon, 12.7 percent higher than the cost of fuel in last year’s study.
The average costs of full coverage insurance on sedans also rose 5.7 percent over last year, while tire costs increased an average of 8.7 percent.
Small Sedan Category Sees Smallest Increase in Costs
The small sedan category experienced the smallest increase of the five categories of vehicles, rising only 2.9 percent from last year to 43.3 cents per mile or $6,496 per year, based on 15,000 miles of yearly driving. The minimal increase was primarily due to the increased popularity of small sedans caused by higher fuel prices. It resulted in the small sedan category being the only one where depreciation costs were lower than last year, falling 1.9 percent.
Rises in Depreciation Drive Up Ownership Costs for Large Sedans, SUVs and Minivans
As more consumers seek fuel efficient vehicles, categories of vehicles not known for good fuel economy were hit with sizable increases in deprecation. The SUV category experienced the largest increase with yearly depreciation rising 10.7 percent, or $484, to $5,003 yearly, based on driving 15,000 miles annually. Large sedans had a depreciation jump 6.1 percent to $4,828 yearly, while minivan depreciation increased 4.6 percent to $3,995 yearly.
60th year of AAA’s ‘Your Driving Costs’
AAA has published ‘Your Driving Costs’ since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost 9 cents per mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents per gallon.
AAA’s ‘Your Driving Costs’ study analyzes the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the U.S. Ownership costs factored into the study include the cost of insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. Operational costs in the study include fuel, maintenance and tires.
To conduct its study, AAA compiled detailed driving costs for small, medium, and large sedans. Driving costs in each category are based on the average costs 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 is also included in ‘Your Driving Costs’ to help buyers estimate operating costs for these types of vehicles. Selected models include:
  • SUVs – Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner.
  • Minivans – Nissan Quest, Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.
CST 1016202-80 Copyright © Automobile Club of Southern California. All Rights Reserved.
The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.