AAA Study Says Ownership Costs Have Increased This Year

AAA's “Your Driving Costs” study for 2010 reveals that average ownership and upkeep costs have once again gone up.

AAA’s methodology factors major operating expenses -- fuel, maintenance, tires -- and standard ownership costs, which include full-coverage insurance, license, registration, taxes, depreciation, and finance charges. This year, the average cost to own and operate a sedan is 56.6 cents per mile, assuming an annual mileage of 15,000 miles. Unsurprisingly, 56.6 cents per mile is higher than last year -- 4.8-percent higher, to be exact -- with much of the pain felt at the pump.

<;p class="MsoNoSpacing" target="_blank">“Rising fuel prices are a key factor in this year’s ‘Your Driving Costs’ study,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Auto Repair and Buying. “Paying more at the pump is not only increasing the operational costs of vehicles, but it’s also affecting depreciation values.”

<;p class="MsoNoSpacing" target="_blank">While the upward trend of fuel prices is helping to stay small-car depreciation, the same can’t be said for larger vehicles. Depreciation increased 10.7 percent for SUVs, 6.1 percent for large sedans, and 4.6 percent for minivans as fuel efficiency concerns stymied demand for roomier rides.

<;p class="MsoNoSpacing" target="_blank">In addition to fuel, higher tire and full-coverage insurance expenses were also identified as major factors in this year’s higher ownership costs, which are listed below.

<;p class="MsoNoSpacing" target="_blank">2010 average cost per mile based on 15,000 annual miles

  • Small sedan -- 43.3 cents ($6496 per year) -- up 2.9 percent
  • Medium sedan -- 56.2 cents ($8436 per year) -- up 4.1 percent
  • Large sedan -- 70.2 cents ($10,530 per year) -- up 6.7 percent
  • Sedan average -- 56.6 cents ($8487 per year) -- up 4.8 percent
  • 4WD SUV -- 73.9 cents ($11,085 per year) -- up 8.0 percent
  • Minivan -- 62.0 cents ($9301 per year) -- up 5.4 percent
<;p class="MsoNoSpacing" target="_blank">AAA determined the average costs with five models from each vehicle segment. The vehicles used were:

  • Small sedan -- Chevrolet Cobalt, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla
  • Medium sedan -- Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry
  • Large sedan -- Buick Lucerne, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon
  • SUVs -- Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner
  • Minivans -- Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Nissan Quest, Toyota Sienna
<;p class="MsoNoSpacing" target="_blank">AAA has been charting average ownership costs since 1950. The average operating cost then was 9 cents per mile for a vehicle driven 10,000 miles per year. Gasoline was also available at an average of 27 cents per gallon.

<;p class="MsoNoSpacing" target="_blank">Interested in getting all the nitty-gritty details and costs? Take a look at this PDF courtesy of AAA.

<;p class="MsoNoSpacing" target="_blank">Source: American Automobile Association

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