The American Automobile Association (AAA) recently published a study that shows just how much it costs you to own a car. From fuel costs to tire replacements to depreciation of your car during its entire lifetime, AAA considered everything in this study and calculated each cost down to the mile. Sadly, what they found is a general increase in overall costs.
To give you an idea of how much you’ll spend owning a particular type of vehicle, a sedan costs an average of 57.3 cents a mile and $8588 a year, while a four-wheel-drive SUV costs an average of 74.9 cents a mile and $11,239 a year. While the cost increases aren’t limited to any one class of vehicle, AAA chose to focus on the sedan for this study.
Tire prices have increased 15.7 percent, now costing sedan drivers .96 cents per mile on average. This is due primarily to rising material costs and logistical complications. Fuel costs, of course, are on the rise, up 8.6 percent and costing 12.34 cents per mile on average for sedans. While many new cars get better gas mileage today than they did a few years ago, the study points out that increased fuel economy simply can’t negate the effects of rising fuel costs.
As we mentioned above, costs for maintenance have decreased, down 2.2 percent and costing an average of 4.44 cents per mile for sedans. This is partially due to the current trend of manufacturers picking up the repair bill for the first few years of ownership. Insurance costs were also down, with the average rate for good drivers dropping 6.1 percent or $63 per year.
But the number one highest cost for 2011—and one that still goes largely unrecognized—is depreciation. The sad truth of the matter is our cars just aren’t worth what we paid for them when new. Inevitably, time gradually chips away at your car’s resale value, but this year’s study shows that to be even truer today. Depreciation rates went up 4.9 percent, meaning a loss of $3728 annually for sedans that drive an average of 15,000 miles per year. Yikes.
Overall, the study shows that whatever you drive, it’s going to cost you money. But at least for some of us, that cost is well worth it.