The True Costs of Driving

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 21,525
    AAA’s John Nielsen shines some light on just how expensive it can be to own and operate a car.

    John Nielsen: Do you know how much you're really paying to own and operate your car? If you've never totaled your cost, these figures may come as quite a surprise. Let's take a look at the yearly cost calculations we did for an average sedan this year.

    You can plug-in your numbers, specific to your vehicle to get an even more accurate estimate. Get all starts by determining your operating cost, which is how much you spend on fuel, maintenance and tires over a year. The total operating cost figures for an average sedan, driven 15,000 miles this year, would be $2,946.

    Now, we need to determine the total ownership cost which are those other costs related to purchasing, licensing and insuring the vehicle and let's not forget depreciation which is the single largest cost of owning a vehicle.

    For the average sedan in 2012, these costs totaled $6000. To find our total driving cost for the year, we simply need to add operating cost and ownership cost together. That shows that the average yearly cost for the average sedan, driven 15,000 miles per year is $8,946 or 59.

    6 cents per mile.

    Since ownership costs are fixed, the more miles you drive the lower cost per mile. If you drive more, your yearly cost per mile goes down a little, and if you drive less it goes up.

    Remember that performing regular maintenance will keep your vehicle running efficiently and can prevent costly repairs that increase your ownership cost. So, by estimating you current and future driving cost, you can make informed vehicle purchase decisions and budget for annual automotive expenses.