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Driving is Getting More Expensive

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author photo by Autotrader April 2011

The American Automobile Association released its annual “Your Driving Costs” study on Tuesday, confirming what most of us already suspect: driving is getting more expensive.

AAA’s study, which began in December 2010 with an in-depth look at all vehicle types, revealed that driving is some 3.4 percent more expensive than last year – and rising fuel costs aren’t the only culprit.  Also to blame, according to AAA, are increasing tire costs and what AAA says is the most overlooked expense of buying a car: depreciation. Those costs and others led AAA to a stunning annual running cost of $8,776 for the average car – or about 58.5 cents per mile.

“Despite seeing reduced costs for maintenance and insurance this year, there is an overall increase in the costs to own and operate a vehicle within the U.S. this year,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s national director of auto repair, buying, and consumer programs. “The 2011 rise in costs is due to relatively large increases in fuel, tire, and depreciation costs as well as more moderate increases in other areas.”

Of course, fuel prices were a large part of the cost increase, rising 8.6 percent over last year and translating into a $0.12 per mile increase for the average sedan. Tire costs shot up a surprising 15.7 percent over last year – the highest percentage jump in the study. But because tires are such an infrequent purchase for most drivers, that jump only cost the average sedan owner about one cent per mile annually.

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom in the world of driving costs. AAA says maintenance costs dropped an average of 2.2 percent for sedans, with minivans seeing an even more marked 7.4 percent decrease. Insurance costs fell too, coming in about 6 percent lower than last year.

AAA’s “Your Driving Costs” study has been released every year since 1950, when the automotive association pegged the average cost of fuel at just 27 cents per gallon – and the average cost of driving at only 9 cents per mile.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Driving is Getting More Expensive - Autotrader