The cost to own and operate a sedan in the United States has grown 1.96 percent to $9,122 a year, or 60.8 center per mile, according to the latest “Your Driving Costs” study released April 16 by AAA. These figures are based on 15,000 miles of annual driving. Changes in maintenance, fuel and insurance costs resulted in the year-over-year increase.
The costs associated with maintaining a vehicle had the single largest percentage increase from 2012 to 2013, growing 11.26 percent to 4.97 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. AAA’s estimates are based on the cost to maintain a vehicle and perform needed repairs for five years and 75,000 miles, including labor expenses, replacement part prices and the purchase of an extended warranty policy.
Driving the increase in maintenance costs were significant increases in labor and parts costs for some models, as well as a major increase in the price of extended warranty policies due to high loss ratios by underwriters.
The cost of tires did not change from 2012 to 2013, remaining at one cent per mile on average for sedan owners. The stable price is attributed to a leveling-off of past increased costs for raw material, energy and transportation from factories to distributors across the country.
Gas prices were relatively stable compared to the prior year, leading to a minimal fuel cost increase of 1.93 percent to 14.45 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. The average cost of regular-grade fuel (used by most of the study vehicles) actually rose 3.84 percent, from $3.357 to $3.486 per gallon. However, several vehicles in the study had small improvements in their fuel economy ratings, which partially offset the fuel cost increase.
Fuel costs in the 2013 study were calculated using the national average price for regular, unleaded gasoline during the fourth quarter of 2012.
Average insurance costs for sedans rose 2.76 percent, or $28, to $1,029 annually. The study’s insurance cost estimates were based on a low-risk driver with a clean driving record. Quotes from five AAA clubs and insurance companies representing seven states showed across-the-board modest increases for all sedan sizes, with large cars having less of an increase than small- and medium-size sedans.
After seeing a drop in 2012, depreciation costs were up slightly in 2013, increasing 0.78 percent to $3,571 a year. AAA says this change may be a consequence of recovering new vehicle sales, resulting in more used cars available in the marketplace and, thus, a softening of the resale value of clean older models.
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 $0.27 a gallon.
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