AAA released the results of its annual “Your Driving Costs” study today, revealing a 2.7 percent decrease in the cost to own and operate a sedan in the U.S. The average cost fell 1.64 cents to 59.2 cents per mile, or $8,876 per year, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.
“Despite increases in maintenance and registration fees, American motorists are experiencing an overall decrease in the cost to own and operate a vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “A large decrease in fuel costs, and lower tire, insurance and depreciation expenses are saving owners more than one and a half cents on every mile they drive.”
In-depth findings of this year’s study, including a breakdown of specific costs by category of vehicle and various annual mileages, are contained in the “Your Driving Costs” brochure which may be downloaded in the Safety Brochures section under News & Safety at www.AAA.com.
The true cost of vehicle ownership involves more than the sticker price and what you pay at the pump. Before you make any vehicle purchase, it is important to determine ownership and operational costs and compare them to your current and future financial situation. To assist consumers in determining their individual driving costs, the AAA “Your Driving Costs” brochure contains a worksheet that can be filled-out and personalized for a specific area, driver and vehicle.
Fuel Costs Down more than 10 Percent
Fuel costs had the single largest percentage decrease from 2013 to 2014, declining 10.04 percent to 13 cents per mile. The average cost of regular grade fuel fell 5.96 percent, from $3.486 to $3.278 per gallon. At the same time, vehicle redesigns and improved power train technologies that take into account higher federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards has the effect of improving the average fuel economy of sedans used in the study. Fuel costs in the 2014 study were calculated using the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline during the fourth quarter of 2013.
Maintenance Costs Up 1.81 Percent
This year maintenance costs increased nearly two percent to 5.06 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. For 2014, some vehicles had lower costs due to longer service intervals or reduced labor times, while others experienced an increase in labor times and/or part prices that led to a rise in maintenance costs. AAA experts also identified an increasing number of vehicles requiring low-viscosity semi- or full-synthetic motor oils, which cost more than conventional oils but provide better fuel economy as well as added engine protection and allow for longer oil change intervals.
Tire Costs Decrease Three Percent
After several years of increases due rising costs for raw materials, energy and transportation, tire prices for 2014 have decreased three percent to 0.97 cents per mile. The decrease can be credited to two main factors; some redesigned sedans now come equipped with less expensive tires and some tire prices have declined.
Insurance Costs Decrease 0.58 Percent
In 2014, average insurance costs remain essentially unchanged at an average annual cost of $1,023, compared to $1,029 last year. Insurance rates vary widely by driver and driving record, issuing company and geographic region. AAA insurance cost estimates are based on a low-risk driver with a clean driving record; for 2014 this group saw a negligible premium decrease.Premium quotes, covering seven states across the country and insurance companies from five AAA clubs, showed minor declines for most small and medium sedans, with large cars having small increases.
Depreciation Costs Fall 1.71 Percent
After a small rise in depreciation last year, the tide has turned and depreciation decreased for 2014 to $3,510 per year from $3,571. While the numbers are improved in all three sedan categories, they are particularly strong for medium-sized cars as a result of several very desirable redesigned models being introduced.