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AAA Study Shows 4.8 Percent Rise in Cost to Own and Operate Vehicle

April 08, 2010

The average cost to own and operate a sedan has risen 4.8 percent to 56.6 cents per mile, or $8,487 per year, based on 15,000 miles of annual driving, according to AAA's 2010 edition of its annual 'Your Driving Cost' study.

"Rising fuel prices are a key factor in this year's 'Your Driving Costs' study. Paying more at the pump is not only increasing the operational costs of vehicles, but it's also affecting depreciation values," said John Nielsen, director, AAA auto repair and buying. "With the growing appeal of more fuel efficient vehicles, small sedans are experiencing less depreciation and holding their value longer while we're seeing notable rises in depreciation costs with categories of less fuel-efficient vehicles."

Based on driving
15,000 miles yearly


Small Sedan


Medium Sedan

Large Sedan

Sedan Average



Cost per mile

43.3 cents

56.2 cents

70.2 cents

56.6 cents

73.9 cents

62.0 cents

Cost per year










The 2010 edition of AAA's 'Your Driving Costs' brochure includes in-depth information on five categories of vehicles and is available at select local AAA branch offices or may be downloaded at

Rising Fuel, Tire and Insurance Costs

Increases in the costs of fuel, tires and insurance were the primary factors causing a rise in all categories of vehicles. At the time of the 'Your Driving Cost' calculations, the AAA Fuel Gauge Report listed the national average cost of regular unleaded gas as $2.603 per gallon, 12.7 percent higher than the cost of fuel in last year's study.

The average costs of full coverage insurance on sedans also rose 5.7 percent over last year, while tire costs increased an average of 8.7 percent.

Small Sedan Category Sees Smallest Increase in Costs

The small sedan category experienced the smallest increase of the five categories of vehicles, rising only 2.9 percent from last year to 43.3 cents per mile or $6,496 per year, based on 15,000 miles of yearly driving.

The minimal increase was primarily due to the increased popularity of small sedans led by higher fuel prices. It resulted in the small sedan category being the only one where depreciation costs were lower than last year, falling 1.9 percent.

Rises in Depreciation Drive Up Ownership Costs for Large Sedans, SUVs and Minivans

As more consumers seek fuel efficient vehicles, categories of vehicles not known for good fuel economy were hit with sizable increases in deprecation. The SUV category experienced the largest increase with yearly depreciation rising 10.7 percent, or $484, to $5,003 yearly, based on driving 15,000 miles annually. Large sedans had a depreciation jump 6.1 percent to $4,828 yearly, while minivan depreciation increased 4.6 percent to $3,995 yearly.

AAA's 'Your Driving Cost' study analyzes the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the U.S. Ownership costs factored into the study include the cost of insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. Operational costs in the study include fuel, maintenance and tires.

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