AAA Reveals 4.8 Percent Rise in Cost to Own, Operate Vehicle in 2010 Edition of ‘Your Driving Costs’

Erin SteppORLANDO, FLORIDA, April 8, 2010

Higher fuel prices among leading factors to drive increase in average cost for sedan owners to 56.6 cents per mile, $8,487 per year

AAA released the 2010 edition of its annual ‘Your Driving Costs’ study today revealing 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.

“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 4WD SUV Minivan
Cost per mile 43.3 cents 56.2 cents 70.2 cents 56.6 cents 73.9 cents 62.0 cents
Cost per year $6,496 $8,436 $10,530 $8,487 $11,085 $9,301

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 contribute to increase in overall 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 Costs’ 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.

60th year of AAA’s ‘Your Driving Costs’

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 27 cents per gallon.

AAA’s ‘Your Driving Costs’ 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.

To conduct its study, AAA compiled detailed driving costs for small, medium, and large sedans. Driving costs in each category are based on the average costs for five top-selling models selected by AAA. By size category, they are:

  • Small Sedan – Chevrolet Cobalt, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.
  • Medium Sedan – Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.
  • Large Sedan – Buick Lucerne, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon.

Though not part of the AAA composite average, SUV and minivan information is also included in ‘Your Driving Costs’ to help buyers estimate operating costs for these types of vehicles. Selected models include:

  • SUVs – Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner.
  • Minivans – Nissan Quest, Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at

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