According to a new study by the American Automobile Association (AAA), it now costs approximately $9,000 per year to operate a vehicle in the United States. This figure factors in costs associated with insurance, maintenance, and fuel; it does not take monthly car payments into account.
In order to represent the largest swath of drivers possible, AAA bases its annual cost-of-operation calculations on a driver with a good driving record who travels approximately 15,000 miles per year in an average-sized sedan. Using these assumptions, AAA has concluded that it now costs approximately sixty cents per mile to own and operate an automobile, according to MSN Money. Obviously, this figure is an average and could vary wildly from driver to driver and vehicle to vehicle, but the upshot is that car ownership costs are on the rise.
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Most of the increase in car ownership costs is accounted for by an increase in costs associated with maintaining your vehicle; maintenance costs have risen about 11% since last year. Also on the rise is the price of car insurance – AAA estimates that insurance premiums have risen about 3%, which means that the average driver with a solid safety record is paying about $1000 per year to stay insured. Again, this figure is affected by the state in which you live and your history as a driver, but, overall, it’s more expensive to be insured this year than it was last year.
It’s encouraging to note that fuel prices have been declining in recent months. According to AAA, fuel accounts for approximately 14 cents per mile in consumer costs associated with car ownership. This is expected to decline as we head towards the Memorial Day holiday.
So how can car owners reduce the hit to their wallets that owning a car induces? Here are a few tips:
- Maintain a good driving record to fend of increases in insurance
- Shop around for car insurance and check rates every year or two
- Get regular, scheduled maintenance to keep small issues from become big ones
- Maximize fuel efficiency by avoiding speeds above 55 miles per hour on highways
- Drive the smallest vehicle you feel comfortable with; larger cars mean larger costs
What’s your best money-saving tip when it comes to owning and operating a car?