Cost of Driving Gets Cheaper in 2014 – AAA Study Shows Drivers Pay an Average $8,876 Per Year

May 21, 2014 10:00 am · 12 comments

New research from AAA finds that the average annual cost of owning and operating a new car has decreased by 2.7% in the United States for 2014.

The 2014 edition of AAA’s annual Your Driving Costs study estimates the overall cost of owning and operating a new average sized sedan fell to 59.2 cents per mile, a 1.64 cent per mile decrease from 2013. This decrease amounts to an average of $8,876 in yearly costs, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.

“Despite increases in maintenance and registration fees, there is an overall decrease in the cost of owning and operating a vehicle,” said Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokesperson. “This year’s decrease is caused by a drop in fourth quarter gas prices and lower tire, insurance and depreciation expenses. Owners are saving more than one and a half cents on every mile they drive.”

Before making any vehicle purchase, it is important to determine ownership and operational costs and compare them to current and future vehicle costs. To assist consumers in determining 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.

AAA estimates driving costs based on an extensive list of factors including gasoline, tires, maintenance, financing, depreciation and insurance.

Maintenance costs are up in 2014 by two percent to $5.06 per mile on average for sedan owners. This increase is due to labor expenses, auto replacement parts, and extended warranty policies.

Nationwide, fuel costs had the single largest percentage decrease from 2013. This represents 13 cents per mile expense for 2014. The average cost of regular grade fuel fell 5.96 percent, from $3,486 to $3,278 per gallon per year. The 2014 gas price study was calculated using the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline during the fourth quarter of 2013.

The cost of tires in 2014 has decreased three percent, to $0.97 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. Auto depreciation decreased for 2014 to $3,510 from $3,571 in 2013. While the numbers improved in all three sedan categories, they are particularly strong in the medium size vehicles where several very desirable redesigned models have been introduced.

In 2014, average insurance costs remained relatively 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 geographical region.

AAA’s Your Driving Costs brochure includes a breakdown of specific costs by category of vehicle and can be downloaded at www.aaa.newsroom. AAA has published Your Driving Costs since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost $0.09 cents per mile and gasoline sold for $0.27 per gallon.

AAA Northern California offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to more than 4.1 million members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded 114 years ago.

1 KJ May 21, 2014 at 10:49 AM

“…average of $8,876 in yearly costs, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.” OUCH! Happily, there are ways to reduce that cost.

A monthly bus pass on County Connection is $60/month ($720 a year). Seniors ride for FREE between 10:00 am – 2:00 pm every day.

Walking and riding a bike, of course, are also free — every day.

The less you drive your car, the more money you save!

2 CrankCord Doug May 21, 2014 at 11:41 AM

“The average cost of regular grade fuel fell 5.96 percent”

Obama does not get nearly enough credit for bringing down the cost of gas.

3 Connie Dobbs May 21, 2014 at 12:46 PM
4 ClayDen May 21, 2014 at 12:59 PM

@KJ

True regarding less cost, but your cost per mile is higher because you’re spreading your fixed costs over fewer miles.

Since the AAA report website is broken, I’m going to assume their costs assume that you trade in the car every 3-5 years, thus taking a big hit on depreciation. My solution is to buy a car I REALLY like and that fits my needs and drive it a long time to spread the depreciation cost. The fewest miles I’ve ever put on a new car was 112,000. Other new cars I have purchased new have had the following on them when sold/traded in/donated: 250,000, 180,000, 172,000, 250,000. I have a “restoration project” that I got new that is parked in my garage that has 169,000, and my current daily drivers have 140,000 and 127,000 on them. Maintain the cars properly too and you will reduce ownership cost, as well as being less likely to get stranded somewhere. Also, buy something with good predicted reliability. I also like small cars, so I buy the minimum size that fits my needs and drives well (fun to drive if possible). This is even true when buying something like a minivan. When it was time to replace our VW Eurovan (with a 5 speed manual), it came down to the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. A back-to-back drive made it clear that the Honda drove better, and the Sienna drove like a “Japanese Buick” – BORING! I bought the Honda. I tried to order the Odyssey with a manual transmission (which Honda offers with the V-6 Accord), but they couldn’t do it.

For me, the most expensive car to own would probably be a Camry or a Prius, as it would bore me to death.

Life is meant to live and we spend so much time in our cars that we need to have a little fun when we drive; it’s not all about the minimum cost. To me, that means a manual transmission and excellent handling. Zoom Zoom!

5 KJ May 21, 2014 at 1:21 PM

@ClayDen – I agree that life is meant to be lived, but for me, being able to smell the roses instead of whizzing by in a car makes life more enjoyable. Even sitting waiting for a bus is more satisfying when I consider being able to watch cloud formations, hear birds singing, or just looking at our beautiful mountain.

But, I admit, I like a slower pace to life than most Americans. I find cars, no matter the kind, boring. Now the new things they are doing with bicycles — well, that’s another story!

6 ClayDen May 21, 2014 at 1:57 PM

@KJ

I guess you haven’t driven the right car on the right road. I’m getting ready to repeat a great drive: Hwy 108 up over Sonora Pass, down 395 past Mono Lake, then through Tioga Pass with quality time wandering around Tuolumne Meadows. I feel like I’m in a magnificent cathedral in Tuolumne Meadows. Then there is Hwy 1. Then U.S. 101 all the way through the redwoods and up the Oregon Coast. Hwy 128 between Cloverdale and Hwy 1 is one of the best, and the part of 128 between Winters and the Napa Valley is a blast too. One of the most spectacular drives is the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper AB, as well as the Trans Canada Hwy (Canada Hwy 1) between Sicamous and Banff (the only part of it that I’ve driven so far). Then there is U.S. 89 between Bear Lake and Logan UT. Then there is………….. I’m anxious to drive Hwy 36 between Red Bluff and Scotia, then down Hwy 1, then to Cloverdale on 128 to Calistoga, then home via the Silverado Trail; about 600 miles and 11 1/2 hours of driving- should be a great day.

So many great roads, so little time.

7 JWB May 21, 2014 at 2:08 PM

@ #3

Gas was an average of $4.52per gallon in July of 2008

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2008/07/average-gas-prices-july-14-2008/index.htm

And your point in #3 was again?

8 Noj May 21, 2014 at 2:35 PM

@ 2
Gee, they got you thinking that $4.00 gas is cheap. That was easy.

Obama doesn’t get any credit for bringing down gas prices…he’s making things worse…no drilling on Federal lands, no new refineries, no nuke plants, Keystone pipeline, death of coal production, rules and regulations etc.

9 KJ May 21, 2014 at 2:54 PM

@ClayDen – I’ve driven the TransCanada Highway — twice (and once by train). I’ve been over the Sonora Pass; done Highway 1 up to Canada; Highway 40 to Georgia (including parts of Route 66); over the Beartooth Pass between Yellowstone and Red Lodge, Montana (one gorgeous and scary road!); done the “Going-to-the-Sun” road through Glacier Park many times; driven through Craters of the Moon in Idaho… In other words, I’ve done a lot of car touring in my life, and I’m glad I got to see all that beautiful country and more. I just know that if I could have done it all on a bike or foot, I would have experienced even more.

Check out the “Ride the Divide” movie (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpK5j8AqEqU). It was a bike race that started in Banff and went 2700 (mostly wilderness) miles to the Mexican border. That’s what I call an adventure!

10 57 Chevy May 21, 2014 at 3:23 PM

$8,876.00 sounds reasonable. My wife wants a new car every 2-3 years.

11 Aspirin May 21, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Here is news for some: Obama has nothing to do with the price of gas. the Keystone pipeline will not supply oil to US consumers. It is to be exported. Oil companies don’t want to spend the money on new refineries because they are producing more gas than we can use now. Federal lands belong to us and we have consistently voted for their protection against exploitation for profit. Nuke plants are too costly to build because nobody wants one to be built anywhere near where they live. Americans should stop crying about gas prices that are among the cheapest in the world and while we drive 12 mpg SUVs.

12 Julio May 21, 2014 at 5:18 PM

#2 You think Obama brought down the price of gas? Yeah and he helped everyone over 70 save on medical too. By refusing us medical. True Fact!

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