Driving Pains: Cost to Own a Car Increases Nearly 2 Percent

Average 2013 driving costs total more than $9,000, 60.8 cents per mile

Phoenix, April 16, 2013. When considering the cost of vehicle ownership, many motorists only consider their monthly payment and insurance premium. However, the true cost of ownership extends far beyond these factors. AAA released its annual “Your Driving Costs” study today, which aims to give motorists a realistic idea of the cost to own and operate a vehicle.

According to this year’s study, the national average cost to own and operate an average sedan, based on 15,000 miles of driving, is up nearly 2 percent from last year. This translates to $9,122 per year, which is an increase of about $176 from last year.

“Many factors go into the cost calculation of owning and operating a vehicle,” said Don Nunnari, vice president of automotive services for AAA Arizona. “This year, changes in maintenance, fuel and insurance costs resulted in the increase to just over 60 cents a mile.”

According to the study, the following factors shaped the cost of vehicle ownership for 2013:

UNCHANGED: The cost of tires did not change from 2012 to 2013, remaining at 1 cent per mile on average. A leveling off of raw materials, energy and transportation costs can be attributed to tire price stabilization.

HIGHER: The cost associated with vehicle maintenance had the single largest percentage increase from 2012 to 2013, growing more than 11 percent to 4.97 cents per mile. Driving this increase is significant increases in labor and part costs for some models as well as a major increase in the price of some extended warranty policies.

HIGHER: Gas prices were relatively stable compared to the prior year, leading to a minimal fuel cost increase just shy of 2 percent to 14.45 cents per gallon. The average cost of regular grade fuel actually rose 3.8 percent. Improvements in fuel economy ratings helped to offset this increase.

HIGHER: Average insurance costs for sedans rose 2.8 percent to an average annual cost of $1,029 per driver. However, it is important to note that rates vary depending on the vehicle, driver, driving habits, and geographical region.

HIGHER: After dropping in 2012, depreciation rose slightly in 2013, increasing 0.8 percent to $3,571 a year. This change may be a consequence of recovering new vehicle sales, resulting in more used cars available in the marketplace and thus the softening of the resale value of clean older models.

According to the study, motorists can expect to pay the following for vehicle ownership, based on vehicle type and 15,000 miles of driving per year:


Based on Driving 15,000 miles annually

Small Sedan

Medium Sedan

Large Sedan

Sedan Average



Cost Per Mile

46.4 cents

61.0 cents

75.0 cents

60.8 cents

77.3 cents

65.3 cents

Cost Per Year







Change from 2012







“If you commute by car, figure about $61 in total vehicle expenses per 100 miles,” Nunnari said. “If that seems like a lot, driving a more fuel-efficient model or using a transportation alternative could save you money.”

As a go-to automotive resource, AAA can help drivers keep up with vehicle maintenance, find competitive insurance rates and select a fuel efficient vehicle. For more information, visit http://www.az.aaa.com.

The 2013 edition of “Your Driving Costs” is available for download and includes a worksheet to help motorists determine their automotive expenses, based on their personal driving habits. AAA has published “Your Driving Costs” since 1950, when driving a car 10,000 miles annually cost only 9 cents per mile and a gallon of gasoline cost just 27 cents.

Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.