Anyone who owns a car can tell you that they are expensive and it’s more than the monthly car payment that most drivers have, which some drivers lucky enough to have a paid for car can avoid. Even if your ride is paid for, there are still maintenance items like tires and hoses, fuel, oil changes, and other charges like tolls and that’s before you get into the required insurance. AAA has looked at a bunch of different vehicle types and come up with some hard numbers for how much it cost to drive your vehicle per mile.
The costs get cheaper the more you drive each year with the composite average for 10,000 miles per year at average 73.54 cents per mile. Put 15,000 miles per year on your ride and the cost drops to average 56.46 cents per mile and if you go at least 20,000 miles yearly costs decline to average 49.44 cents per mile.
The numbers that AAA came up with take into account fuel, maintenance items, insurance, repairs, licensing, registration, taxes, depreciation, and finance costs. A chart is offered so you can figure your cost per mile for your car and your area, because it varies depending on where you live. I know it costs much more to register a car each year in Colorado than it does in Texas, to the tune of about four times as much.
AAA does give a disclaimer for its data looking at 2017, “The Your Driving Costs study employs a proprietary AAA methodology to analyze the costs of owning and operating a new vehicle in the United States, using data from a variety of sources, including Vincentric LLC. AAA significantly enhanced the methodology used to calculate Your Driving Costs for 2017. Therefore, driving cost numbers in this edition are not directly comparable to those in earlier editions.”
Anyway you look at the data, owning and driving a car is expensive. In some larger cities commuters are able to avoid owning a car by taking public transportation. In many areas a car isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity to get to your job. The interesting part of the data to me is that it gets cheaper the more you drive, I would have through the opposite would be correct with increased wear and fuel costs leading to more expense. AAA conducts all sorts of studies on driving, back in 2015 it found that hands free devices were still a distraction to drivers.
Download (PDF): AAA driving cost study