AAA study finds it’s getting more expensive to own a vehicle

A new AAA study, Your Driving Costs, shows a 1.9 percent increase in the annual costs of owning and operating a sedan in the U.S. Increases in gas and tire costs helped drive up the average costs for sedans to $8,946 a year or 59.6 cents per mile. For SUVs, the costs were even higher -- at $11,360 a year or 75.7 cents per mile.

For the study, AAA auto buying and repair experts looked at the average costs for five top-selling models. By size category, they are:

  • Small Sedan - Chevrolet Cruze, 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.

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Though not part of the AAA composite average, SUV and minivan information is also included in 'Your Driving Costs'-- selected models include:

  • SUVs - Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner.

  • Minivans - Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna.

The reasons for the increase? Fuel, tire, maintenance and insurance costs are all up.

The study found the cost of fuel increased between 2011 to 2012, rising 14.8 percent to 14.2 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. Fuel costs in the 2012 study were calculated using the national average price for regular, unleaded gasoline during the fourth quarter of 2011. The cost of tires rose by 4.2 percent to one cent per mile on average for sedan owners over the last year.

The report found maintenance was slightly more expensive. And the cost of insurance also rose by 3.4 percent in 2012.