2011 Nissan Altima sedanEnlarge Photo
If it seems like owning the family car is costing more money these days, it is. A new study by AAA finds that the average yearly costs to own and operate a sedan rose 1.9 percent to nearly $9,000. SUV and minivan costs increased as well, to more than $11,000 and $9,000, respectively.
The 2012 “Your Driving Costs” study provides consumers with a comprehensive look at what it really costs to own and operate a vehicle. And, it’s more than just the purchase price when you drive the car off the lot.
Good news, bad news
According to the survey findings, not surprisingly, relatively large increases in fuel costs are helping to drive up average annual ownership costs. But tire costs have also increased to a relatively large extent. Other areas had more modest increases.
There is some good news with the bad news, however. Michael Calkins, AAA’s manager of approved auto repair, tells FamilyCarGuide that “Reduced depreciation, due to a shortage of clean late-model used cars, means your 1-4 year old vehicle is likely to bring top dollar at trade in time for at least the next 12 months.
“The other good news is that AAA’s driving costs are based on a five-year/75,000-mile ownership period, said Calkins. “If you don’t mind driving an older, well cared for vehicle, the longer you keep your car the less expensive it becomes to own and operate. While the variable operating costs (fuel, maintenance and tires) remain relatively constant, the fixed ownership costs (insurance, taxes, licensing, depreciation and finance charges) all decline or go away entirely – as does your monthly car payment.”
2011 Chevrolet Cruze (Courtesy: GM)Enlarge Photo
Here’s a quick look at the study findings.