4 Tips to Lower the Rising Cost of Car Ownership

What's Hot

2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

According to AAA, it's more costly to own and operate a vehicle than it was last year. They blame gas, tires, and depreciation - but we have tips to save on all three.

It’s not just the cost of gas that’s going up. The overall cost of driving has also increased this year, AAA says.

Their recently released 2011 Your Driving Costs report [PDF] shows that the cost to own and operate the average sedan has risen 3.4 percent – to $8,776 a year, or 58 cents a mile. For SUVs – the most expensive type of vehicle to own – the cost has jumped to $11,239 a year…

Based on Driving 15,000 miles annually
Medium Sedan
Large Sedan
Sedan Average
Cost Per Mile
45.1 cents
57.3 cents
73.2 cents
58.5 cents
74.9 cents
63.3 cents
Cost Per Year

“Despite seeing reduced costs for maintenance and insurance this year, there is an overall increase in the costs to own and operate a vehicle in the U.S. this year,” said John Nielsen, an AAA director. “The 2011 rise in costs is due to relatively large increases in fuel, tire, and depreciation costs as well as more moderate increases in other areas.”

So let’s break down those last three causes and see if Money Talks News can’t help you drive a little more cheaply than the average motorist…

1. Fuel

  • The cost: About 12.34 cents a mile, a 8.6 percent increase
  • The reason: It’s not what you think – a shortage of oil, or maybe unrest in the Middle East. Today’s rising oil prices are related more to what’s happening in New York than in Libya, as speculators make huge bets on oil prices. Stacy explains it in How Wall Street Wagers Pump up Gas Prices.
  • Our advice: As I explained in this recent story, you have three options: Buy a more fuel-efficient car, try public transportation, or just learn to stretch your gas dollars further. Little things like turning off the A/C, rolling up the windows, and not idling for long stretches can make a noticeable difference. For more tips, be sure to read Stacy’s comprehensive 28 Ways to Save on Gas.

2. Tires

  • The cost: About 0.96 cents a mile, a 15.7 percent increase
  • The reason: “The rise in costs of raw materials, energy, and transportation has led to notable tire price increases in recent years, and 2011 is no exception,” AAA says. “Also contributing to higher average tire costs is a trend by automakers to equip their sedans with premium-grade tires as original equipment.”
  • Our advice: It won’t make your tires themselves any cheaper, but regularly checking your tire pressure and inflating them when needed will increase fuel efficiency and decrease wear and tear. If you don’t know how to check your tires, check out Edmunds’ step-by-step guide.

3. Depreciation

  • The cost: $3,728 a year, a 4.9 percent increase
  • The reason: Depreciation is the gradual loss of your car’s value. So as the price of cars rises, so does the annual depreciation expense. AAA says depreciation is “the largest cost for vehicle owners” – yet is “the most frequently overlooked by consumers determining the cost of owning and operating a vehicle.”
  • Our advice: New cars typically lose 40 percent of their value within the first three years. That’s why it’s best not to buy them. To learn more, check out Stacy’s Why I Don’t Buy New Cars and 8 Tips for Buying a $5,000 Car.

4. Other stuff: Insurance, maintenance, and financing

Insurance and maintenance costs actually declined, according to the 2011 study. But that’s no reason to ignore these expenses.  When it comes to insurance, check out our story Understanding, Organizing, and Saving on Car Insurance. As for maintenance, do what you can yourself, and remember that a little preventative maintenance now can save you big repair bills later.

Then there’s financing. According to AAA, the average car owner pays $823 a year in interest. Simple way to bring that cost to zero? Don’t borrow money to buy depreciating assets. Or at least borrow as little as possible and pay it back as soon as possible.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: Considering a Fixer-Upper? 15 Ways to Avoid a Money Pit

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,075 more deals!