Owning a Car Costs 2 Percent More This Year

A new analysis from AAA says the average cost to own and drive a sedan is $9,122 per year.

The cost of car maintenance jumped 11.26 percent this year for sedans, AAA says.

Its annual study of driving costs shows that was a factor in a nearly 2 percent increase in the overall cost of car ownership.

AAA’s experts determine maintenance costs by looking at five-year expenses for labor, replacement parts and an extended warranty policy. All three of those elements became significantly more expensive in the past year.

Costs associated with fuel were up nearly 2 percent. While the average cost of regular-grade gas rose nearly 4 percent, fuel efficiency improvements reduced the impact. The cost of tires was flat — the only time seeing those words together is a good thing.

Average insurance costs were up 2.76 percent to an annual rate of $1,029. Depreciation costs, which are also factored in, rose less than a percent to $3,571 per year. The rise was likely because new car sales are improving and resale values are dropping, the report said.

These estimated figures are averages for top-selling 2012 sedans based on 15,000 miles of driving per year. The study examined ownership costs for various types of vehicles. Ownership of small sedans such as the Honda Civic costs an average of $6,967 this year; medium sedans such as the Toyota Camry, $9,151; and large sedans such as the Nissan Maxima, $11,248.

Meanwhile, ownership costs for minivans such as the Kia Sedona average $9,795, and four-wheel drive SUVs such as the Ford Explorer average $11,599.

The study includes other costs, such as finance charges, taxes and registration.

AAA’s brochure about the study includes a worksheet for figuring your specific costs.

Stacy Johnson

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