Your Car Could Be Costing as Much as Your Rent

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A new report reveals the true cost of owning and operating a vehicle in the U.S.

If you’re feeling broke at the end of the month and don’t know where all your money disappeared to, just take a peek in your garage. Your car could be sucking your bank account dry.

AAA recently released its 2013 Your Driving Costs report, which reveals what Americans are really paying to drive. It showed an almost 2 percent increase in the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the U.S.

If you drive a mid-size sedan, like a Toyota Camry, Chevy Impala or Ford Fusion, you’re paying about 60.8 cents per mile, or $9,122 a year. That is based on driving 15,000 miles per year, which is common for American workers. If you drive an SUV, you’re paying about $11,600 per year, AAA said.

That’s a lot of money. And more than some people pay for rent.

According to a press release from AAA:

“Many factors go into the cost calculation of owning and operating a vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA director of automotive engineering and repair. “This year, changes in maintenance, fuel and insurance costs resulted in the increase to just over 60 cents a mile.”

Here’s a breakdown of the costs that AAA said drove the 2 percent increase in operating and owning a vehicle:

  • Maintenance costs – up 11.26 percent between 2012 and 2013.
  • Fuel costs – increased 1.93 percent.
  • Tire costs – no change between 2012 and 2013.
  • Insurance costs – rose 2.76 percent.
  • Depreciation costs – increased by 0.78 percent.

If you’re looking for a way to trim your car costs, Autoweek recommends following these tips from AAA:

  • Bigger isn’t better. “Don’t buy more car than you need,” Autoweek said. You could save about $2,000 per year by purchasing a size down.
  • Don’t buy new. Cars depreciate by nearly 20 percent in the first year. That’s a big hit. Do your homework and consider purchasing a vehicle that holds its value.
  • Know your car. Read your car’s manual and make sure you’re keeping up on its recommended maintenance. Most cars will easily exceed the 100,000-mile mark if you regularly maintain your vehicle.
  • Price insurance. Before you buy a vehicle, research the costs associated with insuring it. Depending on the make, model and year of car, insurance costs can fluctuate significantly.
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