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Yearly driving costs rise 3.4 percent

Tue, 05 Apr 2011

This won't be a surprise to anyone--it's costing more to own and drive a car.

Higher prices for fuel and tires, and a larger drop in the resale value of cars, pushed the average cost of owning a sedan to $8,776 a year, according to AAA of Heathrow, Fla. That's up 3.4 percent from a year ago.

The rise in fuel, tire and depreciation costs more than offset declines in maintenance and insurance costs for the year, AAA said. Based on 15,000 miles a year, AAA said it costs 58.5 cents per mile to operate the average sedan.

AAA published operating cost survey results for several categories:

-- Small sedan: $6,758 per year, 45.1 cents per mile.

-- Medium sedan: $8,588 per year, 57.3 cents per mile

-- Large sedan: $10,982 per year, 73.2 cents per mile

-- Minivan: $9,489 per year, 63.3 cents per mile

-- Four-wheel-drive SUV: $11,239 per year, 74.9 cents per mile.

And those costs are growing. AAA conducted its study in December, when unleaded gasoline prices averaged $2.88 a gallon. That average now stands at about $3.69 a gallon, AAA said.

The cost of tires rose 15.7 percent from a year ago, AAA said. That was caused by a combination of higher tire prices and automakers equipping vehicles with more expensive premium tires as standard.

AAA said average insurance costs fell 6.1 percent to $968 a year--but it uses a low-risk driver with a clean record to make that calculation.

For the study, AAA cost five top-selling models for each vehicle category--and no European vehicles were in the mix. The vehicles used were:

-- Small sedan: Chevrolet Cobalt, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla.

-- Medium sedan: Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry.

-- Large sedan: Buick Lucerne, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon.

-- Minivan: Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna.

-- SUV: Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner.

By AutoWeek