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AAA: Driving costs rise 1.9 percent
By Insure.com staff

The annual cost of owning and operating a sedan in the United States rose 1.9 percent in the last year, according to the latest annual "Your Driving Costs" study from AAA.

The average cost in 2012 is 59.6 cents per mile, or $8,946 per year, based on 15,000 miles of driving. The cost per mile is up 1.1 cents from last year.

"The average driving cost for 2012 is up due to relatively large increases in fuel and tire costs, and more moderate increases in other areas," John Nielsen, AAA director of automotive engineering and repair, said in a press statement. "Those increases were offset by a decrease in depreciation, resulting in an overall increase of 1.9 percent."

Costs vary depending on the size of the car. A small sedan costs an average of 44.9 cents per mile to own and operate, compared to 58.5 cents for a medium sedan and 75.5 cents for a large sedan.

Among AAA's findings:

  • Fuel costs were up 14.8 percent to an average 14.2 cents per mile.
  • Tire costs rose 4.2 percent, due to higher costs for natural rubber as well as oil used in tire production and transportation from factories to distributors.
  • Depreciation of vehicles dropped 4.9 percent, which may be due to lower sales of new cars in the last few years, which has resulted in a relative shortage of used cars on the market.
  • Maintenance costs rose 0.7 percent, due in part to higher oil prices.
  • Auto insurance costs rose 3.4 percent. Average car insurance rates rose to $1,001 a year.

To conduct the study, AAA compiled driving costs for the five top-selling models:

  • Small sedans - Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.
  • Medium sedans - Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.
  • Large sedans - Buick Lucerne, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon.

A breakdown of costs by category of vehicle and various annual mileages is available online at the AAA website. SUV and minivan operating costs were not included in the composite average, but information about those models is included in the study.

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