AAA: Average Annual Driving Costs Fall 2 Percent In 2015

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
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aaa average annual driving costs fall 2 percent in 2015

According to AAA’s 2015 Your Driving Costs study, annual driving costs costs fell 2 percent to an average of $8,698 in 2015.

The annual study, which looks at the associated costs in owning and maintaining a typical sedan driven 15,000 miles a year, found that fuel costs fell nearly 14 percent to 11.2 cents per mile, while finance charges came down 21 percent to just $669 per year. The former is due to a combination of falling gas prices at the pump and improved fuel economy, the latter due to low finance rates amid rising sales and heavy dealer competition.

However, vehicle depreciation climbed 4.1 percent to $3,654 as new-car sales help push used and off-lease models back onto the lot. Insurance trickled up nearly 9 percent to $1,115/year for an average policy, mainly because of higher-cost modern features linked to safety, use of lightweight materials, and newer connected-vehicle systems.

Maintenance costs barely rose to just over 5 cents/mile in 2015 – though owners are behind on routine maintenance – while licensing, registration and taxes totaled $665 a year on average, thanks to slightly higher prices on the showroom floor. Tires held their ground as a result of the dynamics and competitiveness of the market, with costs rising to just 0.98 cents/mile.

Among the vehicle types factored into the annual average, owners of minivans and SUVs will continue to fare well at the pump and in financing their vehicles, as those vehicles average 0.625 cents and 0.708 cents per mile in 2015. Owners of large sedans face the highest average cost at 0.710 cents/mile, while midsize and small sedan owners pay 0.581 cents and 0.449 cents for every mile driven, respectively.

[Image credit: AAA]

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • DeadWeight DeadWeight on Apr 28, 2015

    Buying/leasing new cars/trucks/vans often is financial suicide - mainly due to depreciation. My costs are probably $2,700 per year (insurance, gasoline, maintenance) because I do appropriate maintenance, buy and hold, and take care of my vehicles, and even that's ridiculous. Think about it: If this report is even remotely accurate, the average person spends nearly $100,000 operating a vehicle over a ten year period, and that's AFTER TAX INCOME (with few exceptions), so it's closer to $125,000! 1) Buy quality (no GM, no Kia, no Fiat, etc.) 2) Buy for the long run (8 years minimum, 12 years is ideal) 3) Spend the money on quality maintenance, preventative & otherwise (coolant flushes, oil/filter changes at 5k miles max, transmission fluid flush-fills on automatics every 30k to 40k miles, spark plugs, wires & coils - wrench as much as you can, also). 4) Stay away from non-warranty service or repairs at scumbag dealerships (get a really good, honest, competent indie mechanic for things you can't do yourself). 5) Order quality parts like Akebono brake pads, Interstate batteries (Optima is overpriced garbage), NGK spark plugs, quality 5W-30 oil and quality filters (Motorcraft filters and Wix are good), etc. 6) Buy vehicles for the long haul that you enjoy owning/driving and maintain them, staying away from the marketing/advertising driven peer-pressure, badge snobbery rat race - it will kill you unless you have wipe a$$ money.

    • See 4 previous
    • Spreadsheet monkey Spreadsheet monkey on Apr 30, 2015

      @DeadWeight Nice car. Glad to hear it's serving you well.

  • LeMansteve LeMansteve on Apr 29, 2015

    "Financing: $669/yr" I can't imagine paying that much per year in interest. I followed the link to the AAA page. It doesn't give much detail on this metric, only saying that rates vary and they assume a typical 5 year loan. The study is based on a typical mid-size sedan. The average mid-size sedan shopper is financing a ton and/or have really poor credit. Assume you finance 100% of a $30,000 sedan. You would need a rate of around 4.2% to meet the $669/yr average. Finance $27,000, need a rate of about 4.8%.

    • See 1 previous
    • LeMansteve LeMansteve on Apr 29, 2015

      @Astigmatism The costs are based on a "typical sedan". I get the impression that it is based on new cars and possibly CPO cars. I wouldn't consider a 7-series to be "typical" but if luxury cars are included in the data, that would explain why the average financing cost is so high.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Apr 29, 2015

    If my costs were this high, I can tell you right now I'd have an old 3-cyl econobox or be on a bike. I spend per year: $49 registration/tax $0 tires $0 finance $350 maintenance $538 insurance $600 fuel (assuming about $3.00/g fuel) And KBB values my car at more than I paid for it, so I can't count that either. ----- $1,586/yr. The benefits of a 6mi RT commute. And not living in Detroit.

  • FleetGenius FleetGenius on Apr 30, 2015

    Very useful information for fleet owners, too. I imagine these costs go up for fleet owners of smaller fleets since mileage is usually higher for fleet vehicles as is vehicle insurance. Many fleet owners will be surprised by these numbers as most who manage their fleets with paper and log books have very little idea on the actual costs of owning their vehicles.