By on April 28, 2015

AAA Your Driving Costs 2015 Infographic

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]

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39 Comments on “AAA: Average Annual Driving Costs Fall 2 Percent In 2015...”

  • avatar

    I think you mean 0.98 cents a mile for tires. 98 cents a mile would be $14,700 a year for tires alone.

  • avatar

    I don’t even want to LOOK at my driving costs.

    17,000 miles on my 300SRT at an average of 10mpg.
    10,000 miles on my JGCSRT14 at an average of 11mpg.

    The fuel costs alone…

    Tires are $180 each for the 300.
    $350 each for the Jeep.


  • avatar

    Gasoline prices have bounced back up to $2.50 here, and are now only about a dime less than diesel.

  • avatar

    I’m not so sure how useful some of these statistics are. For example, my “License, Tax, Registration” was about $4500 the first year but only $175 or thereabouts thereafter. Therefore, these “averages” are going to be highly dependent on how long I keep my car, which really is a lifestyle choice, not a matter of the costs of a car going up or down.

    • 0 avatar

      Right, that number sounds high. Here in Ohio you pay the sales tax on the value of the car (less any value you got for your trade in). But after that, registration is very cheap.

      Mine for this year was $49.

      • 0 avatar

        But in return for that cheap registration, you have to live in Ohio. Not sure that is a great tradeoff… I feel like I get value for my money paid. :-)

        • 0 avatar

          HEY, Ohio was beautiful today. Not a cloud in the sky and 65 degrees. And the trees are blooming and it smells nice.

          We get like 15 days of this per year so I have to really enjoy it.

          • 0 avatar

            I am in Michigan as you know, with a similar past 2 winters as you Buckeyes had, and don’t know how much more of this sh!t I can take.

            I think the median high temp from January mid March was around 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and the median low temps for those same days were around 8 degrees Fahrenheit (with many -2, -6, -12 degree nights/mornings).

            Seriously, these winters are killing me.

          • 0 avatar

            I never knew you were in Michigan actually. If I had to guess, I would have said you were from Texas. I’m not sure why I thought that.

            The good thing about the winters is they take longer to set in than you realize. When you’re at the end of November and most days you just need a jacket, that’s not too bad. I think things just seem worse than they are with the time change, and darkness arriving promptly at 5:10PM.

    • 0 avatar

      Presumably sales tax is only included in the price of the car, since you do not pay it annually.

      Many states have annual excise tax or other property taxes on cars. In Maine it can be substantial if the car was expensive when new – my Range Rover is still $500/yr to register at 14 years old. My new BMW will be in the $1600 range the first year, the “old” BMW (2011) was over $500 this year. Declines over 7 years, but those first 3-4 are EXPENSIVE.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    These types of calculations tend to be rubbery.

    I do think the costs or perceived cost of vehicle ownership varies on how you operate your finances and how you view what costs are.

    In my case I don’t view depreciation as an issue or cost. I paid cash for my pickup, so it doesn’t matter what it’s current value is to me.

    What does impact me is all the operating costs.

    Also, what isn’t considered is the wealth you gain by having a vehicle.

    Without a vehicle I will not have the income I have. This will offset the depreciation to a degree, or completely as I tend to have the resources to go out and buy a new vehicle when needed (wanted).

    I view the ownership of a vehicle similar to eating out or grocery shopping. If you don’t have the money to eat at Fogo de Choa and you eat at Burger King are you any worse off.

    You buy and consume what you can afford. Don’t worry about loss. If you have to worry about the loss incurred with a vehicle purchase you are spending way too much on that vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      Finance charge = $0 as vehicle is paid off. Having an older vehicle also saves on insurance. And as mentioned depreciation is already dropped to the point of it not being a factor. Now maintenance costs go up, but not that much. Since an oil change is the same whether the car has 5K, 55K or 150K on it. Newer vehicles tend to get better mileage but they come with larger tires so maybe that is a wash in a year?

      • 0 avatar

        Yup, this is why we still no desire to replace our original LS400 yet. Depreciation is $0 at this point and insurance ($3m thrid-party liability only) is less than half the price on a new LS460. Most other costs are a wash between this car and any replacement we would want.

      • 0 avatar

        This is why I find all the “you can’t own a German car out of warranty people” hilarious. Compared to depreciation, maintenance and repairs are peanuts. Even on an S-class. Maybe especially on an S-class…

    • 0 avatar

      “In my case I don’t view depreciation as an issue or cost. I paid cash for my pickup, so it doesn’t matter what it’s current value is to me.”

      Depreciation basically just means the amount you paid for your vehicle, minus the amount you’ll eventually sell your vehicle for (or zero, if you’ll drive it into the ground), amortized over the number of years you’ll own your vehicle. It’s the way they calculate “purchase price” considering that most people don’t buy a new car every year. I’m assuming that the amount people pay for their cars matters to most people, or we’d all be splitting out garages between LaFerraris, S550s and LX570s.

  • avatar

    In the NYC area, tolls are a huge component. We spend a lot of money subsiding mass transit, and building office buildings. Art, too. Add a hundred dollars or so a month.

    Not so much on the actual roads. I have the tire bill to prove it.

    • 0 avatar

      Northeast in general. Even with an EZ-Pass, so getting some substantial discounts, it cost me more than $40 in tolls to drive from Maine to NJ and back last week. It cost about that to drive from La Guardia to Edison NJ a couple months ago. There are cheaper routes, but I go where the traffic-aware GPS tells me, and bill the tolls to the client.

      Though generally, I am a fan of toll roads assuming that the money is actually spent on the roads. There is a reason the Maine Turnpike is the best maintained and safest road in the state. Obviously NY and NJ have other uses for all that toll money.

  • avatar

    Speedlaw you are absolutely correct. Every time I drive from the Boston area to NYC, it costs about $7 to go over the bridge. You then end up on the FDR Drive which hasn’t been repaired since he was President. I always go slow because I am afraid my car will bottom out. The graft must be incredible as they are certainly not maintaining the roads down there. Just think $7 times tens of thousands of cars per day. I don’t complain about the Boston tolls anymore.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      what do you drive, DW?

    • 0 avatar

      What do you drive, DeadWeight?

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t disagree with you on this. Though there are a couple approaches. Buy new and keep forever. Buy used and turn every few years. Cheapest of all is probably buying beaters and dumping them when they die.

      And my Fiat Abarth was the only new car myself of any of my friends and family have ever had that had not a single warranty issue in its first two years. Wish I had room to have kept it.

    • 0 avatar

      Guys, I drive a statistically unreliable (motor) RX-8.

      I either have great luck because it has 109,000 miles and I’ve literally not had a single problem with it, or my theory is more correct than not about most problems with the rotary stem from owner neglect, disproportionately affect the motor in low output form (automatic versus manual transmission, with the auto having only one oil cooler vs the manual’s two), not keeping heavier weight oil than spec’d (I won’t go below 5W-30 and use 5W-40 or 10W-40 in summer) topped off at all times, and flushing/filling coolant every 40k miles (small price to pay; rotaries run very hot and have a lot of aluminum).

      khrodes – I like the Abarth. If I was to buy a subcompact, it would be on my shopping list (Ronnie’s review of it was the best I’ve read yet, by the way). That said, I still think Fiat has some reliability issues, but this wouldn’t preclude me from rolling the dice on an Abarth, and then being OCD about quality preventive maintenance.

  • avatar

    “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%.

    • 0 avatar

      I suspect that a midsize sedan buyer with good credit is somewhere toward the low tail end of the spectrum for annual finance charges. The rich guys who lease a new 7-series every 36 months are paying finance charges rolled into their lease payments on a $100,000 car, and the poor guys who buy from buy-here-pay-here lots based on weekly payment amounts or Used Auto Superstores with subprime financing are paying effective financing rates into the tens.

      • 0 avatar

        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.

  • avatar

    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.

    The benefits of a 6mi RT commute. And not living in Detroit.

  • avatar

    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.

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