Study finds cost of driving is down

Apr. 30, 2013 @ 05:33 PM

For the first time in four years, North Carolina motorists will pay lower annual driving costs than the previous year, as improved fuel economy, falling gas prices and lower insurance costs benefit drivers.

The owner of an average sedan in the state can expect to pay $9,362 in 2013 to drive, based on current prices, compared to $10,558 last year.

The total costs include insurance, maintenance, gasoline, tires, taxes, registration, depreciation and finance charges, based on driving 15,000 miles a year.

Prices at the pump are significantly less than last year. The current price of a gallon of regular unleaded is at $3.429 in North Carolina, versus $3.774 at the same time in 2012. Costs for a new vehicle were about flat compared to last year; $25,062 is the average for a sedan compared to $25,067 last year.

Motorists can expect to pay an average of 62 cents per mile in 2013, an eight-cent drop compared to 2012, if gasoline prices remain steady.

“The decrease in vehicle costs is great news for North Carolina drivers,” said Dave Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. “Driving costs had been rising steadily since 2009, and now motorists are finally seeing some relief.”

Maintenance costs were up 11% compared to last year, while the cost of tires was flat to last year.

Another bright spot for North Carolina motorists is the cost of insurance premiums for sedans, which fell from $647 annually in 2012 to $619 this year.

Drivers of minivans will also see their costs drop this year, down nine cents from 76 cents per mile in 2012 to 67 cents per mile in 2013. Total costs for drivers of SUVs also dropped from 86 cents per mile in 2012 to 79 cents per mile in 2013.

AAA’s annual driving cost analysis informs motorists of operating expenses and the real costs of operating an automobile. Behind depreciation, the next most expensive category is operating costs, which include gas, maintenance and tires. The North Carolina calculation is attached to this press release.

AAA compared the cost of vehicles in five separate categories: small, medium and large sedans, as well as SUVs and minivans. The cumulative final estimate in this release is based on an average of the three sedan categories.

AAA’s analysis uses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) revised fuel-economy estimates intended to better reflect “real world” conditions as opposed to laboratory tests.

Annual driving costs calculations use standardized criteria designed to model the average use of a vehicle for personal transportation over five years and 75,000 miles of ownership. Actual driving costs will vary based on individual driving habits, location, operating costs and other factors.

A national pamphlet, “Your Driving Costs,” is available through AAA Carolinas by calling 704-569-7883. The pamphlet provides detailed information on the costs associated with owning and operating a vehicle nationally.

AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 1.8 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

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