What Your Car Really Costs (2013 Edition)

AAA recently released their annual report of the cost of driving in the United States. Their methodology considers fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance, license/registration/taxes, depreciation, and finance charges. (Get that? Rather than include your payment on principle, it includes depreciation over five years and average finance costs.) The bottom line is that the average car driven around 10,000 miles per year costs $7,835 or $.783/mile. Of course, they must make several assumptions to try to come up with the average cost (e.g. the insurance for a 50 year-old woman is much less than a 20 year-old man) so your mileage may vary (literally and figuratively).

Here’s a good summary table culled from their report.

10,000 miles 15,000 miles 20,000 miles
Small sedan $5,952 ($.595/mi) $6,967 ($.464/mi) $7,962 ($.398/mi)
Medium sedan $7,804 ($.780/mi) $9,151 ($.610/mi) $10,456 ($.523/mi)
Large sedan $9,748 ($.975/mi) $11,248 ($.750/mi) $12,705 ($.635/mi)
SUV $10,016 ($1.00/mi) $11,599 ($.773/mi) $13,141 ($.657/mi)
Minivan $8,400 ($.840/mi) $9,795 ($.653/mi) $11,149 ($.557/mi)

You might be asking, “What’s the point?”, right about now. Several points…

The first point is that cars are flippin’ expensive regardless of the payment. Did you know? I didn’t.

The second point is that, if you’re going to own a car, you need to drive as many miles per year as possible to bring down your per-mile costs. That’s just smart shopping. If you extrapolate the data in the report, you’ll see this curve…

Average Sedan Cost (per mile) in 2013

Average Sedan Cost (per mile) in 2013

A smart shopper driving around 300k miles per year would bring down his cost 75%!

The third point, and the real point, is given that I’ve been bike commuting for four years and the average car costs $7,804 per year, I can buy a lot more bikes and gear and still not get close to that $31,216! Right, honey?

Uh, oh. The Washington Post reports that Americans (young Americans, at least) are driving less. “Between 2001 and 2009, the average yearly number of miles driven by 16- to 34-year-olds dropped a staggering 23 percent.” I should congratulate all those young people, but given the AAA’s findings, I can only think that they are paying record amounts for their cars.

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One Response to What Your Car Really Costs (2013 Edition)

  1. danielsim23 says:

    This is way too cheap comparing to ours here in Singapore

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