How Much Does it Cost to Drive?
Following are average per-mile costs as determined by AAA, based on the driving costs for nine vehicle categories weighted by sales.
Driving costs in each category are based on average costs for five top-selling 2022 models selected by AAA. By category, they are:
- Small sedan – Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Jetta.
- Medium sedan – Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry.
- Sub-compact SUV – Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Jeep Compass, Subaru Crosstrek.
- Compact SUV – Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CRV, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4.
- Medium SUV – Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Explorer, Subaru Outback, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Highlander.
- Midsize pickup – Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger, Honda Ridgeline, Jeep Gladiator, Toyota Tacoma.
- ½-ton pickup – Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, Nissan Titan, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra.
- Hybrid vehicle – Ford Explorer, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Ioniq, Toyota Prius Liftback, Toyota RAV4.
- Electric vehicle (EV) – Chevrolet Bolt, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Kona Electric, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model 3.
AAA’s analysis covers vehicles equipped with standard features and optional equipment including automatic transmission, air conditioning, power steering, antilock brakes and cruise control, to name a few.
Depreciation: Depreciation is the difference between the vehicle purchase price and the estimated trade-in value at the end of five years at the designated miles driven per year. MSRP is different from the vehicle purchase price, which is the actual price paid for the vehicle and considers things like discounts and rebates. Depreciation is vehicle specific. Certain vehicle types or specific models and configurations may depreciate differently depending on their popularity – which drives trade-in value. The depreciation values used are projections based on past trade-in and sales data for similar vehicles.
Finance: The finance cost is the amount paid in interest on the loan used to purchase a vehicle. Finance costs are based on a five-year loan, with 15% down and a typical interest rate for the selected state. The loan amount includes taxes and the first year’s license fees.
Fuel: Fuel costs are calculated based on the miles driven per year, the fuel economy of the selected vehicle, the ratio of city to highway miles driven and the fuel/electricity price.
Insurance: Costs are based on a full-coverage policy for the personal use of a vehicle by a driver who is under 65 years of age, has more than six years of driving experience, has no accidents and lives in a suburban/urban location. The policy includes discounts for passive restraints and an anti-theft system, and provides $100,000/$300,000 personal liability, $25,000 medical, $100,000 property and $25,000/$50,000 uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. A $500 deductible applies to all collision and comprehensive claims.
License, Registration and Taxes: Costs include all government taxes and fees payable at the time of purchase, as well as fees due each year to keep the vehicle licensed and registered. Costs are based on the selected state of residence, but individual fees can vary by situation and county of residence. Contact your local DMV for specifics about your personal fees.
Maintenance, Repair and Tires: These costs include retail parts and labor for routine maintenance specified by the vehicle manufacturer, a comprehensive extended warranty, repairs to wear-and-tear items that require service during five years of operation and one set of replacement tires of the same quality, size, and rating as those that came with the car. Sales tax is specific to the selected state of residence, but the rate and how it is applied may vary locally.
Figuring Your Costs
AAA now offers an online Your Driving Costs calculator to provide a more interactive and personalized breakdown for car shoppers. This online tool employs the same methodology as AAA’s annual analysis of new car ownership. It allows users to view comprehensive cost analyses of a specific vehicle by category to determine ownership costs that best align with their budget. Data is available for new and used vehicles (five model years back), and consumers may customize the results based on location and other personal driving tendencies.
Driving costs are affected by how well your vehicle runs. Performing regular maintenance can ensure more efficient operation and help prevent costly repairs down the road. Below are general checks to keep your vehicle in good operating shape. Read your owner’s manual for more detailed information on your vehicle’s specific requirements. When performing “do-it-yourself” maintenance, always take appropriate safety precautions.
Air Filter: Captures dirt particles and ensures clean airflow to the engine. Inspect at every oil change.
Battery: Powers the starter motor, acts as a voltage stabilizer for the electrical system and makes up any shortfall when the alternator cannot meet the vehicle’s electrical demands. Inspect the battery cable connections at every oil change and clean as needed. Always wear eye protection and gloves when servicing a battery.
Belts: Most vehicles use a single serpentine belt to operate under-hood accessories such as the alternator, although V-belts still are used in some applications. Inspect at every oil change.
- Brake Fluid: Critical to proper brake system performance. Check the level at every oil change.
- Engine Coolant: Prevents engine freeze-up in winter and boil-over in summer, and protects the cooling system from rust and corrosion. Check the level at every oil change.
- Engine Oil: Lubricates and cools the engine while cleaning internal parts. Running your car low on oil can cause serious engine damage. Check the level at least once a month.
- Power Steering Fluid: Transfers hydraulic pressure to reduce steering effort. Check the level at every oil change.
- Transmission Fluid: Helps transfer engine power to the wheels, lubricates internal parts, maintains seals and acts as a coolant. Check the level at every oil change.
Gasoline: Use gasoline with the octane rating recommended by the vehicle manufacturer — a higher fuel grade will not provide additional benefits. Gasolines that meet TOP TIER™ standards do a better job of preventing and removing internal engine deposits.
Hoses: Circulate vital liquids such as engine coolant, transmission fluid and power steering fluid. Inspect at every oil change.
Tires: As the only part of your vehicle in contact with the road, tires have a major effect on ride, handling, braking and safety. For optimum performance, tires must have adequate tread depth, show no signs of physical damage and be properly inflated. Inspect tires and check inflation pressures at least once a month.
AAA Car Care Resources
AAA offers several resources to complement information found in your owner’s manual. They include:
- AAA.com: Provides a variety of vehicle maintenance and operating tips. Online content varies by AAA club.
- AAA Car Guide: Consumers can also use this resource to learn about the latest automotive technology and research vehicles that best suit their needs.
- AAA.com/AutoRepair: This site features a search tool to help users locate nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) facilities. It also has a tool for estimating repair costs, and numerous articles that discuss various aspects of car care.
- AAA Approved Auto Repair: The AAR network includes more than 7,000 shops across North America that are visited regularly and inspected annually by AAA to ensure they meet AAA’s rigorous quality standards. AAA members receive priority service when their car is towed in, assistance in obtaining alternate trans-portation (if necessary), repair discounts, written estimates, free maintenance inspections, a minimum 24-month/24,000-mile warranty and AAA arbitration to resolve repair disputes.
- AAA Mobile App: Available for both Apple and Android devices, AAA’s app provides AAA Approved Auto Repair shop locations and information, along with a variety of other useful benefits.
Behind The Numbers
AAA has published Your Driving Costs since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles cost 9 cents a mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents per gallon.
AAA uses a proprietary methodology to calculate the costs of owning and operating a new car in the United States. Data is gathered from a variety of sources including Vincentric LLC, and incorporates standardized criteria to estimate the costs of using a new vehicle for personal transportation over five years and 75,000 miles of ownership. The use of standardized criteria ensures AAA estimates are consistent when comparing the driving costs of different vehicle types. Actual driving costs will vary based on driving habits, location, operating conditions and other factors.