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Your car could be costing as much as your rent

A new report reveals the true cost of owning and operating a vehicle in the U.S.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 1, 2014 2:51PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyIf you're feeling broke at the end of the month and don't know where all your money disappeared to, just take a peek in your garage. Your car could be sucking your bank account dry.

AAA recently released its 2013 Your Driving Costs report (.pdf file), which reveals what Americans are really paying to drive. It showed an almost 2 percent increase in the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the U.S.

Los Angeles, Calif., traffic on Interstate 405 © VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm/Digital Vision/Getty ImagesIf you drive a mid-size sedan, like a Toyota Camry, Chevy Impala or Ford Fusion, you're paying about 60.8 cents per mile, or $9,122 a year. That is based on driving 15,000 miles per year, which is common for American workers. If you drive an SUV, you're paying about $11,600 per year, AAA said.

That's a lot of money. And more than some people pay for rent.

According to a press release from AAA:

"Many factors go into the cost calculation of owning and operating a vehicle," said John Nielsen, AAA director of automotive engineering and repair. "This year, changes in maintenance, fuel and insurance costs resulted in the increase to just over 60 cents a mile."

Here’s a breakdown of the costs that AAA said drove the 2 percent increase in operating and owning a vehicle:

  • Maintenance costs -- up 11.26 percent between 2012 and 2013.
  • Fuel costs -- increased 1.93 percent.
  • Tire costs -- no change between 2012 and 2013.
  • Insurance costs -- rose 2.76 percent.
  • Depreciation costs -- increased by 0.78 percent.

If you're looking for a way to trim your car costs, Autoweek recommends following these tips from AAA:

  • Bigger isn't better. "Don't buy more car than you need," Autoweek said. You could save about $2,000 per year by purchasing a size down.
  • Don't buy new. Cars depreciate by nearly 20 percent in the first year. That's a big hit. Do your homework and consider purchasing a vehicle that holds its value.
  • Know your car. Read your car's manual and make sure you're keeping up on its recommended maintenance. Most cars will easily exceed the 100,000-mile mark if you regularly maintain your vehicle.
  • Price insurance. Before you buy a vehicle, research the costs associated with insuring it. Depending on the make, model and year of car, insurance costs can fluctuate significantly.

More on Money Talks News:

Apr 1, 2014 3:13PM

My very first, brand spanking new, motor vehicle was a 1971 Ford Mach 1 Mustang (fastback) with a 351cu. in. Cleveland engine. Cost: A "whopping" ***$2,800.00*** IN CASH! Money saved during my "fighting" tour in the Vietnam War.

Apr 1, 2014 3:39PM
I sold my car after calculating that between car payment, insurance, fuel and maintenance, I was spending well over $500/month.  I discovered that if I took a bus to work I could save almost $400/month and that was even calculating in treating myself to cab ride home on Friday afternoons and taking a cab to the mall once a month.  In addition, I had the added benefit of losing 60 lbs over a 2 year period just because I was walking more.
Apr 1, 2014 4:32PM

I own a 91 chev that's paid off all it costs me is maint and that's an oil change  so this article is way off base, the only time I bought a new car was back in 1986..after that I was done, we pay cash for everything and have zero debit




Apr 1, 2014 3:52PM
The day that you drive the new car off the car lot, it's "used" and has lost value.  Save a lot of money by buying a used 1-3 year old carr, maintaining it and budget so that you can pay if off within 3 years if you need to get an auto loan.
Apr 1, 2014 5:19PM
Apr 1, 2014 5:26PM
New cars have some nice useful gadgets, but when you look at the total cost ,even a "cheap" new car is not cheap after the taxes, more taxes, upkeep costs and when compared to some cars from the 80's and 90's the fuel economy is not much better. As reality is setting in more and more that things won't be getting better anytime soon, more and more will drive older cars or just choose to not have a car at all.
Apr 1, 2014 5:25PM
Drive through any suburban neighborhood and you see the garage piled high with junk bought at WalMart and in the driveway a huge SUV for mom and a big pickup for dad.  These people slave away every day of their lives for a paycheck which goes for house payments to store the WalMart junk, car, gas and insurance payments.  Sadly, they actually spend only a small amount of time in the vehicles- Maybe an hour to work in the morning, an hour back home in the afternoon and maybe an hour shopping. So they spend all that money for something that sits parked for 21 of every 24 hours.
Apr 1, 2014 4:29PM

Car for groceries, motorcycle to work.  Done and done.

Apr 1, 2014 5:31PM
Most people don't know this that Car Dealers are nothing more than the middlemen, retailer for the manufacturer. So, if you continue to purchase a vehicle at a Car Dealer then you are a sucker and the Car Dealership's owner is laughing all the way to the Bank. Buy your next new car through Costco or hopefully cars will be sold in the near future like Tesla sells cars directly to the consumer. Do we really need to go into a car dealership to be hassled, stressed out, waste our time and finally be uphold on nonsense and get ripped off. If you like this then keep patronizing car dealerships. Though, if you want things to change then you can buy a brand new car at an awesome price by going through sites like USAA, Costco or Truecar. You need to bypass the hassle of the car dealerships to get a new car at a really great price. Also, if you buy a car at a dealership did you know they make their money by being in cahoots with the financing companies and will most likely always attempt to put you in a loan with a higher interest rate. You don't need to go to a car dealership to buy a car, its just that everyone is being brainwashed into thinking that's what your supposed to do.
Apr 1, 2014 6:05PM

The sticker prices of new cars are way too high, I wonder if the automakers ever passed on the money they saved from tier two wages,and outsourcing production of parts and whole cars?

And auto insurance premiums are ridiculous in my state, soon only the wealthy and privileged will be able to own cars in this country.

Apr 1, 2014 4:12PM
NEVER buy a new vehicle for it loses a lot of value once it's driven off the car lot. Try to save as much as you can on a down payment to off set the monthly payments and try not finance for more than 36 months and not buy the fanciest model out there. Be practical and smart and be sure to check out Consumer Reports or Reviews for problems on each vehicle before buying one. Also, don't believe everything a car salesman tells you, either. Wait until the end of the month when the salesmen are desperate to cut a deal on any vehicle on the lot in order to make their quota. I should know a little bit since I have dated two car salesmen in the past and my dad was also a pretty smart guy when it came to buying a good vehicle, also. They all taught me how to haggle and to stick to my guns when buying a vehicle and it works too!
Apr 1, 2014 4:51PM
There's a sucker born every minute.
Apr 1, 2014 4:45PM
I like the file photo from the 80's....possible early 90's. Are they trying to subliminally tell us to buy used?
Apr 1, 2014 4:27PM
Um, I doubt it, they're both paid for, got basic insurance, and I drive less then eight miles a day....
Apr 1, 2014 4:08PM
Of course it can.  If you need to keep up with the Joneses.
Apr 1, 2014 5:10PM
I'm buying a Dodge Challenger R/T soon, but no way will I buy new.  I'll find one 2-3 years old and let some sucker take the depreciation hit.  Almost as good and a whole lot cheaper!  :)
People are just now figuring this out. Listen folks, you don't need a 40k car. I buy used. really used and put a few bucks into then and drive them until they are ready for the bone yard. last one I got for nothing. Put 400 bucks into it to get it road worthy and then normal maintenance.. Drove it 8 years.
Apr 2, 2014 10:25AM

Best way to stay poor is buy a too expensive car as so many who are on limited incomes do. Besides the money lost on the payment, you have higher taxes, insurance (most of the time), and repairs. You now have far less disposable income for bills, entertainment, emergency expenses and nothing to set aside or invest towards your retirement.

Buy cheap, reliable, and take care of it car as IT'S JUST A CAR. Spend that extra money else where for higher quality of life.

Bought new 1986 Toyota truck for $10,000 and it's been my daily diver for 28 years and 420,000 miles. I still have people walking up and asking me if I wan to sell it.  


Apr 1, 2014 8:20PM
The last time I bought a new was back in 1978.  I still have that piece of crud!   Never could bring myself to sell it to somebody else!  I'm just not that morally bankrupt!  Back then, a warranty lasted 6000 miles or six months, which ever came first!   The dealer kept trying to put me off for warranty work, claiming that my car was breaking in, not down!  They eventually had to replace the rear end not even four months after I bought the car!  Guess who had to pay for the tow?  Imagine going to pick up your new car and it wouldn't even start?  Imagine runs in the paint job?  Even if it is new, never ever pay for a car before you see it!  You just can't trust the American manufacture to deliver a product without problems.   I was living in Europe at the time.  I had the car shipped to me!  I learned the hard way.  You can't trust the American business man!  I swore that I would never buy another new car after driving that piece of crud for less than six months!  Fool me once, shame on you!  Fool me twice, shame on me!   When I finally, absolutely, can't stand it any more, I'm going to crush that 1978 Corvette piece of crud into a block of scrap and ship it back to GM where it came from! 
Apr 2, 2014 12:50AM
If this isn't sheer proof that prices keep rising while wages remain stagnant, I don't know what is!
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