It Costs a Motorist Almost $8,500 a Year to Operate a New Vehicle

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It will cost a driver an average of $8,469 a year, or $706 each month, to own and operate a new vehicle in 2017, according to a newly published study from AAA.

The annual evaluation of driving costs from Orlando, Florida-based AAA shows that small sedans are the least expensive vehicles to drive at $6,354 a year. Small sport utility vehicles ($7,606), hybrids ($7,687) and electric vehicles ($8,439) all have lower-than-average driving costs to U.S. drivers.

Pickup trucks are the most expensive vehicles to drive, at $10,054 annually, among the nine categories included in the evaluation.

“Determining the cost of a new vehicle car is more than calculating a monthly payment,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of automotive engineering and repair. “While sales price is certainly a factor, depreciation, maintenance, repair and fuel costs should be equally important considerations for anyone in the market for a new vehicle.”

To estimate the overall cost to own and operate a new vehicle, AAA evaluated forty-five 2017 model-year vehicles across nine categories and focused on mid-range, top-selling vehicles. AAA’s annual driving cost is based on a sales-weighted average of the individual costs for all the vehicle types. Key findings of the study include the following.

Depreciation

Depreciation — the declining value of a vehicle over time — is the biggest expense associated with buying a new car. New vehicles lose an average of $15,000 in value during the first five years of ownership. In 2017, small sedans ($2,114) and small SUVs ($2,840) have the lowest annual depreciation costs, while minivans ($3,839) and electric vehicles ($5,704) are at the high end of the scale.

Maintenance and Repair

To calculate annual maintenance and repair costs, AAA examined factory-recommended maintenance, replacement tires, extended warranty costs and services associated with typical wear and tear. New vehicles, on average, will cost a motorist $1,186 a year to maintain and repair.

Fuel

Fuel costs range from 3.68 cents a mile for electric vehicles to 13.88 cents a mile for pickup trucks. New vehicle owners, on average, will spend just over 10 cents a mile — about $1,500 annually — to gas up their vehicles.

Electric vehicles

Electric vehicles are new to the study, and AAA found that these vehicles have lower-than-average driving costs at $8,439 a year. Without a gasoline engine to maintain, electric vehicles have the lowest annual maintenance and repair costs, at $982 per year.

By relying on electricity instead of gasoline, fuel costs are also significantly lower than average, at under four cents a mile. Depreciation, however, is currently high for these vehicles, which lose an average of nearly $6,000 in value every year.

“Although electric vehicles can have higher upfront costs, lower fuel and maintenance costs make them a surprisingly affordable choice in the long run,” said Nielsen. “For even lower costs, car shoppers can avoid high depreciation costs by selecting a used electric vehicle.”