South Carolina motorists will pay an average of 58 cents for every mile they drive their car in 2008, an increase of 11 cents per mile over 2007, and the largest one year increase ever, according to AAA Carolinas.
At today’s prices that translates to an extra cost of over $1,668 for a person driving the average car 15,000 miles due to increases in car prices, insurance, as well as gasoline.
Operating costs could rise, as gas prices are the most volatile component of a vehicle’s operating expenses. Of the 58 cents a mile, 17 cents are calculated as operating costs and includes gas, maintenance and tires.
With a current state average price of $3.479 a gallon, the average sedan driven 15,000 miles this year, and getting 31 miles to the gallon, would spend $1,704 for gasoline.
“The price of gas is the most uncontrollable factor in operating costs for motorists,” said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. “Driving less miles will actually increase the cost per mile driven because two-thirds of the dollars spent in operating a motor vehicle are fixed, but a person’s out of pocket expenses will be less.”
AAA’s calculation of driving costs looks at the total operating costs per mile and the total ownership costs per mile, adding them to get the total cost per mile with the total cost per year is based on driving 15,000 miles a year.
South Carolina statistics include using typical car prices that have risen, on average, more than $2,000 in the past year. Also added in are state license and registration fees and the state’s first-year sales and property taxes (also up due to the higher average price of a new vehicle).
Based on driving 15,000 miles a year, the car owner would spend, on average, $8,765 for insurance, maintenance, gasoline, tires, taxes, registration, depreciation and finance charges, this year.
The most expensive ownership cost per mile is depreciation, $3,952 a year, or 26 cents a mile, for a motorist driving 15,000 miles a year. Depreciation accelerates if the vehicle is driven more and decreases when a vehicle is driven less.
Other ownership costs includes insurance at 3.6 cents a mile, finance charges at 7.9 cents a mile, and license, registration, and taxes at 3.8 cents a mile.
Other operating expenses include maintenance at an average of 4.6 cents per mile and tires at less than a penny per mile, or .7 cents.
AAA calculates typical finance charges to be $3,952 car average per year based on a five-year loan at 6 percent interest with a 10 percent cash down payment.
AAA compared the cost of vehicles in three separate car categories, small, medium and large sedan, and then also looked at the costs of operating a sports utility vehicle (SUV) and a minivan.
Separate calculations were done for sport utility vehicles, which would cost $11,252 a year to own and operate ($2,487 more than the average sedan) and for minivans, which would cost $10,354 a year to own and operate ($1,589 more than the average sedan).
Small sedan car models included the Chevrolet Cobalt, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla.
Medium sedan car models used were the Chevrolet Impala, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.
Large sedan car models include the Buick Lucerne, Chrysler 300, Ford Five Hundred (now Taurus), Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon.
Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) models include the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota 4Runner.
Minivan models include the Chevrolet Uplander, Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona, Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.
Vehicles were similarly equipped to include air conditioning, automatic transmission, power steering, AM/FM stereo, dual air bags, antilock brakes, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, tinted glass and a rear-window defogger.
The methodologies estimating annual driving costs 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 vary based on individual driving habits, location, operating conditions and other factors.
Two pamphlets to help motorists keep track of their driving costs and their gas costs titled, “Your Driving Costs,” and “A Gas Watcher’s Guide,” are available on-line and by calling AAA Carolinas at (704) 569-7883.
A chart of South Carolina 2008 driving costs for various vehicles traveling 10,000, 15,000 and 20,000 miles a year is attached.
An affiliate of the American Automobile Association, AAA Carolinas was founded in 1922 as a not-for-profit organization that now serves more than 1.7 million members with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of travelers.