Increases in maintenance, fuel and insurances costs have driven up the price of driving by nearly 2 percent over the past year, according to a AAA study released Tuesday morning.
The driver of an average-sized sedan pays 60.8 cents per mile to own and operate the vehicle, says the annual "Your Driving Costs" study. Based on an average of 15,000 miles driven, a typical driver would pay $9,122 per year. That's a jump of 1.96 percent.
Drive a much smaller or larger car? There's a big fluctuation in annual costs, depending on the size of a vehicle.
Drivers of small sedans pay 46.4 cents per mile, which amounts to $6,967 per year while owners of four-wheel drive SUVs pay the highest amount, 77.3 cents per mile for an annual total of $11,599.
"Before you make any vehicle purchase, it is important to determine ownership and operational costs and compare them to your current and future financial situation," said John Nielsen, AAA Director of Automotive Engineering And Repair.
Maintenance costs have brought the biggest increase this year, rising 11.26 percent between 2012 and 2013. They average 4.97 cents per mile for average-sized sedan owners. AAA says increased labor expenses and parts costs have caused the jump, as has a "major increase" in the price of extended-warranty policies.
Fuel costs were more stable compared to the previous year, rising 1.93 percent. The cost of fuel itself actually rose 3.84 percent to $3.486 per gallon, but gains in fuel economy helped drivers offset fuel price increases.
AAA uses a proprietary formula to analyze costs, but says that they consider variable operating costs of fuel, maintenance, repair and tires, as well as fixed ownership costs of insurance, license and registration fees, depreciation and finance charges in their methodology.
The motor club, which has more than 53 million members, says insurance costs are based on a low-risk driver with a clean record.
The annual "Your Driving Costs" study has been conducted every years since 1950, when AAA says it cost 9 cents per mile, and gas sold for an average of 27 cents per gallon.
The study breaks down the costs of each vehicle segment, and the organization has a printable brochure that contains a worksheet so drivers can determine their precise annual costs based on a specific region, driver and vehicle.