Vehicle operating costs up modestly


AAAThe more money consumers have to put into their wheels, the less they have to spend on other things, like food, clothing and discretionary items. According to AAA, the overall increase isn’t earth-shattering, but one category has registered a double-digit increase.

For an average sedan, the overall cost increase from 2012 to 2013 is about 1.2 cents per mile to 60.8 cents, which works out to $9,122 annually (based on 15K miles of driving); all of which works out to a 1.96% increase.

“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.” 

The price of gas has seemed volatile enough to cause us to hold our breath before approaching a pump to fill up, but it has been relatively stable YOY – the runaway inflation sector of car operation has been the maintenance category.

Here are the breakdowns for cents per mile and dollars per year for a selection of vehicle sizes:
Here’s a look at the internals of the AAA study:

Car operating cost Per mile Per year
Sml sedan 46.4 cents $6,967
Med sedan 61.0 cents $9,151
Lrg sedan 75.0 cents $11,248
Avg sedan 60.8 cents $9,122
SUV/4W 77.3 cents $11,599
Minivan 65.3 cents $9,795
Source: AAA    

This is the primary culprit feeding what increase there was – up 11.26% due to increased labor and parts costs. Also, extended warranty underwriters have been getting hit hard, fueling increases on that end.

We would have guessed this might have been higher, but the price is only up 1.93%, almost precisely matching the overall vehicle operation cost incresase.

At the risk of jinxing everybody who reads this while at the same time indulging in a horrific pun, we can report, based on the AAA study, that tire prices are flat. Get it?

This item, which you must have, now averages $1,029 per year in cost, a 2.76% increase over 2012.

The rising demand for new vehicles is diminishing the value of used vehicles, which AAA believe is the reason for a .78% in depreciation of value for owned vehicles.

RBR-TVBR observation: We’d pay close attention to where the dollar growth is for two reasons. First, this is where the money is going, and a smart provider of advertising space will follow the money — duh. Second, consumers know in their gut that taking their car to the shop is only getting more and more painful as time goes by – therefore, it is the perfect time for a smart repair shop to demonstrate that it will make the smallest dent possible in the consumer’s wallet – and your job is to convince them to use your station to do it.