AAA Says Average Driving Cost Is 56.2 Cents Per Mile For 2004

Orlando, Fla. – 4/7/2004

The average cost of driving a new passenger car in 2004 is 56.2 cents per mile or $8,431 per year, AAA’s annual Your Driving Costs study shows. AAA has reported on the average estimated cost of owning and operating a new car each year since 1950.

This year, AAA has revised its methodology for calculating driving costs to better reflect the average AAA member’s use of a vehicle over five years and 75,000 miles of ownership. This means the estimated costs for 2004 are similar, but not directly comparable to costs reported by AAA in previous years.

The largest component of vehicle cost is vehicle depreciation. AAA estimates the average new car will depreciate $3,782 per year of ownership. The second biggest expense is full insurance coverage estimated to average $1,603 per year. Routine maintenance — including the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance operations and tire expense — is estimated to cost $915 per year.

The cost of fuel — based on prices posted on AAA’s daily, online Fuel Gauge Report (www.fuelgagugereport.com) — is the fourth largest expense incurred by vehicle owners. AAA said vehicles owners will pay about $975 per year for fuel. AAA calculates typical finance charges are $741 per year based on a 5 year loan at 6 percent interest with a 10 percent down payment. The IRS tax allowance for business mileage has never allowed full reimbursement of all expenses associated with automobile ownership and use.

AAA’s cost figures are based on a composite national average of three domestically built 2004 cars — a subcompact Chevrolet Cavalier LS, a mid-size Ford Taurus SEL Deluxe and a full-size Mercury Grand Marquis LS.

These similarly equipped vehicles 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.

A pamphlet, “Your Driving Costs”, is available through most AAA clubs in the United States. The pamphlet provides detailed information on the costs associated with each of these three vehicles.

Information on the driving costs for a Chevrolet TrailBlazer LS (2WD) and a Dodge Caravan are included in the pamphlet, but are not used to determine the composite national average. AAA says the cost to drive a 2004 Chevrolet TrailBlazer LS (2WD) is 72.7 cents per mile. The driving cost for a Dodge Caravan SE is estimated at 64 cents per mile. These figures are included in the report to help buyers estimate driving costs for these vehicles.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides its nearly 47 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully-tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at: www.aaa.com.

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AAA’s ANNUAL DRIVING COST ESTIMATES

YEAR/COST PER YEAR/COST PER MILE

2004*/$8,431/56.2 cents
2003/$7,754/51.7 cents
2002/$7,533/50.2 cents
2001/$7,654/51.0 cents
2000/$7,363/49.1 cents
1999/$7,050/47.0 cents
1998/$6,908/46.1 cents
1997/$6,723/44.8 cents
1996/$6,389/42.6 cents
1995/$6,185/41.2 cents
1994/$5,916/39.4 cents

*methodology revised by AAA