Despite Higher Gas Prices, 2005 Driving Costs Nearly Unchanged From 2004, AAA Says

Orlando, Fla. – 3/21/2005

AAA’s 2005 edition of Your Driving Costs shows the average cost of driving a passenger vehicle in the United States is nearly unchanged from one year ago; despite higher costs for gasoline.

This year AAA estimates it will cost an average of 56.1 cents per mile or $8,410 per year to own and operate a new passenger car, compared to $56.2 cents per mile or $8,431 annually in 2004.

Offsetting higher gasoline costs are overall reductions in the annual average cost of insurance, licensing, registration, taxes, tires and maintenance for the vehicles used in this study. The cost of gasoline in 2005 is estimated to average 8.5 cents per mile or $1,285 per year in the AAA study, compared to 6.5 cents per mile or $975 last year.

AAA calculates the average costs of all expenses associated with owning and operating a vehicle over five years and 75,000 miles of driving using a compact, mid-size and large vehicle. Covered expenses include vehicle depreciation, insurance, fuel, tires, license, registration and taxes, vehicle financing, routine maintenance and repair.

Vehicle depreciation, insurance and routine maintenance top the list as the three most expensive costs attributed to driving an automobile. AAA estimates the average new car will depreciate $3,879 per year of ownership, compared to $3,782 in 2004. The second largest expense is full insurance coverage estimated to average $1,288 per year compared to $1,603 in 2004. Routine maintenance — including the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance operations and tire expense — is estimated to cost 5.9 cents per mile or $885, compared to 6.1 cents per mile or $915 last year.

AAA calculates typical finance charges for 2005 are $739 per year based on a 5 year loan at 6 percent interest with a 10 percent down payment. In 2004, AAA estimated finance changes at $741 per year.

AAA’s estimated average driving costs are higher than the Internal Revenue Service’s allowance for business mileage of 40.5 cents per mile. The IRS has never allowed full reimbursement of all expenses associated with automobile ownership and use.

To conduct this study, AAA uses three domestically built 2005 cars — a subcompact Chevrolet Cavalier LS, a mid-size Ford Taurus SEL 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.

Upon request and subject to availability, AAA clubs can provide members with this year’s “Your Driving Costs” brochure. The brochure provides detailed information on the costs associated with each of these three vehicles.

AAA also has compiled costs for a Chevrolet TrailBlazer LS (2WD) and a Dodge Caravan SXT. However, they were not used to determine the composite national average. AAA says the total cost to drive a 2005 Chevrolet TrailBlazer LS (2WD) is 63.8 cents per mile. The driving cost for a Dodge Caravan SE is estimated at 55.3 cents per mile.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides its nearly 48 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

2005 / $8,410 / 56.1 cents
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

*AAA adopted a revised methodology for calculating driving costs to more fully capture costs incurred by average drivers.