Driving Costs Holding Their Own

Consumers feeling pinched by increases in day-to-day living expenses can take some comfort in AAA’s annual study of driving costs released today.

According to the nation’s largest organization for motorists, the cost of owning and operating a new vehicle remains basically unchanged from a year ago at 52.2 cents per mile, or $7,823 per year, when driving 15,000 miles annually.

The average fuel price dropped slightly from 9.5 cents per mile to 8.9 cents per mile compared to one year ago. Fuel prices in the study are based on the fourth quarter 2006 U.S. price for regular grade fuel, which averaged $2.256 per gallon as tracked on AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report.

The costs of maintenance and repair, tires and depreciation remain unchanged from one year ago. However, minor increases in the costs of insurance, financing and licensing, registration and taxes offset any savings consumers might have realized from lower fuel costs.

AAA’s estimated average driving costs are higher than the Internal Revenue Service’s allowance for 2007 business mileage of 48.5 cents per mile. The IRS has never allowed full reimbursement of all expenses associated with automobile ownership and use. AAA first began publishing research on driving costs in 1950.

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