Auto repair shop
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Owning and maintaining a car costs more today than it did in 1950. When AAA put out its first ‘Your Driving Costs’ report 63 years ago, a car that was driven 10,000 miles per year cost its owner 9 cents per mile. Fast-forward to 2013 and AAA’s latest study finds that the average sedan’s ownership costs are up to $9,122 per year or 60.8 cents per mile, assuming you drive 15,000 miles annually. That’s almost a two-percent increase compared with 2012.

“This year, changes in maintenance, fuel and insurance costs resulted in the increase to just over 60 cents a mile,” says John Nielsen, AAA Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. Vehicle maintenance costs, which include the price of replacement parts, labor and buying an extended warranty, are up 11.26 percent, while fuel costs increased 1.93 percent compared with last year. AAA also reports that insurance costs for sedans rose 2.76 percent to an average price of $1,029 per year. 

Depreciation costs are up too, as AAA reports a .78 percent increase to $3,571 per year. MSN Autos reports that “this is likely due to growth in new-vehicle sales, which has put more used cars in the marketplace. That in turn drops the resale value of older models in good condition.”

While these estimates apply to the average sedan, operating costs will vary depending on the type of car you own. Small sedans have the lowest costs at 46.4 cents per mile or $6,967 annually, while owners of large cars will shell at 75 cents per mile or $11,248 per year. At $11,599 per year or 77.3 cents per mile, four-wheel drive SUVs cost more to own than any other vehicles in the study.

If you’re looking for a car that’s a great value, check out our Best Car for the Money Awards, which highlight cars that combine the average price paid and five-year total cost of ownership data with information from our rankings.

Shopping for a new car? Check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars. Then, look for a great deal on a new car by checking out this month’s best car deals. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.