Vehicle Operating Costs
The total, per-mile cost of operating a motor vehicle, as calculated annually by AAA, includes a snapshot of fuel, maintenance, repairs
and tire replacement costs across several vehicle types plying American roads. In addition to their relative measurement value, many
individuals and businesses rely on per-mile indices to determine mileage reimbursement rates for the following year.
The table below shows the annual total cost of operating a light vehicle, based on cost components such as tire, maintenance,
repairs and fuel. Fuel cost was derived from AAA’s late-2016 Fuel Gauge Report average cost of $2.329 per gallon. Comparatively,
driving a small sedan was cheaper in 2017, due to lower gas and tire prices, maintenance, etc. Conversely, an SUV 4WD was the
most expensive vehicle to drive. For example, the gasoline price of $2.329 per gallon, combined with improved vehicle gas mileage,
raised the per mile fuel cost of SUV 4WD by 0.86 cents from 10.90 in 2016 to 11.76 cents per mile in 2017.
Vehicle operating costs have a tremendous impact on Americans’ driving habits. In 2008, the last major fuel-related spike translated
to fewer total and average miles driven, less discretionary travel, an increase in the use of public transportation and some sources
say, vacations closer to home. With gas prices at the pump not expected to rise above $3.00 this summer driving season, the trend in
discretionary travel for 2018 is uncertain. Nationally, as of March 2018, gas prices averaged $2.716, up 0.283 cents higher than a year
ago prices.
Light Vehicle Operating Costs, 2017
(Cents Per Mile) 0
SUV 4WDLarge SedanMinivanMedium SedanSmall Sedan
19.58 20.03
Source: American Automobile Association (AAA)
Operating CostsSmall Sedan
Minivan Large SedanSUV 4WD
Gasoline 7.18 9.03 10.95 11.14 11.76
Maintenance, repairs
and tires
6.83 7.94 7.81 8.44 8.27
Total Cost Per Mile14.0116.9718.7619.5820.03
Light Vehicle Total Operating Costs 2017
(Cents Per Mile)
Notes: Fuel costs of $2.329 per gallon derived from AAA’s Q4-2016 Fuel Gauge report
Source: American Automobile Association (AAA)
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