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Driving Costs

How Much Does It Cost to Drive? 

According to AAA Auto Club, the following are national average per-mile costs and the composite national average for three different cars:


Vehicle Year 2005
miles per year
10,000 15,000 20,000
2005 Chevrolet Cavalier LS
4-cyl. (2.2-liter) 4-door sedan
59.9 cents 47.6 cents 42.0 cents
2005 Ford Ford Taurus SEL 6-cycl. (3.0 liter) 4-door sedan 69.1 cents 57.2 cents 51.4 cents
2005 Mercury Grand Marquis LS 8-cyl. (4.6 liter) 4-door sedan 75.7 cents 63.4 cents 57.2 cents
Composite national average 68.2 cents 56.1 cents 50.2 cents
Vehicle Year 2000
miles per year
10,000 15,000 20,000
2000 Chevrolet Cavalier LS 4-cyl. (2.2 liter) 4-door sedan 51.7 cents 42.1 cents 38.0 cents
2000 Ford Taurus SE 6-cycl. (3.0 liter) 4-door sedan 59.2 cents 48.2 cents 43.4 cents
2000 Mercury Grand Marquis GS 8-cyl. (4.6 liter) 4-door sedan 74.2 cents 57.1 cents 50.5 cents
Composite national average 61.7 cents 49.1 cents 43.9 cents



You can also view detailed driving costs for these cars or SUV or minivan detailed driving costs (2005 Chevrolet TrailBlazer LS and a 2005 Dodge Caravan SXT). Costs for these latter two vehicles are not part of the composite national average.

AAA's analysis covers vehicles equipped with standard and optional accessories including automatic transmission, air conditioning, power steering, power disc brakes, AM/FM stereo, drive and passenger-side air bags, anti-lock brakes, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, tinted glass, emission equipment and rear-window defogger. 

Fuel costs are based on a fourth quarter 2004 average price of $1.939 per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.  Fuel mileage is based on EPA Fuel-economy ratings for 2005 models, weighted 60 percent city and 40 percent highway driving. 

Insurance figures are based on personal use of vehicles driven less than 10 miles to or from work, with no young drivers. Normal depreciation costs are based on the difference between the new vehicle purchase price and the estimated trade-in value at the end of five years. 

Driving costs for a 2005 Chevrolet TrailBlazer LS and a 2005 Dodge Caravan SXT are listed here. Costs for these two vehicles are not part of the composite national average. They are included as information to help car buyers estimate operating costs for these two vehicle types only.

Vehicle costs fall into two categories: 

  • 0perating Cost 

Gas, oil, maintenance and tire expenditures are operating costs related to the number of miles you drive. 

  • Ownership Costs 

Taxes, depreciation, finance charges, registration, insurance and license fees are ownership costs. These costs are incurred regardless of how often you drive your vehicle. 

To determine vehicle costs accurately, keep personal records on the following: 

Gas and oil

Begin with a full tank of gasoline and write down the current odometer reading. Each time you buy gasoline, note the number of gallons, how much you pay and the odometer reading. These figures can then be used to calculate average miles per gallon and cost of gas per mile, as follows: gas cost per mile gallons cost 

Maintenance and Tires 

Jot down what you spend for routine maintenance, repairs and tires. 


Total the premiums of property damage and liability, comprehensive and collision policies that directly relate to your vehicle's operation. 

License, Registration Fees and Property or Use Taxes

Record these as once-a-year costs. Don't include sales or excise taxes paid-they are part of the vehicle's purchase price. 


To calculate depreciation -the difference between what you pay for your vehicle and what you sell it for-subtract the projected trade-in value from its purchase price. Divide the difference by the number of years you plan to keep the vehicle. 

Finance Charges

Note interest charges if you borrowed money to buy the vehicle.

The above information was prepared by AAA with assistance of Runzheimer International. 


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