AAA says that the average cost to own and operate a sedan is $8876 a year. Thats the result of their "Your Driving Costs" study. Does that seem high to you?
I knew for a fact that this is much more than what the average American actually spends. We can see in the BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey for 2013 that the average household spent $9004 for 1.9 cars. Thats $4739 per car.
I wondered how AAA figured it and you have to read quite a ways into the article to find that they say: " Ownership costs are calculated based on the purchase of a new vehicle that is driven over five years and 75,000 miles"
Ah, so they're really figuring the cost of a NEW car. Well thats not really the same as the average cost of driving. Its the average cost of driving a new car.
And the methodology they use sounds a lot like how Edmunds figures the TCO for cars. I figured I'd check how AAA and Edmunds compares. I don't see an average TCO cited by Edmunds anywhere but I can pick a few car models to get an idea.
AAA total for 5 years would be $44,380
Here's a sample of cars and their TCOs from Edmunds.
Toyota Corolla = $31,835
Honda Accord = $36.976
Ford Fusion = $40,085
Buick Regal = $45,493
BMW 3 series = $51,714
This puts AAA's figure more in the average or even closer to entry level luxury car. I'd say the AAA number may be accurate as a true average figure as more expensive cars will skew the numbers upwards.
I think AAA's figure is accurate but its just an average for new cars and includes all the high end and expensive cars.