What it costs to own a vehicle in 2019
When determining whether you can afford to take on a new car, keep in mind that monthly payments and fuel aren't the only costs involved.
Research by AAA has pushed the average annual cost of vehicle ownership to $9,282, or $773.50 per month, in 2019. That's the highest figure recorded since AAA began tracking expenses in 1950.
"AAA found finance charges rose more sharply in the last 12 months than any major expense associated with owning a vehicle," said Kathleen Zinszer, public affairs specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "The spike in finance charges, with nearly a $200 increase, was fueled by rising federal interest rates and higher vehicle prices."
The report also cited a greater prevalence of 72-month car loans — buyers are taking longer to pay off their vehicles, and putting out much more for that perk.
AAA said every 12 months added to the life of a loan adds nearly $1,000 in total finance charges.
"Long-term loans offer lower monthly car payments, and that can be very attractive, but ultimately it costs the consumer more," Zinszer said.
The report recorded a 1.9% increase in the cost of licenses, registration fees and taxes. Average maintenance and repair costs climbed nearly 9% per mile, and the average fuel cost rose 5%.
As it typically has, depreciation ranks as the top cost of ownership, accounting for more than a third of the average annual cost. According to the report, vehicles lose value worth an average of $3,334 per year.
Total costs vary greatly between vehicle categories. A small sedan, for instance, may run an owner a little more than $7,000 per year, while the owner of a pickup puts out more than $10,000.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.