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AAA: Tire prices increase driving costs 96¢/mile

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The American Automobile Association (AAA) has released its annual Your Driving Costs study revealing a 3.4 percent rise in the yearly costs to own and operate a sedan in the U.S. The average costs rose 1.9 cents per mile to 58.5 cents per mile, or $8,776 per year, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.

The cost of tires had the largest percentage increase, rising 15.7% to 0.96 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. The rise in costs of raw materials, energy and transportation has led to notable tire price increases in recent years and 2011 is no exception. Also contributing to higher average tire costs is a trend by automakers to equip their sedans with premium grade tires as original equipment.

"Despite seeing reduced costs for maintenance and insurance this year, there is an overall increase in the costs to own and operate a vehicle in the U.S. this year," says AAA’s National Director of Auto Repair, Buying and Consumer Programs John Nielsen. "The 2011 rise in costs is due to relatively large increases in fuel, tire and depreciation costs as well as more moderate increases in other areas."

In-depth findings of this year's study, including a breakdown of specific costs for each category of vehicle and costs at different annual mileages are available at select local AAA branch offices or may be downloaded at

The study also found that:

  • Improved fuel economy can't counter increased gas prices.
  • Depreciation continues as highest and most overlooked annual cost.
  • Maintenance and insurance costs have decreased.

AAA has published the Your Driving Costs study since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost 9 cents per mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents per gallon.

AAA's 'Your Driving Costs' study analyzes the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the U.S. Ownership costs factored into the study include the cost of insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. Operational costs in the study include fuel, maintenance and tires.

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