CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While gas prices are starting to ease around our region, drivers still are feeling a pinch in their wallets, according to a new survey from AAA.
The national travel agency released its annual "Your Driving Costs" study this week. It found that owning and operating a vehicle is costing 2 percent more this year than last year.
The study says the average cost to own and maintain an average-sized sedan rose 1.17 cents this year to 60.8 cents per mile, for a total cost of $9,122 a year for drivers who travel 15,000 miles annually.
Small sedans were the cheapest to maintain and own — at 46.4 cents per mile, or $6,967 a year — while four-wheel-drive SUVs were the most expensive at 77.3 cents per mile, or $11,599 annually.
The study looked beyond vehicle financing and also evaluated maintenance, fuel, tire, insurance and depreciation costs.
"Many factors go into the cost calculation of owning and operating a vehicle," said Christina Rollyson, supervisor of the AAA Charleston District Office. "Drivers need to consider more than their monthly payment when they are planning to buy a car."
Maintenance costs saw the biggest jump year over year.
Those costs rose 11.26 percent to 4.97 cents per mile on average for sedan owners. AAA attributed the jump to significant increases in labor and parts costs for some models and a major price increase for extended warranties.
Insurance costs increased 2.76 percent, or $28, to $1,029 annually. That estimate is for a low-risk driver with a clean record.
Fuel costs were up 1.93 percent to 14.45 cents per mile for the average sedan owner. AAA noted that while average year-over-year fuel costs increased 3.84 percent, that was offset by small improvements in vehicle fuel economy.