AAA: Costs of owning a vehicle at 6-year low

WASHINGTON — Thanks to falling gas prices, the average cost of owning a vehicle in the United States this year has hit a six-year low — $8,558.

AAA Mid-Atlantic says the main reason for the lower costs is low gas prices, saving drivers an average of more than $400 compared with 2015.

“Driving costs vary widely based on driver, vehicle type and usage. Consumers can reduce their annual driving costs in several ways,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs.

“First, to reduce depreciation costs, they can purchase a vehicle that historically holds its value well. Also, they can select a less expensive vehicle, or one with higher fuel economy to help offset other costs.”

Savings on gas make up for all the other aspects of owning a car that have increased, such as insurance, license and registration fees and maintenance.

The cost of owning and operating an SUV is slightly less than that of a large sedan in 2016.

AAA says owners of both minivans and SUVs also benefit from lower driving costs in 2016, at $9,262 and $10,255 respectively.

“One in five Americans plan to purchase or lease a new vehicle in the next year, and many consumers may mistakenly believe minivans are more expensive to drive than a large sedan,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of automotive engineering and repair.

“With lower gas prices, these vehicles offer drivers the flexibility of transporting additional passengers and cargo while remaining more affordable to own and operate compared to a large sedan.”

WTOP’s Samatha Loss contributed to this report.

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