The true cost of vehicle ownership is a lot more than just the initial price of the vehicle or the monthly payment. There are actually quite a few factors involved in figuring out what a vehicle costs to own.

Some of the factors to consider are the cost of purchasing the vehicle (such as financing & interest costs), depreciation, insurance, fuel, regular maintenance, repairs, tires, licensing, registration fees, Deq fees, and parking fees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average American household (consumer units) spends approximately $800.00 a month on vehicle ownership. These statistics have risen almost 10% in the last year. For American consumers a vehicle is one of our 2nd largest investments and expenses.

To give you an example AAA performed a study that a medium-sized automobile – such as a Ford Fusion, Honda Accord or Toyota Camry that is driven approximately 15,000 miles per year, costs 47.6 cents per mile to legally operate. This equates out to $9,519 per year or about $793.25 per month.

A compact car like a Chevy Cobalt, Nissan Altima, or a Ford Focus driven at 15,000 miles per year cost about 43.3 cents per mile to legally operate. This equates out to $6,495 per year or $541.25 per month.

Now if you have a sport utility vehicle like a Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer, or a Toyota Highlander the price increases to 73.9 cents per mile if driven approximately 15,000 miles per year. Making the annual cost $11,085 or monthly cost of $923.75.

Unfortunately, as you can see the cost of owning a vehicle can be very expensive. According to AAA these costs are rising each year due to the increasing prices of fuel, insurance and tires. There are a few things that you can do to help keep some of your repair bills down and help reduce costs. This would be with performing regular maintenance on your vehicle. We hear many consumers say they have owned their cars for years and have not had to do anything but oil changes. Most late model vehicles can withstand some maintenance abuse before they simply fail. When they fail the repair costs usually end up 2 to 3 times the cost of what proper maintenance would have been.

If you compare vehicle maintenance to going to the dentist regularly it might be easier to understand. Keeping your teeth clean, healthy, fillings, sealants and preventative services performed. It helps to reduce the need for root canals, teeth extraction, crowns, implants and other major services. This helps in keeping your dental expenses down. If you keep your car healthy with clean fluids, take care of little leaks before they become major, keep filters clean, and your tires rotated regularly. This helps to reduce repair expenses on your vehicle.

One other thing that you can do before you purchase a vehicle, is to figure the true cost of owning that vehicle. Edmunds.com has a great new service where you enter in the year, make and model of a vehicle and it calculates the cost of owning that vehicle, using all the factors that we discussed above. The nice thing about this service is you can compare multiple vehicles so you can figure out which one really fits into your budget.

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