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May/June 2012 Issue

Annual driving costs inching toward $9,000

Motorists will pay about 1 cent more per mile to drive in 2012, which doesn’t sound like much until you add up your mileage.

With gas prices and some other costs associated with car ownership rising, motorists will pay $8,946 to operate their cars this year, an increase of about $170 compared to last year. The increase comes on the heels of a hike of nearly $300 last year.

Motorists will pay an average of 59.6 cents per mile to drive this year, up by 1.1 cents compared to last year, according to AAA’s recently released “Your Driving Costs” brochure. The driving costs are based on 15,000 miles of driving using the average costs for the five top-selling models in three categories: small sedan, medium sedan, and large sedan.

AAA’s annual analysis of how much motorists pay to drive is made up of two types of costs. Operating costs, which include such expenses as gas and maintenance, rose by about 2 cents per mile this year. And the ownership costs–comprised of such things as insurance, taxes, and licensing fees–actually fell by about 30 cents per day.

The brochure also includes driving costs for four-wheel-drive SUVs, which will be 75.7 cents per mile in 2012, nearly 1 cent more per mile, for a total of $11,360 for the year. Driving costs for minivans will be 63.4 cents per mile, nearly unchanged from last year. It will cost $9,504 to own and operate a minivan this year.

AAA’s cost estimates are different for business-related use of a personal vehicle. Such payments cover operating costs for mileage and only a portion of the fixed costs.

For a free copy of the brochure, send a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope to: AAA, “Your Driving Costs,” 12901 N. Forty Drive, St. Louis, MO, 63141. To see the brochure online, visit the news/ safety section of

2012 driving costs


Vin Etch can help deter vehicle theft

As an effective theft deterrent, the Club will offer window etching of your vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification number) at several AAA offices this summer.

The cost for the service is $30 for AAA members and $40 for non-members, including six etchings per car. AAA offers discounts on insurance for VIN Etching.

Call 1-800-AAA-ROAD ext. 6821 to make appointments at least 48 hours in advance of the below dates. Please have your VIN number handy when calling for appointments.

View dates and locations



Underinflated, worn tires can waste fuel and risk your safety

Motorists often focus on what’s under the hood to assess a car’s safety and reliability, but it’s the lowest part of the car that should be a high priority: the tires.

Tires are among the most important, yet most neglected, components of a car, so AAA and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) are using this year’s National Tire Safety Week, June 3–9, to urge motorists to spend a few minutes a month on tire maintenance year-round.

More maintenance is necessary, RMA reports. During last year’s National Tire Safety Week, an RMA survey of more than 5,400 vehicles found 50 percent had at least one underinflated tire. It’s a simple procedure to check a tire’s pressure, yet another RMA survey found 85 percent of Americans do not know how to do it. Click on to see a video on checking tire pressure.

Having the correct pressure is vital because underinflated tires can affect handling, leading to skidding and loss of control.

In addition to increasing the likelihood of tire failure, underinflated tires can reduce fuel economy. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that properly inflated tires will save up to 12 cents per gallon at the pump.

When checking your tire’s pressure, also check the tread depth. Worn tires are less able to grip the road. Place a quarter in the groove of the tread upside-down. If the tread does not reach the top of Washington’s head, it’s time to start shopping for new tires.

For more tire safety details, visit

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Proper tire inflation and tread depth are vital for driver safety.

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