Each summer during vacation season, I dig into the fine print of AAA’s latest figures to figure out exactly how much financial freedom we have to give up in exchange for freedom behind a wheel.
The cost of driving a nice car in 2012: about $16 for each day you own a car, plus another 20 cents or so for every mile you drive. If your car travels 15,000 miles a year, it comes out to just under $9,000 a year, or about 60 cents per mile.
But here’s something I never noticed before: When AAA first started calculating car ownership costs in 1950, driving cost 9 cents a mile – the equivalent of 80 cents a mile after you account for inflation.
Next time somebody tries to tell you car owners are beset by gas prices and can’t possibly be expected to pay anything more to support the roads they use, ask them how their grandparents managed to pay so much.
In the meantime, you’ll find the web’s most balanced accounting of the various costs of driving right here.
(American car photo by Chris Richards.)