New Drivers: Start your Engines!
You're smart.
Compare operating costs before you buy.

You've got the license and Insurance. You've got the keys. You're ready to roll.

If you take care of your car, you'll reduce the odds of being stranded with a breakdown.

Here are a few things you should know about car operating costs you might not have thought about.

Turn the key, start paying

This table shows the average costs per mile of driving different kinds of vehicles if you drive about 10,000 miles a year. Expenses include gas, oil, tires and maintenance, insurance, financing, depreciation, license, registration, taxes.

Your Driving Costs
Type of vehicle Examples Average cost
per mile
Average cost
per year

(10,000 miles
per year)
Small sedan Ford Focus
Honda Civic
58 cents $5,822
Medium sedan Chevy Malabu
Toyota Camry
76 cents $7,587
Large sedan Chrysler 300
Nissan Maxima
93 cents $9,333
Minivan Dodge Grand Caravan
Honda Odyssey
81 cents $8,118
SUV Jeep Grand Cherokee
Nissan Pathfinder
93 cents $9,260

(Source: American Automobile Association, 2015.)

Read the owner's manual

Auto manufacturers put everything you need to know in the car owner's manual. For example, your manual will tell you how to:

Plus, it'll give you a schedule of when and what to do for routine maintenance and performance checks. You don't need to read it from cover to cover (unless you suffer from insomnia) but you should familiarize yourself with its contents.

Keep the manual handy in your glove compartment.


Some states require all drivers to obtain auto insurance. If you borrow money to pay for the car from a financial institution, they will probably require full coverage insurance as a condition of the loan.


In your hand...
Before you hold the keys, figure out fuel costs.

Large vehicles, especially trucks and vans, suck gas so quickly you can watch the fuel gauge move as you're going down the road. Smaller cars can cruise along for weeks on a tank of gas.

While the average fuel tank size is 15-18 gallons, the gas hogs usually take more than 20 gallons to fill, which translates to around $70 for each fill-up. What to do?

Before you buy, figure out how much money you'll need over the next year for gas.

It could make you think twice about the type of car you buy. There's nothing more depressing than having a really great car sit in your driveway because you can't afford the gas.

Failing to keep your oil clean is the one thing that will ruin your car the fastest... 

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