Driving costs expected to be down this year

Apr. 30, 2013 @ 06:10 PM

North Carolina drivers are expected to pay lower annual driving costs this year due to falling gas prices, lower insurance costs and improved fuel economy, according to AAA Carolinas.

The not-for-profit automobile association affiliate said in a news release Tuesday the owner of an average sedan in the state is expected to pay $9,362 in 2013 to drive based on current prices. That’s compared to $10,558 last year.

The total includes insurance, maintenance, gasoline, tires, taxes, registration, depreciation and finance charges. The estimate was based on motorists driving 15,000 miles a year.

The decline was impacted by gas prices, which are below last year’s levels. North Carolina’s average price per gallon of regular, unleaded fuel was at $3.429 Tuesday, compared to $3.788 a year prior, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

If prices remain steady, drivers can expect to pay an average of 62 cents a mile in 2013, down eight cents compared to last year.

“The decrease in vehicle costs is great news for North Carolina drivers,” said Dave Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas, in the release. “Driving costs had been rising steadily since 2009, and now motorists are finally seeing some relief.”

The association reported that insurance premiums for sedans were down from $647 annually in 2012 to $619 this year.

Angela Vogel Daley, public relations manager for AAA Carolinas, said that’s based on an average of AAA Insurance rates. The association sells insurance through a variety of carriers, she said in an email.

Kerry Hall, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Insurance, said there haven’t been auto insurance rate increases in North Carolina in years.

Insurance companies implemented an average 9.4 percent increase in 2008, but customers were refunded that money under a 2009 settlement between the N.C. Department of Insurance and the N.C. Rate Bureau, she said.

“If individuals have experienced a change in premiums in the last few years, it could be due to their company offering a new (discount) or no longer offering certain discounts,” Hall said.

For its analysis, AAA compared the cost of vehicles in five separate categories: small, medium and large sedans, as well as SUVs and minivans. The cumulative final in the association’s release Tuesday was based on an average of the three sedan categories.