Do you know how much it really costs to drive?

According to a CAA study, it's a lot more than just the cost of gas

Published: February 26, 2013, 6:00 AM

Drivers typically pay a lot of attention to the price of gasoline and to their vehicles' fuel economy. But, according to the CAA (Canadian Automobile Association), there is much more to the cost of owning and operating an automobile than just what it costs for fuel.

In a CAA study conducted as part of an Ipsos Reid poll of over 2,000 Canadians, about four of every five respondents under-estimated the cost of owning and operating a vehicle.

In fact, six in ten under-estimated the annual cost by $4,000 or more.

The study also revealed that two-thirds of Canadians think their annual grocery bill is greater than their cost of vehicle ownership. Not so.

In the province of British Columbia, for example, the annual cost of ownership for an average compact car is said to be about $9,500, while the average resident spends about $5,700 a year on groceries.

Based on the study, much of the discrepancy between actual ownership costs and Canadians' own estimates comes from not including depreciation in their calculations.

When asked to list vehicle expenses in order of cost, respondents ranked depreciation in the bottom three, when in fact it's one of the biggest costs of ownership.

To help Canadians understand the real cost of owning and driving a vehicle as well as to make well-informed decisions regarding a vehicle purchase and use, CAA offers a free online "Driving Costs" calculator that determines yearly figures by vehicle make, class, and province.

Users can input their own information, if they know it, to get an extremely accurate picture, or use representative figures supplied by CarDATA Inc. to get a good estimate of their annual driving costs.

The calculator also displays the annual greenhouse gas emissions for the vehicle selected and compares them to the best-in-class for that yype of vehicle.

You can use this CAA tool to calculate your own cost of vehicle ownership by clicking here.