True cost of vehicle ownership includes many factors

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A new study from AAA reveals that the cost to own and operate your car includes factors many drivers don't consider but there are ways to save.

Some of the cost of owning a vehicle are obvious; others are less so and you need to know about them. But with all the costs, there are ways to lower them and free up cash for other expenses.

When many people think of the cost of owning a vehicle, they think of their car payment, gas, and insurance. But AAA says the cost goes well beyond that.

"We know that everyone keeps a close eye on what they're spending and people want to save where they can, so a really good place to start could be with your car," Michelle Donati said.

A new study from AAA reveals the average cost to own and operate a new vehicle nationwide is about $8500. Michelle Donati from AAA says one factor drivers fail to consider is depreciation; which is very high on a new car.

"One thing people can do to easily help to offset some of the depreciation costs is to buy a used car," Donati said.

Let somebody else take the new-car depreciation hit and you get the much lower depreciation of a used car. Donati says you can also save by using your vehicle less. Just carpooling or ridesharing one day a week can lead to nice savings.

"Those things can help offset the fuel that you pay, the wear and tear on the vehicle and ultimately the maintenance you end up paying," Donati said.

You can also save on maintenance, like oil changes and tire rotations, just by staying on top of it.

"AAA has done previous studies where we found you can save an average of a hundred dollars if you simply follow your vehicle's maintenance schedule," Donati said.

AAA has put out this report for many years and typically compares results to the previous year. They say that's not possible this year because of a change in methodology so comparisons will start again next year.

One last insight from the study: If you really want to buy 'new' consider the number of occupants you normally carry. For example, if you don't use all the seats in a minivan, you can save on depreciation by going with a large/mid-size sedan instead.

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