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Get the Big Picture on Yearly Car Costs with CAA's Driving Costs Calculator

How much does it cost to run your car every year? Probably more than you think. According to the CAA, "four out of five Canadians underestimate the cost of owning and operating a vehicle."

That's why the CAA has developed a Driving Costs Calculator - an interactive website that lets you enter your vehicle information and get a picture of what you're spending over the year in fuel, insurance and maintenance. It also provides an estimate of the environmental impact of your vehicle in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Driving Costs Calculator lets you choose a more generic option (Option 1) to price out how much an average vehicle costs. This is handy if you're just thinking of purchasing a vehicle and are wondering if you can carry the costs. If you already have a vehicle, you can choose Option 2, which lets you enter your specific vehicle's parameters to get a more accurate picture of your yearly costs.

CAA Driving Costs Calculator
Photo: CAA

I went the option 2 route with our 2006 Saturn Vue, Chloe. If you have more than one vehicle, you can compare vehicles once you complete the first cost calculation. Next, you'll enter your average annual mileage, your city vs. highway mileage and the cost of fuel in your area. Chloe just kicked over to 35,000 km this week and we've had her for seven years, so that's an average of 5000 km/year.

CAA Driving Costs Calculator
Photo: CAA

Step 3 has you enter your license and registration fees, financing charges and insurance costs. Since we own our car outright and pay the license fee along with our ICBC insurance, I only had to fill one of these blanks.

CAA Driving Costs Calculator
Photo: CAA

Step 4 is where it gets a little more complex - according to MotorTrend, my 2006 Saturn Vue has a current value of approximately $10,000 and I can't remember the initial price of the vehicle (we leased to own), so I had to fudge some numbers here.

I added our most recent yearly maintenance cost and our "additional expenses" is the cost of getting the car detailed once a year to get the dog hair out.

CAA Driving Costs Calculator
Photo: CAA

And here are the results! $5657/year is definitely more than I would have guessed.

CAA Driving Costs Calculator
Photo: CAA
Once you've calculated the costs, you can email them to yourself for future reference.

The CAA Driving Costs Calculator is an easy way to keep a handle on your annual car costs - give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments.

- Rose R.

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