AAA now estimates that its costs 60 cents per mile to operate a new vehicle. Despite the recent high cost of gas, fuel costs only account for less than a fourth of the expense of operation. So where is all the money going?

Depreciation. When you buy a new car, the value drops like a rock the minute you drive it off the dealer lot. Other factors that figure in the 60 cents per mile cost are insurance, maintenance, the interest on a car loan and more.

Meanwhile, speaking of depreciation, Kiplinger recently named the 12 Best Resale Value Cars for 2012. Here are some highlights, after five years of ownership:

  • Mini Cooper - Retains 53% of the value you originally paid for it
  • Infiniti G37X - Retains 45% of value
  • Ford Focus - Retains 45% of value
  • Audi A7 - Retains 44% of value
  • BMW 128 - Retains 43% of value

Other vehicles that made the list include the Ford Mustang, the Subaru Forester, the BMW X5, the Jeep Wrangler Sport, the Toyota Sienna minivan and the Toyota Prius V.

So these are the very best and they hold only less than half of their original value after five years of ownership! (After three years, most have 60% of their original value)

The message is clear: Cars lose so much in value over time. They are a depreciating asset. Remember that a new vehicle purchase is almost always a lifestyle purchase and keep that AAA figure in mind. For every mile you drive, 60 cents vanishes from your wallet.

Editor's note: This segment originally aired May 3.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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