Petroleum prices are cooling a bit: a barrel of crude has fallen $9 over the last few weeks, though at $46 per barrel, prices are still at a level that was unthinkable a few years ago. Nevertheless, the fall in crude will probably mean that gas prices will come down over the coming months, too.  Which makes it an opportune time to point out that, when it comes to the cost of owning and operating your car, the cost of gas is the least of your worries.

According to AAA, gasoline and oil changes make up just a fraction of the cost of owning and driving an automobile.  Depreciation is the big expense, followed by auto insurance.  Maintenance, financing fees, parking, and taxes take their toll as well.  When all is said and done, gasoline accounts for less than one-eighth of the annual cost of owning a new car.

This worksheet from the City of Seattle helps you work out the figure for yourself.  People who participated in a city-sponsored program that encouraged people to tally up the full cost of driving wound up driving a lot less; some even got rid of their extra cars.  Which just shows you how much difference a little awareness can make.