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Affording a car is getting more expensive in Tampa
Jason Lanning | Spectrum News
August 17, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. — A new report out by AAA Motor Club shows for the first time ever, Tampa Bay residents are paying on average, more than $10,000 a year to drive and maintain a vehicle.

The spiked price is due in part to higher fuel and repair prices.

That’s why turning the ignition key on her new 2013 Hyundai Elantra was such a big deal for Nicole Monique Johnson this week.

“Very exciting,” Johnson said. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to have my own now, I feel more sufficient, self sufficient."

And its thanks to Wheels of Success in Tampa, a nonprofit that helps qualifying adults get cars that will help them get to work and school.

Johnson says she recently graduated and is now a massage therapist. But without a car, trying to get to clients wasn’t going to be feasible.

“A 20 minute drive took me an hour and a half to get to work, so that was pretty stressful,” Johnson said. It took a lot of time that I had to consider. And I have a small child at home and that took time away from me caring for her as well, just for me to get to work."

With 11 percent inflation in Hillsborough County, one of the highest in the country, cars have quickly become out of reach for a growing number of people.

Wheels of Success Founder and CEO Susan Jacobs said as the pandemic hit, car donations to her organization dropped significantly.

Funds that would usually go toward fixing donated cars are now going to help qualifying adults with major car repairs to help them keep their cars, and get them back on the road.

“The average car price is $10,000 on a used car, so you can't go buy anything,” Jacobs said. “So if we can really fix it and get it to a condition that we know it will last for a while, then at least we know that person still has a car." 

For more information on how to qualify for assistance through Wheels of Success, or to learn more about donating cars to the group, visit

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