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> 40K miles a year, what to do?

I’ve taken a new job that is over a 100 miles away from the house. Due to other circumstances and the economy, I can’t sell the house to move at this time. I can stay at work on an occasional basis to drop the number of miles somewhat, but due to the wife’s travel schedule, I’m still stuck with the drive.



I have an '02 Volvo S60 with 100k miles. It’s had pretty regular service, but the question is what to do when it takes a dive, which is likely with the amount I’m driving.



What is car will have the best bang for the buck given that a car won’t last more than 3 years if I have to keep this up?

I did that once for a year. 103 miles each way.

Personally, I’d trade it now while it’s still in good shape and low miles for something with a much lower operating cost. There are a lot of options out there now. A Consumer Reports from the local bookstore will be a good reference.

Bad news-lots of miles…good news-these are the easiest miles on a car. No reason a car wouldn’t go 200k+ under these conditions with by-the-book maintenance. As for what to get, I’d get a small-to-mid size car, 4cyl, Civics get good mileage, many others to choose from. No need for a hybrid, and diesels (Jetta TDI) don’t do much for me, given the fuel cost and the extra$$ being demanded by dealers.

Your vehicle is the best bang for the buck. Assuming all highway or back roads those miles are beyond easy on a vehicle. Just buy longer wearing tires at replacement time and keep up on maintenance with an independent shop. 200k-300k is easy on this vehicle.

Driving that kind of mileage in a car like Civic(or Corolla) is abysmal. I used to do 30k/year in mine and wished I bought an Accord.

A little off topic. I am going to guess that you are now upside-down on you loan so selling it would be a problem. I also means you would loose a lot of money. However, I suggest you talk to the people who are administering your loan. It is best to do it before you have any late payments etc, but it can still work if you are already there.

Ask them for suggestions. Ask about a deal where you sell you home and buy a different one 100 miles away. Yea you are going to loose when you sell, but you will also gain a like amount when you buy from someone like you who is selling their home for a loss.

You might find this will work out well.

Keep driving and follow the recommended maintenance schedule. Driving 200 miles per day on the highway is easier on the car than driving 35 miles per day in stop-and-go traffic.

Nothing will last forever, but the Volvos that have 250,000 and 300,000 miles on them racked them up on highway trips like yours.

This is a situation where a new or slightly used Corolla or Civic may make plenty of sense, even if you don’t get a great discount. 35 mpg compared to your Volvo, and there is a good chance the purchase can pay for itself. Since I have taken Corollas and Prizms past 200K easily, you can get 5 or more years from this arrangement, with a minimum of maintenance costs.

Yes, my brother consistently gets 40 mpg on a similar commute in his Civic, even with an AT.

Actually, I’m not upside down on the loan. It’s just that the market is so slow, that I’m being significantly low-balled (think 100k below asking) that it’s not worth the effort of keeping it on the market.

I think a couple of factors will work in my favor in the next 12-18 months:

  1. A new administration in DC (it didn’t matter who really, just new), and let’s not argue politics either.
  2. I’m in an area where we are a winner in the BRAC (military realignment) program. When the new group starts moving in (soon), our market should recover relatively fast.

I get around 31-32 mpg on my volvo, so 35 mpg only saves ~$30 per month, and 40 mpg saves around $75 at current prices. It would take along time to “pay for itself”.

For giggles, I computed the savings for buying the new Tesla 4-door. It would pay for itself in 3 years, … if gas was $10 a gallon. At current prices it would take 14 years.

So in general, it appears that the best option is to make sure that my car gets all the TLC it needs, and I should be able to squeak some major mileage from it.

Thanks all.

For that many miles per day, I’d recommend something like the new Jetta TDI. I know one poster on here has a New Beetle TDI that he says gets 50~60 mpg on the highway. Either way, you’ll want a larger vehicle that’ll be comfortable and not some crampmobile

In the long run, you will be ahead if you drive it to 170,000 and give it away then. Trading it now will lose the most money.

This may not be a direct answer to your question, but do you have mass transit where you live? Could you shorten your commute by parking and riding? When I lived in Miami, I took a job in Boca Raton 50 miles away. I figured out they allowed passengers to take bicycles on the tri-rail. I put a bike rack on the trunk of my car, put the bicycle on the rack, drove to the tri-rail station, took the bicycle on the train, and rode the bicycle one mile from the tri-rail station to work. My commute increased from one hour to two, but there were advantages. I was able to read and relax both while waiting for the train and on the train. I spent the majority of my time reading the newspaper or a good book and I was also able to get some exercise from it, while reducing wear and tear on my car. Gas was cheap and the car was fuel efficient, so fuel was not a concern. Mass transit might be a viable alternative.

Now, if mass transit isn’t an alternative, there are some considerations:

  1. Your Volvo is not rated very well in dependability. For some reason safety and reliability seem to be inversely related. The safest cars are seldom the most reliable and the most reliable cars are seldom the safest cars.

  2. Keeping your current car is always the best choice financially. If it wasn’t, I would suggest trading in the car for something more reliable. I think you might not be in a good position right now to start making payments on a new car.

  3. The cost of being stranded and missing work or being late at a new job can be damaging. I am referring to both financial costs and opportunity costs.

So here is my advice. Check your maintenance schedule to see if it has one schedule for “severe” use and one for normal use. If your car has these two maintenance schedules, you should follow the “severe” schedule. If it doesn’t take a look at your maintenance schedule and consider shortening the intervals. For example, if your owner’s manual says to change the oil every 7,000 miles, consider changing the oil every 4,000 miles. If your owner’s manual says to change the transmission fluid and coolant every 60,000 miles, consider shortening that interval to 30,000 or 40,000 miles.

Next, get in the habit of routinely evaluating your car for problems. Check it over as though it is a used car you are thinking about buying. You should ask your trusted mechanic to do this at each oil change. Is there a belt or a pulley that squeaks until the car warms up? Get it fixed ASAP, even if you have to rent a car for the day to do it. Buy tires before you absolutely need them. If there is a worn suspension component or a leaky CV boot, get it fixed before it becomed a problem. You get the idea.

My suggestions will increase the operating expenses related to your car, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Sorry, I don’t get it. These are going to be the easiest miles this car sees, nothing ‘severe’ about them. I see no need to shorten fluid changes, long drives are very easy on fluids. His car won’t wear out, something will break. The rest of your advice is good.

I’ve been putting 40k+ miles on my SUV’s for the past 15 years. My current commute is about 60m. Much better then it was 3 years ago.

Personally I’d keep it until it dies. I’ve had no problem keeping my SUV’s well over 250k miles. Just keep up the maintenance and enjoy the drive.

In my experience, highway traffic is stop-and-go during rush hour. If that isn’t the case for the OP, you make a good point.

In my experience, highway traffic is stop-and-go during rush hour. If that isn’t the case for the OP, you make a good point.

For the OP’s stake…I hope that’s not true. commuting 100 stop and go miles could take 5 hours.

Yeah, that’s what I was assuming, 100 miles at 50+mph. If not, God help him!

Time for a Honda. I’ve had my 08 Element SC for about 8 months and have logged 16k just going back/forth to school. Flawless so far, and i’ve seen pictures of Elements with 300k, so I know it will be around for a while.

I assume with a 100 mile commute there will be some of each. I would expect some stop-and-go in congested areas, but at least some of that must be free-flowing traffic, even on the worst days. Getting out of the first town will probably be easier than getting into the destination town.

render_dude, I will light a candle for you.