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Estimating maintenance cost of highway driving?

I’ve been using my car for work recently, and I probably need to stop doing it because the company pays for my gas but they are not paying for my mileage. Most of the mileage is driving to other towns. My schedule is always different, but I was starting to wonder if it’s going to be worth the cost recently because I had to drive 100 miles each way to one location, and I’ve had to do this 4 days out of the week.

I don’t really mind driving, and the company is supposed to provide me with a car. The problem is that some of the vehicles they said I could use were in such bad condition that I felt it was a safety concern to take those vehicles out on the road. For example, there is a van that the seatbelts did not lock in, so I stopped using that vehicle.

So they told me I can use an Explorer recently. I think it is a 2001. My girlfriend also works for the company and she went to pick it up from the shop and told me not to drive it. From what she described it sounded like there is air in the brake lines or something. Also, maybe not as big of a deal, but the seat is worn out or something, it was not very comfortable, so I don’t know what will happen if I try to sit in it for 2 hours or more at a time.

I can try to find another job, but until then I’m wondering if I can estimate the highway mileage cost. I don’t have to use my car, but if I refuse to use the company vehicle they’re probably going to cut my hours.

The IRS allows you to use 54.5 cents a mile for use of your car on company business. That is the standard deduction. If you drive a small car and get good mileage, your cost will be lower and if you drive Ford F350, your cost will be higher. This number includes fuel, wear and tear and insurance. If you are reimbursed for fuel, you’d have to take that money off of the total you claim to the IRS (I think - not a tax expert) and you’d have to file long form taxes to claim it.

However, You are in a bit of a pickle in any event. You are using your personal car for business. If your insurance doesn’t know this, they may deny a claim if you have an accident while travelling on business. Not a good situation for you in any event.


Curious, they reimburse you for your gas? Most companies pay a set rate per mile. You might be coming out ahead depending on the MPG you are getting.
Beyond that you are getting into an area where we really can not help you. Your own personal finances, workplace safety, and alternate employment opportunities.

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Mustangman is right. The answer is simple., For 2019, the IRS will let you deduct $.58 per mile for a vehicle used for business. You deduct this from your taxable earnings. If your company compensates you, you cannot deduct the mileage. Perhaps you could suggest to your company that they match the government rate? If they won’t you may be better off just deducting it from your earnings if you have an income tax payment at the end of your accounting year. If you work at a bigger company they may have other options for you, but it sounds like they do not. Some of the companies I worked for used Runzheimer to manage this issue for the employees. Want a funny story? I knew an on-the road salesperson in the Arizona area who complained that his company car was crap (it was). They promised him a new one and told him the make and model. He was psyched. When it was delivered it was a used pink Mary K car. He drove it and never complained. It was a pink Monte Carlo.

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Somehow those old junkers continue to get the job done otherwise they would have replaced them. Wear sunglasses and a large hat so no one will recognize you and drive what they offer unless it truly is dangerous.

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I’m not embarrassed to drive old cars. I used to drive a '99 Ranger and it never looked good (by the time I owned it anyway). I don’t want to get stranded in the middle of nowhere, but I guess that can happen with any car. I do question the maintenance put into these vehicles, however, because one of the other employees said that the he almost got in an accident because the vehicle did not stop correctly after brake repairs.

Well, they issue gas cards. Although I’m not entirely sure how the system is supposed to work, because some of the cars have a gas card tied to that vehicle, but I guess they give me a card because I may drive different vehicles (including my own). I have been estimating my actual gas costs for the work trips.

If you do not have written permission to use your own vehicle and your insurance is not notified of the practice then your are setting yourself up for a very large lawsuit in you have an accident.


Maybe I can deduct the estimated mileage (I guess I use $.58 minus the fuel cost) when I file my taxes. Or I can just try to use the work vehicles and see how it goes.

That’s a good point about the insurance. I forgot about that.

I general, I would agree, but please help me find the threshold here.
If I used personal car and drove 100% of its mileage for business, I’m 100% with you.

What about 50%? I would still agree it is a business use.
10% ?
1% ?

What if I had to drop off our partner to the airport and it constitutes 0.001% usage?

It’s interesting if certain rules/conventions exist here

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The current reimbursement rate for State of Florida employees is $0.445/mile, and it has been that rate as long as I can remember, even when gasoline was $4/gallon. The slightly higher IRS rate of $0.58/mile sounds reasonable to me, but I’d be willing to go as low as $0.445 considering how cheap fuel is right now.

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I’d try using the Explorer, have the employer fix it to be a reasonable highway vehicle (assuming they’re paying all expenses).

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I’d be diligently looking for another job. You are obviously not valued by your employer.

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I’m glad you brought that up because sometimes my gf likes to go with me and make it a road trip. So then it’s not strictly business?

I’ve had that feeling before. And when they get newer vehicles in they go to the people that are part of a family first. lol

A lot of folks use the IRS data for that. The IRS allows certain cents/mile as an automobile operating expense, intended to include everything needed to keep the car on the road. Hey, in this case the IRS may be your friend!

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Look up the IRS rules on line for deducting expenses and see if you can deduct gas costs from the deduction for business use. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, consider calling the IRS and asking about it.

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With the high limit before deductions make a difference, even if the driving expense qualifies I’d rather have the employer pay everything for the Explorer.

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I think the long and short of it is that you are losing 20-30 cents a mile if all they are paying is for gas. I used to get somewhere around 40 cents and for me it was a profit center because I did my own work mostly and had a fully depreciated car. I don’t see any reason you can’t deduct the standard mileage rate minus what you have been reimbursed. You really can do anything you want but then need to explain it in an audit. Of course the other method is to keep track of your costs, figure depreciation, etc. and deduct the direct costs, but that’s a pain. I never had any problem with State Farm for business. All they cared about was total miles driven. Business or pleasure, the risk is the same.

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