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Longer highway or shorter city commute?

I have the option of a 40 mile commute that is nearly all highway driving or a 26 mile commute that is nearly all city driving. Which do you think would be preferable as far as wear and tear and/or resale value?

Tossup. Wear and tear will be better on the highway. But for resale, the almighty odometer rules supreme - adding an extra 24 miles per day for X years will lower the resale value of the car if you keep it long enough - once you cross that 100,000 mile line the value will drop because people still think that 100,000 miles is a lot, even though it’s really not.


I have a few recommendation:

-Choose the route you like better and ignore everything else.

-Use your GPS or smart phone to determine the best route for the current conditions.

-Sign up for accident text alerts and use that to decide which way is better on each given day.


Agree! I would take the highway route and relax more. Less wear and tear on me!

Thank you both for your comments. The highway drive is much nicer, and 15 minutes quicker, as well. It’s basically a loop going around the city versus going through the city. I do worry about the quicker mileage increase on my vehicle, though.

15 minutes quicker? X2 = 30 minutes a day? Done deal, I’d take the highway.

Plus, when you factor-in much better gas mileage at highway speeds, and less wear and tear on the brakes and the transmission, I think that taking the highway route is a win-win-win.

Highway route versus a city route with stop and go and a greater chance of someone turning in front of you. Me take highway.


Are you someone who sells your car within 2-4 years of buying it, or do you keep it until the wheels fall off like I do? If you’re in the latter group, drive how, where, and how far you want and don’t worry about the mileage increasing - as long as you maintain it properly it’ll last a long time and be pretty much worth its scrap value when you finally get rid of it no matter how many miles you’ve accumulated.

If you’re the former… Well, then you have to start worrying about mileage a little more if you’re concerned about resale value. An extra 28 miles a day for an entire work year 7,000 or so on the car per year (exact number depends on how much vacation you take, basically), which is significant.

But the question is, is the value drop from 28,000 extra miles at the end of 4 years really worth spending 260-ish days per year in an unpleasant commute that takes longer? Personally, it wouldn’t be worth it to me. I’m all for maximizing income, but you have to give some consideration to your happiness in the moment, and spending all that extra time in traffic dealing with idiot drivers would severely diminish mine, at least while I was in the car.

Now that I think about it more, I might find the city stop-and-go traffic more enjoyable than highway traffic if I’m on my motorcycle.

Also, there are some cities, such as Washington, DC, where the the highways don’t flow during rush hour, and become stop-and-go traffic themselves. In a location like that, the city traffic might be less stressful.

Shadowfax, I do plan on keeping this one for awhile, so I can see why the highway might be a better option in my case.

Whitey, they are actually both highway routes, but the route I’m calling the “City” route is straight through town and always stop and go (for at least half, if not more of the route). The route that I’m calling the “Highway” route is a partial loop that swings around town. It’s so far out that many people don’t take it, so it’s basically free-flowing the entire time.

In a town like Jacksonville, FL, I’d definitely take the loop, but in Washington, DC, I make better time cutting through town than taking the loop. I’d set my GPS app on “fastest route” (rather than “shortest”) and let it do the navigating.

Highway cars take a lot of paint/trim abuse on the front facing surfaces. I know, I have primarily a highway commute for many years. Those small stones and sand kicked up by vehicles in front of you do a number on my cars with innumerable pock marks to prove it. Most body guys spot the damage instantly. And you can’t really touch it up, there’s hundreds of little chips…just something to consider, the highway is no free lunch…

I know several people that live in Northern Virginia (suburban D.C.) and they drive to work in suburban Maryland through DC. That only works if you live near the bridges into D.C. from Virginia. My BIL lives in SE VA and drives up I-95 then gets on DC-295. And continues north. I don’t know why he likes D.C.-295. It is the most worthless, disgusting, hideous road in the universe. Good thing I’m holding back.

Anyway, even the locals like your route, @Whitey.

I have done and still do that although it is only 2 or 3 more miles of cruising verses stop and go, Well worth it. When I lived in Los Angeles in the mid 1970s I soon discovered that using boulevards with 2 or 3 stoplights was much faster than the interstate ‘parking lots’.

I had a 40 mile each way commute one time, 60 mph + freeway speeds all the way, and that was really easy on my vehicle. As long as I kept the routine maintenance up to date, all the fluid levels topped off, few car problems, other than the gasoline bill & maybe some increased tire wear.

My car is 7 years old with 44,000 miles. I bought it after I retired. I don’t worry about it.

Take the route that you enjoy the most. The difference is noise as far as the car is concerned.