Purchased used car 6 months ago - now have longer commute - trade in for fuel efficiency?

I recently purchased a 2009 pre-owned certified VW Jetta SE (5 cylinder automatic); I love the car, and there’s no problem with it other than that my commute has unexpectedly increased by close to 70 miles round trip (total is now 80 miles/day M-F) and I would like to trade it in for something much more fuel efficient - is it possible to do something like this without getting taken to the cleaner? I have owned the car for 6 months, and it remains in pristine condition the way that I purchased it.

Any thoughts on what the best way to accomplish this is?

Forgive me if I’ve left details out - I am more than happy to provide any details necessary and I am very appreciative of any advice that can be provided.


What is the gasoline mileage on your present 2009 VW Jetta?
Your commute must involve highway driving and it would take a really small car to beat what you should be getting on the Jetta. I would bet that if you calculate the gasoline mileage on your Jetta and compare it with a higher mileage car, it will take a long time to make up the cost of purchasing a newer economy vehicle. I would think that the Jetta would have the perfect balance between gasoline mileage, handling and comfort for the commute.
I faced a similar situation eleven years ago. I was offered a position at another institution and would have had a 45 mile round trip commute every day. I had a 2000 Ford Windstar at the time and would have used that vehicle for my commute. For me, a minivan is comfortable and the difference in mileage between the Windstar and a small car wasn’t worth trading the Windstar.

Well, trading it in for a brand new Yaris will save you about $10-12 a week at the pump, while a brand new Prius will save you $20-25 a week at the pump (here’s where I came up with that: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=25259&id=31734&id=31767 ). Take into consideration the loss you will undoubtedly take on your current car, possibly higher insurance premiums, and maybe even being upside down on your car loan if you finance, meaning probably being required to also purchase gap insurance, and you will probably actually lose money for the first few years by doing this. It’s probably not worth it unless you absolutely hate your Jetta. Trading in a recently purchased vehicle just to get better gas mileage is almost never a good idea.

Well as one who commuted 100 miles daily for over 30 years, comfort was more important than mileage. So drive a car that is comfortable and will stand up to the daily routine. So would I drive a Yaris or Prius that distance every day? No way. I drove Buicks and Oldsmobiles mostly.

At any rate if you are going to trade, do it right away before you start putting miles on it to maintain the best value. Once you start putting a lot of miles on it, you will be stuck with it for several hundred thousand miles or take a bath. So trade it or drive it, just make sure you will want to keep it around for a while. I’d have a new car and in two years had 70,000 on it and worth little in trade so ended up driving them multiple hundreds of thousands of miles.

You bought the car used, so the value really hasn’t changed that much due to depreication. You did pay the top dollar price if you bought it certified used from a dealer, so you will not be able to sell it privately at the same price you paid for it.

Document if the warranty is transferable to the new owner, and list it for sale on Craigslist. What would you buy to replace it? The Jetta should get pretty good mpg. What kind of mpg do you expect from the next car? Run the numbers between the mpg you are getting now and the mpg you desire and see if it makes economic sense to make a change.

For instance, if you are getting 30 mpg now, and want your next car to get 40 mpg. You’ll drive about 19K miles commuting per year. The 40 mpg car will use 475 gallons, and the 30 mpg car will use 633 to cover the miles. The 158 gallons of fuel saved is $553 with gas selling for $3.50 a gallon.

I agree with others that your potential cost savings may not be enough to warrant trading vehicles. Also consider the cost of sales tax and registering another vehicle. I’d stick with the Jetta for another year at least.

If you had a gas guzzler today, maybe. But going from 30 mpg now to whatever will be hard to pay off with just the gas savings. I’d keep the Jetta if I was happy with it otherwise.

The Jetta gets high enough gas mileage one the highway (EPA 30 MPG) that you won’t improve a lot with another car. I would keep the Jetta. Especially given that it is important to drive a car you like if you spend a little less than an hour in the car one way.

Unless you paid cash for the vehicle, you’re most likely going to be upside down on your loan.
Also, edmunds lists the Jetta SE for 20/29 for the automatic.
Look into the Skyactiv Mazda 3, it’s rated for 40mpg highway if you insist on trading the Jetta in already