What Is the Optimum Commuting Distance for Driving to Work?


On a recent show you railed about a daily commute that was less than 5 miles one way and said that it would lead to a premature demise of the vehicle. At one of my previous jobs I drove 75 miles (highway) one way. So my question is balancing the costs (of gas, tires, etc) with what’s best for the car mechanically, what is the optimum distance for a one way daily commute to work? I guess we will need two answers one for a city commute, one for mostly highway commute?


For me, about 3,000 miles.


Who cares about the car.

The longevity in years is the same as a high mileage car vs low mileage one. The low mileage car will usually cost less to run since less fuel expended and less wear on items like the brakes and tires that wear by mileage not time.

So the optimal is walking distance or a bit longer requiring your vehicle, life is way too short to live so far from your job that you spend your life away from family etc, unless you enjoy that. Telecommutter going on 7 years here.


I commute from my bedroom to my office (about 20 feet) every morning that I’m in town. Two weeks ago I commuted about 1500 miles (each way) to a job (I hate to fly).

My wife commutes about 5 miles one way, not really enough so I like to take her car for longer errands occasionally.

I don’t know that there is an optimum commute.


Well, for me it’s a hair under 8 miles from my house to work, but then I spend all day driving anyways so it doesn’t really matter.


Just past walking distance. You will have a low-mileage car that can last forever.


The optimum commute is the shortest commute.

I have a 10 mile commute on all back roads with no traffic (bad traffic is getting stuck behind a farm tractor). I drive a $500 pickup to work, so I could care less if it?s bad for it. If it breaks down I?m never more than 5 miles from either work or the house:)


The lowest miles possible. It may hurt some parts like Exhaust…and you may have to use the Extreme oil-change interval as outlined in your owners manual…But it will still be a LOT cheaper then spending all that money on gas.


Whatever it takes to warm the car up and evaporate any water that may have condensed in the exhaust system. I’d guess about 15 to 20 minutes with no stops for coffee.


The optimal distance from your car’s point of view is the distance that allows the engine coolant to heat up to a point that opens the thermostat and circulates through the radiator. For my car this is about 8 miles (12 in winter).

Better yet - walk to work or take the bus.


That’s NOT going to be the cheapest…The extra gas you use will be a LOT MORE over the years then what an exhaust system will cost you.


For many years I drove 20 miles to work; good for the car but got crashed into once. Then for my next job I drove less than 10 minutes or 5 miles to work; good for me and a reduced chance of crashing the car. You can warm up the car later each day to cure whatever bad you did by short trips to work and back.


If you don’t like to drive, the optimum distance is zero. Telecommute instead. If you do like to drive, the optimum is about 20 miles on a winding road with negligible traffic and no cops.

Seriously, you want to drive long enough to get the car fully warmed up. In the winter, this can take 15 miles. Freely flowing highway is better than city stop and go.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, Mikey. I’m glad I have you to set me straight. :’(


Walking distance. I lived within walking distance for much of my working time and I much preferred that. I highly recommend it. Good for your car, good for the environment and just as important, good for you. Next best is cycling distance.

More than once I was the only one to show up for work during weather emergencies (blizzards) I ended up answering the phone all day. Generally I got a day off for it that I could use on a nice warm sunny day.


Sorry…did I hurt your feelings…I know math isn’t your strong suit.




I suppose that you are trying to figure out what type of driving is “optimal” for longevity of your vehicle. The easy answer is whatever warms the engine up to temp enough to get rid of moisture in the engine, warms the exhaust up enough to get rid of moisture, long enough to spin the grease around various components (tranny, CVs, etc), far enough to get the rust off your brakes . . . I’d say 15 miles each way, every other day . . . telecommute the off days to save on gas. Rocketman


42 if there are no hills.