Author Topic: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car  (Read 1168 times)

Ani

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 2
I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« on: July 19, 2018, 02:55:44 PM »
The husband is in the military and his base is about 60 miles from the nearest city. I am an accountant and could not find work in the small town we currently live in, so I commute to the nearest city. The husband commutes about 20 miles round trip to get to work while I commute 80 miles round trip (we live off-base). I own a 2014 Ford Focus with 88,000 miles. I owe about $9,000 on it. Unfortunately, it is worth $5,000-$7,000 according to Kelly Blue Book. I get about 35 MPG. 80% of my daily drive is on a highway. I spend about $160 a month on gas just for work ($8/day). I am trying to reduce our expenses and live a more MMM lifestyle. My question to the fellow MMM community: should I sell this car and get a more fuel efficient vehicle like a Prius? The Ford is not worth the amount I owe on it so I am very hesitant to part with it because of the cash I'll have to put in to pay it off. I do have about $15,000 cash so I can afford to buy a used Prius in cash. I do not have children, so I don't care about the interior size of a vehicle or any fancy accessories. I just need the vehicle to get me to and from work. The husband has 2 years left in his contract, so I expect I will be making this drive for at least two more years. I actively look for job openings closer to my home at least twice a month but so far no luck.
Please provide advice on what you would do in such a situation.
In case it matters... we live in Southeast GA and I commute to Florida.

sokoloff

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1193
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2018, 03:06:34 PM »
Ballpark, the Prius might save you $50 a month. That doesn't cover much in the ways of transaction fees (sales tax, etc) and hassles.

If the Focus works for you, I wouldn't be in a hurry to change rides.

Debts_of_Despair

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 534
  • Location: NY
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2018, 03:19:18 PM »
You already have a very reasonable car in terms of fuel efficiency.  If your commute is mostly highway driving, you aren't going to see a huge improvement with a Prius.  Keep the Focus.

YttriumNitrate

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 491
  • Location: Northwest Indiana
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2018, 03:29:18 PM »
Not saying you should get a new car, but I can tell you that at one point I had a 100+ mile (round trip) daily commute that was almost all highway. When it was time to get a new car, I considered a Prius, but ended up going with a Mitsubishi Mirage. The Toyota is obviously a nicer car, but just comparing MPGs and MSRP the Mirage has the same highway fuel economy as the Prius C, and is only 10 MPG less than the standard Prius. Assuming the $3.00 per gallon gas and a $10,000 difference in MSRP, the break even point for driving a Prius vs a Mirage is three quarters of a million miles.

Still assuming $3 a gallon gas, getting a Prius will only save you bit less than 3 cents a mile.

Calvawt

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 333
  • Location: Central CA
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2018, 05:28:34 PM »
I agree, it seems like a lot of transactional costs to save $50 or so a month.  Just drive the current one into the ground and reduce your insurance to liability only (after you write a check to pay it all off of course).

Tester

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 183
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2018, 10:28:53 PM »
You have a car.....
So your need is gone.
The Prius won't get you better mileage on the highway (not enough to justify changing you car).
I just hope your car does not have the powershift problems - I had the clutch replaced after 20k miles on my 2015 Focus...

middo

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 530
  • Location: Country Western Australia
  • Learning.
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2018, 10:50:18 PM »
The prius is a great car for stop-start traffic, but has no real advantage over any other well designed internal combustion car on a longer highway commute.  Your only real way of achieving significant fuel savings is to look at vehicles that get great highway economy, or go for a plug-in type electric vehicle.  But the electric vehicle will cost a lot more up front.

Maybe try a motorbike?  We used one when highway commuting for about 5 years.  Really cheap, and easy to service ourselves.  (And fun)

Ecky

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 170
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2018, 05:37:02 AM »
There are some things you can do to save gas in your current car which don't cost anything.

1) Check your tire pressure. Low tire pressure not only wastes fuel, but it also compromises safety. Run recommended pressures (as per your door placard) at the very least. Don't wait for the TPMS to tell you they're very low.

Tires with higher pressure run cooler and wear more slowly because they turn less of your forward motion into heat. Hydroplaning risk is reduced at slightly elevated tire pressure too. As far as fuel savings, the sky is the limit with pressure, but for passenger car tires I would not go above 45 PSI as you get diminishing returns and ride quality suffers. I'm aware of some people who run 60, 80 or even 120psi daily, but once you start getting that high you have an increased risk of blowouts if you hit a pothole or road debris. 

2) I know your commute is already very long, but slowing down just 5mph can save a pretty significant amount of fuel. My car delivers 100mpg at 50mph, 65mpg at 70mph, and 50mpg at 80mph. So, I slow down whenever I can, and always obey the speed limits.

3) If you're feeling very adventurous and live somewhere with cold winters, consider partially blocking the car's grille for the coldest months - though definitely keep an eye on temperatures until you know just how far you can safely block it. Cold engines burn more fuel and wear out more quickly. A lot of trucks do this in winter because it helps with warmup time, and some vehicles never get to full temperature if you're cranking the heat on a cold enough day. For many years Volvo even sold factory grille blocks as options for most of their cars, and more recently, many manufacturers have incorporated automatic shutters which close off airflow to help the engine warm up.



I personally find my car's sweet spot to be around 66% blocked in the summer, and when temperatures outside drop below ~20F, I can block my grille 100% and it still never climbs above normal running temperatures.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2018, 05:39:26 AM by Ecky »

Ani

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2018, 06:41:26 AM »
Thanks everyone. I will keep my Focus and run it to the ground. I do like the idea of a motorbike. Maybe I'll try that in the future.

RWD

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2903
  • Location: Mississippi
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2018, 08:28:38 AM »
Tires with higher pressure run cooler and wear more slowly because they turn less of your forward motion into heat. Hydroplaning risk is reduced at slightly elevated tire pressure too. As far as fuel savings, the sky is the limit with pressure, but for passenger car tires I would not go above 45 PSI as you get diminishing returns and ride quality suffers. I'm aware of some people who run 60, 80 or even 120psi daily, but once you start getting that high you have an increased risk of blowouts if you hit a pothole or road debris. 

Running higher than recommended pressures also accelerates wear on the tires. Replacing the tires more often will likely offset any fuel savings. It also decreases your car's safety by affecting the handling and braking. Obviously you shouldn't run lower than recommended pressures either, for the same reasons.

Ecky

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 170
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2018, 08:33:27 AM »
Tires with higher pressure run cooler and wear more slowly because they turn less of your forward motion into heat. Hydroplaning risk is reduced at slightly elevated tire pressure too. As far as fuel savings, the sky is the limit with pressure, but for passenger car tires I would not go above 45 PSI as you get diminishing returns and ride quality suffers. I'm aware of some people who run 60, 80 or even 120psi daily, but once you start getting that high you have an increased risk of blowouts if you hit a pothole or road debris. 

Running higher than recommended pressures also accelerates wear on the tires. Replacing the tires more often will likely offset any fuel savings. It also decreases your car's safety by affecting the handling and braking. Obviously you shouldn't run lower than recommended pressures either, for the same reasons.

There are several publications which have shown running 5-10psi over the placard can result in decreased wear, depending on the vehicle. Generally dry grip is reduced slightly but wet grip improves and hydroplaning speed goes up (a good thing). If you're curious I can see if I can dig up the sources.

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3281
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2018, 08:37:24 AM »
More practically - see if you can work from home at all. Even 1 day a week would be huge with that commute.

rubybeth

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1389
  • Location: Midwest
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2018, 08:44:01 AM »
Just keep the Focus. The time to reassess the math on this would be if a huge repair bill is owed, or you get into an accident. For now, you have a car, just keep paying it off (ideally early), and drive it until it dies.

AnswerIs42

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 150
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2018, 08:58:25 AM »
Running higher than recommended pressures also accelerates wear on the tires. Replacing the tires more often will likely offset any fuel savings. It also decreases your car's safety by affecting the handling and braking. Obviously you shouldn't run lower than recommended pressures either, for the same reasons.

There are several publications which have shown running 5-10psi over the placard can result in decreased wear, depending on the vehicle. Generally dry grip is reduced slightly but wet grip improves and hydroplaning speed goes up (a good thing). If you're curious I can see if I can dig up the sources.

+1 - I run mine at 50PSI, and I got 70,000 miles out of a pair of them, and some of that was when they were on the driving wheels. The whole thing about them wearing on the middle if overinflated is a myth for modern tyres.

Ecky

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 170
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2018, 09:24:04 AM »
Regarding tire pressure, there are two factors that go into how they were, to my knowledge.

1) Belted radials do not respond to inflation pressure in the same way that older bias ply tires did.

2) Tire pressure affects a variety of factors, and manufacturers will choose inflation pressure based on criteria that are not solely based on average real-world tire wear.

Generally speaking, even a tire which is inflated such that when rolling in a straight line the contact patch is perfectly even across the tread, turning will cause scrub at the edges. YMMV.

My personal anecdote, my last set of tires was warrantied for 40,000 miles and I got 75,000 out of them. When I changed them, wear was remarkably even. My door placard recommends 38PSI, and I ran between 44 and 48 PSI in them - max sidewall being 50 PSI.

Mythbusters did a test in which they ran just 5 PSI over in their tires. Their math worked out to saving approximately $77 per year in fuel in their test vehicle, and at that rate the tires should last anywhere between 3 and 6 years (depending on the tire used).

I'm not going to pretend to know how all vehicles will respond to slightly elevated pressure, but it's a fact that most people don't check frequently and drive around on under-inflated tires, and that's objectively more dangerous than going slightly over. So, I recommend friends and family put a couple of PSI extra in their tires.

acroy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1702
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Dallas TX
    • SWAMI
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2018, 09:32:47 AM »
sounds like a perfect situation for a used Nissan Leaf, though you are on the edge of the earlier models range. If it works, would shave the commuting cost by 50% or more. However the transaction costs etc may make it not worth it. I'd suggest run the numbers (loss on current car, transaction costs, insurance changes etc) and make a rational decision
good luck!

sokoloff

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1193
Re: I drive 80 miles for work every day, and need a car
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2018, 11:28:33 AM »
I have a '15 LEAF. I don't think I would count on reliably making an 80 mile RT without chargers at both ends. 70 miles is a more comfortable one-way distance, and even that might be a small stretch in cold weather on a 5 year old battery.