Author Topic: If you drive for a living, is it worth upgrading a good car to a great car?  (Read 957 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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I have a chevy impala that I paid $2500 for earlier this year and it gets up to 18 mpg city / 29 mpg highway. Drives perfectly. I maintain it adequately and even have a spreadsheet on what I fix/replace and how much it cost (which hasn't been much since I just bought it). I am going to be driving often for my new job and was trying to figure out if it's worth selling for something like a Honda fit that gets Up to 28 mpg city / 35 mpg highway. I guess the bottom line question would be: if what I save on primarily gas would stack up to a surprising amount over the years of driving, would be greater than keeping my much less expensive vehicle that I already paid for and is treating me well. Thanks in advance.


  • Handlebar Stache
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If you are driving a personal vehicle for work, I assume you will be compensated for mileage? 

FYI, my manual transmission 2005 Toyota Matrix regularly gets 34 city/36 highway.  Just another option.  It's roomier than the Fit, too.  Well, at least for driver headspace.  DH sat in a Fit recently and his head was touching the top of the car; that doesn't happen in our Matrix.

You can calculate a price per mile assuming the same cost of fuel for your current car given what you paid, and then a price per mile for a newer option.  Compare them and see if it is worth the change.  I like to multiply the cost per mile by some large round number because it's easier for me to see the difference looking at $1,950 per 12K miles v. $2,160 per 12K miles rather than $0.1625 v $0.18 per mile.

Car Jack

  • Handlebar Stache
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A spread sheet is a great way to do comparisons.  You'll need to figure out the average mpg you're going to use.

I've done this as I drive for business and get a car allowance.  Some years, I drive just shy of 40k miles a year.

There are 3 things that matter cost wise:


Nothing else comes close.  Maintenance, tires, brakes are all mouse nuts by comparison.  In your case, with a $2k car, that's going to make numbers lean towards that car since depreciation is close to nothing.

Also, a Honda Fit should get way more than 36 mpg highway.  We have a Subaru Legacy that does better than that on the highway.  Of course, the driver matters.  I'll get 38 mpg on the highway and my wife barely hits 28.  She learned the piano as a kid and treats the gas pedal just like a piano pedal.  Either off or on.


  • Stubble
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My partner has a Fit, and she very reliably gets between 40 and 50mpg. You can do a bit better though, depending on how new you're looking to go. Some of the newer hybrids reliably deliver 50+; the Ioniq is rated for 59 highway. There are several PHEV options which have extremely low cost per mile until the battery runs out. The original Honda Insight is an easy 65-80mpg (my last 800 mile tank averaged 78mpg driving at 65), but it's a quirky car and probably not one to own if you don't like tinkering with your car.


  • Handlebar Stache
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If by GREAT, you mean costs about 5k and gets 50 MPG, then YES!!!!! 

Consider the mileage income your new side hustle/second job. 

My wife does this and it's a great little side income for our family.  Her mileage pays for all of her and my transportation costs each year.