My fiancée has a 1994 Toyota Corolla that is on its last legs (or tires, or whatever) with almost 330,000 miles on it. We're planning to get rid of it when it either becomes disabled or we take it in for regular service and they find something urgent that would cost more to fix than the value of the car. I have a 2006 Camry that is in great shape with a bit under 185,000 miles on it that we also hope to keep until one of the two aforementioned conditions befalls it.

One of us drives 7 miles each way to work, mostly on city streets and at stoplights but with some brief time at highway speeds (60+ mph). The other drives 20 miles each way but spends 80% or more of the time at 60+ mph.

We live in the Puget Sound region, but not too close to saltwater. That means wet but not too cold in the spring, winter, and fall; and mostly dry and mild to warm in the summer.

To maximize the longevity of each vehicle, which route should we use each one on (or should we alternate)?

  • It sounds to me like we're settling an argument over who's harder on the car >:) – raydowe Oct 31 '17 at 12:38
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    Personally I would alternate them, this is going to attract a lot of opinion answers... – Solar Mike Oct 31 '17 at 12:48
  • both automatics? – agentp Oct 31 '17 at 19:36
  • Yes, they both are. – user33347 Oct 31 '17 at 20:24

There is no great answer to this question. This is because you're wondering about the short-term and this is more of a long-term type answer. Even the long-term type answer depends on the area you live in.

For cold or humid environments highway is better. During the minimum 40 minute drive, the car can achieve the full operating temperature for some time. This allows the car to evaporate any moisture or condensation that has accumulated in the oil or exhaust overnight.

The short trip in the same kind of environment does not get the opportunity to do so. The excess moisture can deteriorate the oil and rot the exhaust from the inside out.

In a very dry environment, the same factors don't apply.

Again these are long-term effects and play little role in the short-term.

My suggestion would be the person that drives the least takes the least reliable car. This way if the car does fail they are much closer to home.

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  • I added some info about the climate, but I don't think it'll change your answer. – user33347 Oct 31 '17 at 19:04

Driving a car within the bounds of reason won't affect it's lifespan in any significant way. Neglecting maintenance will reduce it's lifespan. More of the car's lifespan is affected by the weather outside, as that promotes rust and corrosion, the ultimate killer of individual car parts.

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  • I added some info about the climate, but I don't think it'll change your answer. – user33347 Oct 31 '17 at 19:05