You two are auto gods I just bought my first...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

You two are auto gods! I just bought my first new car in ten years and I'm hoping to make it last like my trusty '84 Honda Civic did. My new one is a Geo Prizm (I would have bought another Civic, but I got a better deal on the Prizm, and everything I read said the Prizm is just as reliable). I have a general question for you. On my daily commute, I can take either a direct city street that's stop-and-go, or I can take an indirect highway route. Both routes take half an hour. The direct route is 12 miles, and the highway route is 22. I'll probably put on miles faster taking the highway, but they are probably "gentler" miles, since I'm a pretty conservative driver. Since I'm interested in longevity rather than resale value, which do you think is better?

RAY: I think it's a toss up, Pat. There's no question that the highway miles are easier on your car. Starting, stopping, bouncing, and turning is what ruins a car. And there's more of that on city streets than on highways.

TOM: But since you'll be doing twice as many highway miles as city miles, I'd say it's a wash. According to my personal calculations, 100,000 highway miles is equivalent to 48,915.46 city miles...give or take 20,000 miles.

RAY: So let's weigh the other factors. For instance, if you're driving through a high-crime area of the city, you may be more likely to be the victim of a car jacking.

TOM: But on the other hand, if you drive through the city, you'll probably get better coffee and donuts on the way to work.

RAY: True. But in the city, you're more likely to get hit by a cabbie who runs a red light, or be involved in some other type of fender-bender.

TOM: Yeah. But on the highway, any accident you do have is likely to be much more serious.

RAY: Well, I guess it all comes down to the issue of scenery, then. If you drive on the highway, you'll probably see trees, grass, flowers, blue sky, and nature. Whereas in the city, you'll be looking at urban decay, old cars, broken glass, potholes, bums, graffiti, and garbage.

TOM: Exactly. That's why I always take the city route. It reminds me of home.

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