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Anyone know how to calculate wear & tear on car for travel?

  1. Jun 4, 2017 #1
    I'm currently working part-time as a secret shopper this summer and have come across these jobs where you have to drive relatively far. The distance can be anywhere from 25 to 60 miles (on average, but possibly more if you want certain jobs).

    Pay is negotiable. This is what makes it worthwhile for me. And I'm wondering how one goes about calculating the value of wear and tear on your car if you travel?

    Obviously, travel expenses should factor in gas and time spent driving. But it's the more nebulous value of wear and tear (and mileage accrued too??) that I'm wondering about. What do you have to take into account and how would you do the math?

    For the purposes of a very simple situation, let's say I need to travel 40 miles for a job(s) somewhere. My car gets roughly 40 miles per gallon (35 for city and 45 for freeway). And let's say it takes me exactly one hour to get there.

    Based on that, I can obviously come up with travel pay for the hour drive being at least:

    cost of 1 gallon of gas = $2.25 (where I live)
    1 hour of labor (let's use $7.50 minimum wage to make it super easy here)
    eta: Doh! Didn't even realize min. wage in USA is $7.25. Oh well, let's keep this anyways.

    So far, that's $9.75. Let's round it up to $10.00 to make it easy. :biggrin: For a round-trip drive, I would value it at $20.00 minimum so far.

    But that $20.00 does not factor in wear and tear on my car, as the more I drive, the more my tires wear down, the quicker I'll need an oil change, the faster various parts (break pads, etc.) where out, etc. But there are so many variables to consider with wear and tear. What should I take into account and how might I value it for that 1 hour one-way/2 hour round-trip drive?

    Any ideas? Thanks for your feedback. :-p
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 4, 2017 #1

    Dr Transport

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    US govt reimbursement rates for using a privately owned vehicle is about $0.54/mile (they include wear and tear on a vehicle).
  4. jcsd
  5. Jun 4, 2017 #2


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  6. Jun 4, 2017 #3


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    Yes, when I used to drive my car to nearby conferences, that's what my employer (college) reimbursed me, after, or rather before, inflation adjustment.
  7. Jun 5, 2017 #4
    Interesting - thanks! I wasn't aware this metric existed. To clarify, this figure is for gas + wear and tear only? I'm assuming it's not an attempt to reimburse for labor/time (the driving itself and opportunity cost), right?

    If so, is this for any vehicle type (from luxury cars to economy cars)? Or, would there be a different figure for different types of vehicles? I'm assuming here that more expensive vehicles have much higher maintenance costs as mileage increases.
  8. Jun 5, 2017 #5


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    There is no distinction as to type of vehicle. That would be a mess that the government, rightly I think, doesn't want to get into.
  9. Jun 5, 2017 #6


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    Right: time spent driving should be billed at your normal hourly rate.
  10. Jun 5, 2017 #7

    Dr Transport

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    gas and wear & tear only, no distinction for gas guzzler versus gas sipper. your time is covered under your salary/hourly wages if your employer pays for you to travel (while in industry, we consistently traveled on our own time, the only thing covered was expenses, i.e. meals and drinks).
  11. Jun 5, 2017 #8
    That makes sense. Thanks, Russ.
  12. Jun 5, 2017 #9
    Right! I figure it'd be a headache doing regional gas price differences too - esp. if one is traveling between states (possible in my situation for some audit jobs).

    On the other hand, as I think about a real life scenario using the $.54/mile rate, it seems quite high does it not?

    For example, a retail audit job available to me right this moment is 4.8 miles away. If I round up to 5 miles for ease of calculation, then the round-trip drive would be 10 miles. At a $.54 gas + wear and tear reimbursement rate, I would be owed $5.40. Solely based in feel/intuition, that seems a bit high. Or, am I missing something? Again, my car gets 40 miles per gallon ($2.25 gas per gallon here locally) and the round-trip would would use up less than 1 gallon for me - essentially 1/4th of a gallon. Is wear and tear for 10 miles really worth that much?

    Apologies if I'm totally missing something guys. Could be a brain "fart" moment. But putting that figure into practice seems a bit high to me, no?
  13. Jun 5, 2017 #10
    On quick clarification of my question/comments above:

    My secret shopper job would not entail driving as part of the job (as in delivering packages or even, say, a taxi/uber driver). I hope that I didn't give that impression. Rather, there was driving involved to GET TO the location of the job. For a quick example, there are jobs that involve audits of retail stores, restaurants, gas stations, pharmaceutical companies (you name it), where you may perform a revealed or undercover (depending on the job type) audit of services/products (a typical example for a retail audit might be to check all the prices for accuracy at some big box store or checking menu board prices for a restaurant audit).

    The audit itself would be my actual job and what I'd be paid for (at various rates, depending on the job/client).

    However, many locations are far from me and secret shopper companies would pay for travel expenses, which are negotiable. That's what I meant when I said I would need to travel - not that the job itself was to drive (again, such as a delivery driver or taxi driver).

    I'm not sure if that alters the valuation at all, but just wanted to put that out there for clarification purposes.
  14. Jun 5, 2017 #11


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    When I Googled for "average cost of owing a car", I got a boxed entry ("featured snippet" in Google-speak) from nerdwallet.com that includes:
    That works out to $0.58 per mile. "All costs" probably includes insurance, interest on an auto loan, etc., although I didn't investigate further. What do you pay for auto insurance per year?
  15. Jun 5, 2017 #12
    Ha! ...I love boxed entries many times. They seem to identify more often than not what I am thinking of/searching for. :biggrin:

    Right now, I pay $2952 (exact figure) for my auto insurance for the year.

    That's an interesting figure if it includes all these factors. I clarified some things about my question above, so I'm not sure if this $.54 rate would apply to my situation.

    My car is paid off (given to me by parents back in high school - I'm in college at the moment). But, putting that aside, I'm working part-time currently (although, I obviously need a vehicle to get to/from job assignments) and I drive different distances for various job assignments.

    For example, I performed three short jobs last Friday that took roughly 30 miles round-trip. Since they were local assignments, I did not ask for travel pay, as it's typically harder to negotiate for those types of situations and already built into the hourly wage per assignment (its complicated here and this is only partially true, but I won't go off too much on an unnecessary tangent - the main thing is that it's usually harder to ask for travel pay for local jobs). But, when there are more remote assignments and/or harder to fill jobs (each region of the U.S. has different numbers of workers, so there is a supply and demand function going on here), then travel pay comes more into play (along with bonus money too, which I won't get into...I'm mostly concerned with valuing travel costs and wear and tear).

    So, for a certain subset of jobs out of a larger set, there will be an opportunity for me to negotiate travel play. This happens frequently enough for me to want to do the math (making sure I don't get ripped off!!).

    I'm not sure if any of those factors matter or affect the IRS figure given, but just thought I'd throw that out there. As of the moment, there is a job assignment in the next state over from me that is exactly 47 miles from where I live (94 miles round-trip). From experience and also the distance, I know I could ask for travel pay for that job should I desire to do it and am granted the assignment.
  16. Jun 6, 2017 #13
    The govt, allowable tax rate, is more than gas, and oil. It includes factors for total cost of ownership. Depreciated value, insurance, etc.

    For example, look how much. Lease will charge you for going over the built in mileage, this is pretty close to how much mileage alone depreciates the value of a vehicle.

    If you have a car with low operating costs, and that holds value well this number works out ok, somthing like a large SUV or PU truck not so good.

    You can go to Kellys Blue Book and put in your vehicle type, and get a market value, then add somthing like 10k miles and get the value, use the difference as part of your figures.

    Will you be paying more for your insurance if you use it like this or if you drive more than 12k miles?

    In some cases, esp as a secret shopper, working weekends? Some rental cos have crazy cheap rates for Friday to Monday rentals, so it may make more sense to rent.
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