• Stick with safe, reliable and fuel-efficient vehicles
  • Stay away from complex high tech features
  • Keep your commute stress-free and enjoyable
It’s a dream you’ve had more than a few times. And, when the weather is perfect, it’s all you can think about during your commute.

On those perfect sunny days during your commute home, you just wish you could be driving in a sweet convertible sports car with the top down, your fav tunes blaring and the wind in your hair.

How fucking awesome would that be, right?

It’d be the perfect way to disconnect from work and have fun on your way home from a long day at the office. It’ll turn your stressful commute into relaxing me-time in an instant.

But, you’re not Mr. Moneybags and you can’t afford to buy a drool-worthy convertible sports car just for your commuting duties. You’ve got other more important priorities and needs in your life.

The reality is that you’ve got a modest car. It’s not great. It’s not so new anymore and things are starting to show their age.

There are more squeaks and rattles coming from more places than before. It probably has its fair share of dings, dents and other battle scars from daily use. And, the check engine light probably comes on every now and then.

It’s only a matter of time, maybe even just a few months away, before you’ll need to get rid of your current jalopy and replace it with a newer one.

And when that time comes, you’ve gotta be sure to find the right replacement car.

How To Know When It’s Time To Get Another Car

When you’re car is totaled from an accident or when the engine or transmission finally gives in and dies, you’ve gotta replace it with another. That’s obvious.

What’s not so obvious is when the car is still working but the clock is ticking. And you know it. What you don’t know is how long you can or should keep driving the car.

It’s inevitable that older cars will need more monthly maintenance for trouble-free commuting. It’s all due to the normal wear and tear from usage. And, the older the car, the more you’ll have to spend to keep it running.

If your car is five years old or less and is reliable, you shouldn’t be spending much on maintenance and repairs. It’ll be about $500 to $1,000 per year depending on how much you drive. In this stage, you’re still in the safe “green” zone.

If your car is between five and ten years old, annual maintenance costs are about $1,000 to $2,000 or so for the average car. This is the “yellow” zone where you need to keep an eye on things.

And if your highway steed is more than a decade old and has more than 100k miles, then costs can average more than $2,000 per year easily. This is the “red” zone where major components start to fail and big repair costs come into play.

The risk is in the yellow and red zones. It could be that one day where you can’t be late for work and that’s exactly the day that the car decides to konk out on you. Then, your asshole boss is on your case about it all week.

If your car is in the yellow or red zones and maintenance and repair costs are exceeding those average annual figures or just plain bankrupting you, it’s time to start looking for a replacement. 

5 Must-Haves For The Best Commuter Car

If you were a millionaire, you can buy any car you want. Commute in a super-exotic Lambo? Sure, why not.

However, let’s be real. We’re all just thousandaires trying to get by with meager to modest salaries that only barely cover all of life’s expenses. And there’s one unavoidable expense that most of us have to deal with - owning and maintaining a car to get to and from work.

There are a ton of models to choose from and even if you’re able to narrow things down to a few choices, you get mired in analysis paralysis.

This is totally normal because buying a car is the second most expensive thing most people will ever buy, besides a home. So, you gotta be smart about it.

And one way to make sure that you’re only considering ideal cars is to follow these five simple rules. 

1) Rock Solid Safety

With all that time you spend in your car for the commute to and from the office, you are putting yourself in daily traffic chaos. And when there are more people on the road, it increases the odds that some asshole driver or inattentive idiot will run into you.

The car is your safety cage. It’s designed to protect you in the event of a crash or accident. All cars have to meet minimum federal standards for safety but those standards were developed ages ago and haven’t been updated. It’s a low bar that most all cars score well on.

The newer more stringent safety standards are from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or IIHS for short. These are much tougher crash tests. Use the IIHS ratings for a much better assessment of car crash safety.

You want to stick with the ones that have received the “Top Safety Pick” award. This will ensure that you’re getting a vehicle with rock solid safety.

2) Dead Nuts Reliability

If you’ve ever been stranded on the road because your car broke down, it sucks. Really sucks. Not only does it fuck up your day big time, but it also screws up your entire week until the car is repaired. It’s such a huge hassle and annoyance.

The last thing you need is for your bitchy boss to berate you about not getting to work on time. It’s also frustrating for your personal life too - like not being able to pick up your kids, go grocery shopping or get to that event.

Your car has to be as reliable as a hammer - at least as much as possible. No car is 100% reliable all the time. As a car gets older with more miles, the normal wear and tear will require more maintenance and repairs. This is especially true if you have a long-distance commute.

Refer to Consumer Reports and their reliability data to find the most reliable vehicles within your budget. They get this information from a large number of owners who provide their reliability experience with that car every year. These guys were “crowd sourcing” data way before the term became a trendy tech thing.

3) Sippy Fuel Efficiency 

If there’s one weekly expense that everybody hates, it’s having to buy gas, especially when fuel prices are stupid high. Who the hell wants to drop Benjamins on filling up their car?

This is why some of us tend to drive on an empty tank which is really bad for the car. Don’t do that and instead, you gotta get a car that’s sippy on gas.

In most cases, fuel-efficient cars aren’t quick. That’s the tradeoff. Fast cars burn more fuel. Slower cars use less fuel. So, focus on the cars that get you high MPGs. Or, maybe even an EV if that kind of vehicle fits your lifestyle.

Use the official US government website for fuel economy information here. Or another alternative site is Fuelly which kind of does the same thing.

You don’t need a fast car for your commute. Most of the time, you’re slogging through bumper-to-bumper and stop-n-go traffic. That douche in a high horsepower sports car isn’t going any faster than you in heavy traffic, plus you’ll be saving money on gas for the commute.

If you really want to maximize savings, think about carpooling too.

4) Apple CarPlay & Android Auto

With all that time you spend in your car, you need to keep calm and commute on by enjoying the solitude with some red light meditations or alternatively, listening to your fav tunes.

Yes, there’s always the good ol’ standby of FM radio. But damn, these radio stations go heavy on the commercials during rush hours. This totally makes sense because that’s when a ton of people are listening and that’s where the advertising revenue is for the stations. It just seems like every 3-minute song comes with a 5-minute commercial advertisement. Ugh.

So, to give yourself another entertainment option, you can listen to podcasts on your commute or other music sources like Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, YouTube Music, etc.

To make it easy to use your smartphone in the car, try to get a car with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This will turn the in-dash screen into an extension of what’s on your phone so that it’s easy to listen to music, podcasts and use navigation.

5) Simplicity Over Complexity

New cars with all the whiz-bang technology are always attractive and it's what helps to sell cars. We all get lured by the newest features and technologies like adjustable air-ride suspensions, automatically opening tailgates, massaging seats, etc.

What most people don’t think about is the long-term aspect of these technologies. Complex technologies always have more problems over the long run. And, in nearly all cases, when (not if) these complex things break down, it costs an arm and a leg to get it fixed - like thousands of dollars.

Complex features use a lot of expensive hardware that is often intricately tied to other sub systems. So, when it fails, it negatively impacts other systems too. It’ll be one thing after another and you’ll lose your shit dealing with all of the issues.

The best thing to do is to keep things as simple as possible. Simple systems have fewer issues. This doesn’t mean that you need to buy a car with manual hand-cranking windows. Just avoid the big-ticket fancy-ass tech and you’ll be better off.

Buy Smart & Commute Stress-Free

Unless you live in a major city with great mass transit, there’s no avoiding the fact that you need a car to get to and from work and to get around in general. This is the majority of us.

And like most people, you don’t have a big pile of cash sitting in your bank account. So, this next commuter car needs to be the right one that you can afford.

Forget about the convertible sports car or whatever high-zootin’ fancy-ass SUV that’s tempting you.

Just stick to the five rules and find a simple and sensible vehicle that’s safe, reliable and great on gas. Buy smart and your daily commute will be a stress-free affair.

Buckle up, drive safe and be happy!

Feel Better,

more on cubicle life