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Mileage Tracker Case Study

Discussion in 'Taxes' started by skytessa, Jan 10, 2017 at 4:24 PM.

  1. skytessa

    skytessa New Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    As an Uber driver, I’m putting a ton of miles on my car and I need to claim as many as I can on my taxes. I started a thread asking for advice (see here) about the easiest way to track miles and got a bunch of suggestions. It seemed there was no consensus, and no one had really done a thorough comparison. Thus, here it is.

    -------------------

    My friend's mom is a CPA and she recommended The Mileage Ace to me for a bunch of reasons. You’ll see why below.

    The key lesson I learned in this study is that what your tracker misses is more important that what it actually captures. Figure for every 1% you miss, it costs you $5 for every 1000 miles you drive. So 95% accuracy means it's costing you $25 per 1000 miles.

    Another quick note about missing miles is that I can’t tell you how many times I was driving and realized the the apps weren't on. This was especially annoying after I had a phone update and forgot for two days, forcing me to restart my case study (the Mileage Ace device was on this whole time). When I ran out of the 40 free trips on MileIQ, I had to download another version onto my boyfriend’s phone. This turned out fortuitous in the final study bc MileIQ’s accuracy is waaaaaay off depending on which model of phone you have.

    I started tracking miles on Jan 1 and ran the comparison for 7 days for a nice little snapshot of driving. I used one physical GPS device (The Mileage Ace), and 3 apps (Hurdlr, MileIQ, and Triplog). My odometer showed 986.7 miles in that week.


    Mileage Ace: 99% accurate to odometer

    Pros: Once set up, it stays permanently in car and is always on. No missed trips. Tons of detail. No phone battery drainage issues. Business button on device made classifying trips super easy.

    Cons: Had to buy device ($29.99) and tracking service. Minor work to set up wifi networks and link to an online account.

    Overall Impression: This was the easiest of the 4 logs to edit, and the accuracy increased my deduction enough to easily pay for the service. My log has exact addresses, plus a convenient map with full driving path. The device uses GPS (hence the awesome accuracy) and it uploaded automatically over wifi when I returned home. It’s weird, but having a real device instead of an app relieved a lot of stress I was having about getting a complete log.​


    Hurdlr: 93% accurate to odometer

    Pros: Totally Free. Has a ton of expense tracking features.

    Cons: Misses a lot of miles. App interface only (no way to view or edit log except thru their limited window). If you don’t classify trips often, this app is a pain. Asks for all sorts of bank and private info - felt like Big Brother to me.

    Overall Impression: As the only really free tracker, I can see the allure. My biggest issue with Hurdlr is that I COULD NOT figure out how to download, email or print my log. It lives in your app on your phone. What if your phone dies or gets stolen? And I’m pretty darn sure that log won’t fly if you are audited (can you imagine an auditor combing through your phone app?). You’re playing Russian Roulette with this one.

    MileIQ: 82-96% accurate to odometer

    Pros: User friendly app interface. Auto features work seamlessly. When it works, it works really well. Alas…

    Cons: That HUGE discrepancy in accuracy (more below). Generic auto-fill street names and locations made editing trips super confusing. Final reports too simple/No way to customize to add detail. It's also the most expensive app.

    Overall Impression: This was my favorite app, until I saw what was going on with our iPhone 5SE. One trip, driven with the phones side-by-side, had a 10 mile difference in the log. Then, the 5SE missed a whole 57.5 mile trip for no reason! The app was on. It made no sense. On the more accurate phone (6S Plus), I noticed MileIQ would be off a mile here, half a mile there and showed me parked blocks away from where I really was. In the end, those shaved miles really added up.​


    Triplog: 92 % accurate to odometer

    Pros: Lots of detail in log. Cheap pricing.

    Cons: Not very accurate. Their “free account” is bs. They only let you print 5 trips. You have to pay for a real log. Battery hog.

    Overall Impression: You get what you pay for. Glitchy. Also, the online software was too busy for me. Same with the reports. Felt like it was trying to cover too much info. I just want a mileage log!​


    So to put the above into what matters most (money, of course), here's what my deduction would be over the 986.7 miles I drove:

    • Odometer (100%): $527
      In theory a paper log could give you this. But this is purely theoretical because I use my car for personal reasons too and will easily forget to keep a log and have no idea how many miles I drove for business. I just can't imagine how people can do this accurately.

    • Mileage Ace (@99%): $522 (misses $5)
    • Hurdlr (@ 93%): $491 (misses $36)

    • MileIQ iPhone 6S Plus (@96%): $506 (misses $21)

    • Mile IQ iPhone 5SE (@82%): $432 (misses $95)

    • Triplog (@ 92%): $486 (misses $41)

    IN SUMMATION: Any one of these apps/devices will log your miles. The question is do they log all of your miles. If you don’t drive a lot, don't sweat it. You should go with the cheapest app available. If you do, it’s a dollars and sense thing. My final decision came down to money. I’m sticking with the Mileage Ace. It was more upfront, but over time, it’ll save me a ton of more money.

    I hope this helps!
     
    LAuberX likes this.
  2. Older Chauffeur

    Older Chauffeur Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Simi Valley Ca
    Tough to teach an old dog new tricks, I guess, but I've been keeping mileage logs one way or another my whole career. My CPA insisted on it when I started contract driving fourteen years ago, when these apps didn't exist. I use a DayPlanner, and it's just a habit to note the odometer each time I start out.
     
    LAuberX likes this.
  3. LAuberX

    LAuberX Moderator Moderator

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Driving:
    UberX
    $free: abandoned kids notebook from a class they dropped.

    Start car, write down date and mileage. put on seatbelt, go Uber.
    park car, write down mileage, go inside and open a beer.

    100% accurate, I'll keep logs for 7 years, no passwords, no plug in devices, no membership fees, no learning curve.... and did I mention free?
     
    Older Chauffeur likes this.
  4. skytessa

    skytessa New Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Lol. I can't keep a paper log. Inevitably I forget to log something. Don't you ever get too busy, or have to hurry to your next location? Doing the case study showed me how expensive it is to miss a trip. Paper logs are probably the MOST expensive logging method because of that.
     
  5. RamzFanz

    RamzFanz Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Saint Louis
    Excellent work. Wish you had tried SherpaShare.
     
    skytessa, Ubergirlz99 and El Gato like this.

  6. Mears Troll Number 4

    Mears Troll Number 4 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Orlando
    Driving:
    Taxi
    The paper log is the way I do it, I've tried other methods and when they first came out ther were losing entirely too many miles and I never trusted them.

    You just HAVE to always log your miles every day.
     
    El Gato and Older Chauffeur like this.
  7. crimson.snwbnny

    crimson.snwbnny Member

    Location:
    san anonio
    Driving:
    UberX
    i stuck a stick on my dash in big bold letters says odometer to try and get myself to remember and write it down. bought a little log for like $3

    at first my logs looked like this
    name of pax (which i would write at the end of the trip_
    ODMTR reading when i got the ping
    ODMTR reading after dropping them off

    but then i read that all milage while online should count
    so now i just note ODMTR when i go online and ODMTR when i go offline with the date

    For expenses like gas, carwashes,maintenance, i use Drivvo and keep all the receipts in middle console. which i need to scan otherwise the reciepts will fade
     

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