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Short commute vehicle?
Old 07-20-2008, 08:57 AM   #1
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Short commute vehicle?

Okay, last week I started a new job. Sacrilegious on this board but I did it anyway. Plan is to work 2 -4 years full time for toys and increase savings, then kick back to part time for beer money. So far I like the people and the environment, and it gives me a foot in the door for perhaps something more interesting later on. And, it will almost double our income.

The commute is 3 miles each way. I've been driving my full-size pickup but that short drive, done repeatedly, will kill it quickly. A bicycle is not an option because of narrow, hilly, windy roads - I'd have a life expectancy of about three days doing that.

I test drove a 150 cc scooter, but it just doesn't have the "oomph" needed for a 1 mile piece of road with a 50 mph speed, so I looked at a 250 cc Honda Rebel street bike ($3,200) which would do the job nicely, except that winter is coming. In the '70s I learned that motorcycles and snow/ice don't go together well. Don't ask how I know that.

Reality set in, so I'm thinking more along the lines of a POS car or pickup for about $1,500/$2,000 - if it runs for three years I'll feel like I got my nickel's worth. The Honda sure would be a lot more fun though....

Any other suggestions?
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Old 07-20-2008, 09:03 AM   #2
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We have older Saturns, Walt, a 1996 and a 1997, that cost in your price range and are classic POS type cars. They are SL2 4-doors. Any grandma type car would work in your situation, though.
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Old 07-20-2008, 09:05 AM   #3
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POS car for the winter, and the rebel for the summer. About 5k all up, and you've got transportation as well as a toy that can be used to get to work. And much of the year (while on the rebel) you'll be getting gas mileage you can't achieve in a car.

Guess the credentials finally came thru. Good luck with the toy money j*b, and let us know when you get that travel trailer.

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Old 07-20-2008, 09:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt34 View Post
Okay, last week I started a new job. Sacrilegious on this board but I did it anyway. Plan is to work 2 -4 years full time for toys and increase savings, then kick back to part time for beer money. So far I like the people and the environment, and it gives me a foot in the door for perhaps something more interesting later on. And, it will almost double our income.
Congratulations.
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... except that winter is coming. In the '70s I learned that motorcycles and snow/ice don't go together well. Don't ask how I know that.
I've been there - thank God for full face helmets!
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Reality set in, so I'm thinking more along the lines of a POS car or pickup for about $1,500/$2,000 - if it runs for three years I'll feel like I got my nickel's worth.
The POS sounds like the solution, but I would worry about reliability so I would choose carefully. Breaking down halfway to work would suck. Something Toyota is my recommendation.

How long is winter there where you live? If it's not too long you could drive the truck during the winter and then drive something like this the rest of the year.



Ain't she sweet? More than the Honda (you can buy a one year old used one on Ebay Motors for $6-7K) but very nice.
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Old 07-20-2008, 09:38 AM   #5
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Get a Skidoo for the winter and the Honda for the summer.

If you can't ride either of those, it's not worth going to work that day.
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Old 07-20-2008, 10:16 AM   #6
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I had a 1991 Nissan Sentra (2 door) that ran like forever. Don't forget to check out craigs list when looking for cars (in addition to the standard sites).
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Old 07-20-2008, 10:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt34 View Post
Plan is to work 2 -4 years full time for toys and increase savings, then kick back to part time for beer money. So far I like the people and the environment, and it gives me a foot in the door for perhaps something more interesting later on. And, it will almost double our income.
That sounds like the good part of working.

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I've been driving my full-size pickup but that short drive, done repeatedly, will kill it quickly.
A bicycle is not an option because of narrow, hilly, windy roads - I'd have a life expectancy of about three days doing that.
I test drove a 150 cc scooter, but it just doesn't have the "oomph" needed for a 1 mile piece of road with a 50 mph speed,
so I looked at a 250 cc Honda Rebel street bike ($3,200) which would do the job nicely,
except that winter is coming. In the '70s I learned that motorcycles and snow/ice don't go together well. Don't ask how I know that.
Reality set in, so I'm thinking more along the lines of a POS car or pickup for about $1,500/$2,000 - if it runs for three years I'll feel like I got my nickel's worth. The Honda sure would be a lot more fun though....
This sounds like the sucky part of working-- the first few paychecks go toward paying for the cost of the infrastructure necessary to be able to get to work.

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The commute is 3 miles each way. I've been driving my full-size pickup but that short drive, done repeatedly, will kill it quickly.
This is going to sound like a bunch of dumb questions, but more infrastructure gets expensive and you sound like you'd rather spend the money on other things.

What exactly does it mean about the pickup, to "kill it quickly"? Is a beater Toyota or Nissan somehow more survivable than the pickup, or will they all be suffering to some degree from the commute? Is there something you're saving the pickup for that's more expensive than buying a beater (and insuring it) for the commute? Is there some sort of additional monitoring or maintenance that could be done on the pickup (to keep it in good shape) that would be cheaper than the cost of another vehicle?

One of the reasons I'm asking is because our kid will be getting her license in a few months, and then our used Prius will spend most of its time commuting the 1.2 miles between home & high school. (As far as we parents will know without installing a hidden GPS receiver.) We're just planning to take it out for a longer run once in a while and to keep an eye on the maintenance and the mpg trend.

That stretch of 50 mph road is a killer for electric bicycles, Segways, golf carts, ATVs, and scooters. Is there a bike path (or at least a trail) that a battery-powered vehicle or an off-road recreational vehicle could use?
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Old 07-20-2008, 11:45 AM   #8
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I'd vote for driving the pickup. Unless you are tryng to keep this truck to hand down to your kids/grandkids, or you enter it in auto shows, I think you'll find it is the cheapest and most practical solution.

Sure, the short trips aren't good for it. What will happen? Your exhaust might rust out sooner, and you'll have a little more wear from the startup phase. Use synthetic oil to minimize the latter problem, or buy a top-end pre-oiler if you really want to go crazy. Set aside $10 per month for the exhaust system replacement (it will go a year or two earlier than itt otherwise would have).

Another vehicle brings a whole set of new maintenance issues, another yearly vehicle license fee, a bump-up in your car insurance, another piece of steel littering your driveway, and another depreciating asset. For all this you'll be getting a vehicle that is not as comfortable or reliable as the truck you have now. You need to get to work, right? For the money you'll spend on any decent used car, you can pay the extra for gas and keep your truck on the road for many more years.

Keep it simple.

Unless you just want another car.
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Old 07-20-2008, 12:03 PM   #9
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Add 6-8 ounces of marvel mystery oil to your crankcase oil when you change it (in place of some of the regular oil) and four ounces to your gas tank just before you fill up. Then change your oil every 3000-4000 miles. Let the truck run for 4-5 minutes in the morning before you drive it off. Make sure you take it for a 10+ mile jaunt every few days. You might also within reason switch to a lower viscosity oil, like going from a 10w40 to a 10w30 or a 5w30. Synthetic would help a little but changing it more often is more important IMO. You arent going to have as much of a problem with breakdown of the primary oil as you are excess impurities breaking down the additive package in the oil.

You'll have no problems with this setup. The mystery oil in the crankcase will improve the oils low temp flow rate and help reduce gum build ups, the MMO in the gas tank will keep your top cylinder and valve areas lubed, burned off in the cylinder it'll coat your interior exhaust proofing it from premature rust, and the faster than needed oil changes will eliminate problems caused by the additive package being used up faster when the engine doesnt reach top operating temps and doesnt burn off impurities.

BTW, an ounce or so of MMO in your gas can for your mowers and whatnot will also do some wonders. It'll float on top sealing the gas from absorbing water or 'aging' too much, and the extra lubrication it provides gives your small 4 cycle engines a lot of benefit. Just shake the can a little before pouring.

I can buy the stuff cheap by the gallon at either costco or sams club, then I fill some little empty fuel cleaner bottles and take one with me to the gas station when I fill up.
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Old 07-20-2008, 02:25 PM   #10
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Walt34,

Are there alternative commuting options for you? Like:

Carpooling
Bus riding
Walking (OK, in the winter maybe not so great, but I have walked over 3 miles one-way in snow and ice to get home from work because the buses couldn't make it up the very steep hill I worked on. It's do-able!)
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Old 07-20-2008, 04:52 PM   #11
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Ain't she sweet? More than the Honda (you can buy a one year old used one on Ebay Motors for $6-7K) but very nice.
Wow, that is a nice ride!

If I really, really, like the job, maybe someday....
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Old 07-20-2008, 05:07 PM   #12
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The truck I'm driving now is a 2003 GMC Sierra 4WD bought new that was my retirement present to me from me. After reading the collective wisdom of people here it seems like the best idea is to just use the truck and not buy another vehicle, and get the Honda Rebel. Another guy at work has one and reports 83-87 mpg.

And I'll just take the long way home from work once every few days when using the truck. But perhaps I'm exaggerating in my mind the bad effects of short runs on it. More frequent oil changes of course but the exhaust system is stainless. And a new exhaust is still cheaper than any other vehicle.

The winter season that makes a motorcycle impractical is from about November to March/April.

Carpooling and such is not practical as anyone to go with would have to drive farther out of their way than I drive to work - not very realistic.

Bus? Ha - this is West Virginia. They do have a bus line but I'd walk farther to a bus stop than I would to work.

Ski-doo? Hmmm, maybe I can rationalize another new toy....
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Old 07-20-2008, 06:02 PM   #13
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And I'll just take the long way home from work once every few days when using the truck. But perhaps I'm exaggerating in my mind the bad effects of short runs on it. More frequent oil changes of course but the exhaust system is stainless. And a new exhaust is still cheaper than any other vehicle.
When I got rid of the old car, it was at ~18 years and ~75,000 miles. I went to changing the oil and getting things checked twice a year, then went to once a year. The folks at the garage never told me there was a problem, and it went through pollution inspections with no problem.

I did have to replace the muffler every 2 years or so (went through a total of 7 or 8 ) ; at least one of them was stainless. The folks at Midas really did replace it for free 5 times or so.

Finally replaced it because I couldn't get parts (specifically what the stick shift connects to) the connection was getting so loose it was hard to find the right gear.
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Old 07-20-2008, 06:15 PM   #14
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Keep driving the truck.

Please do not get a scooter or motorcycle - too dangerous. I am extremely frugal - but risking your life so much is not worth saving gas or wear-and-tear on a truck.

I am in sales - driving 40+ K a year - I am definitely noticing more accidents on the road from motorcycles and scooters - I'm sure there's going to be news stories shortly with horrible statistics.
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:29 PM   #15
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Electric clothing

For that short commute, have you considered something like an Aerostick riding suit (all one piece) over a set of electric-heated clothes.

While Widder is going out of business (108 watts total draw), Gerbings makes a top and bottom piece + gloves.

I also know of a kit that a person can get off the internet that will enable a wearer to make his/her own heated vest. There are also heated cloves and heated socks that run on D-cells.

If the draw is more than your small bike can handle, put a battery tender on the machine overnight, and bring it up to full charge by the AM.

For those days where there is a true downpour, deep snow and/or ice, take the "cage."
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Old 07-20-2008, 07:55 PM   #16
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If I were in the beautiful state of West Virginia, I might consider an all wheel or at least a front wheel drive vehicle to handle those dicey driving conditions. Otherwise, I vote for sticking with the pick up. Just remember to put some weight in the back when it's snowy or, even worse, icy.
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Old 07-21-2008, 08:51 AM   #17
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Used import will do the job.........
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Old 07-21-2008, 05:34 PM   #18
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I'd have a life expectancy of about three days doing that.

I test drove a 150 cc scooter, but
Reverse the two sentences above from your posting, and you have at least half your answer.

IMHO, keep driving the GMC truck- it's a well-made piece of American iron, and will handle the short commute- just change the oil a little more often. You probably can't buy anything to replace it that will give you a ROI on the fuel cost differential, outside of a used bicycle.
If you just want a scooter for the fun of it, well, that's another story altogether...
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:06 AM   #19
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When I got rid of the old car, it was at ~18 years and ~75,000 miles. I went to changing the oil and getting things checked twice a year, then went to once a year. The folks at the garage never told me there was a problem, and it went through pollution inspections with no problem.

I did have to replace the muffler every 2 years or so (went through a total of 7 or 8 ) ; at least one of them was stainless. The folks at Midas really did replace it for free 5 times or so.

Finally replaced it because I couldn't get parts (specifically what the stick shift connects to) the connection was getting so loose it was hard to find the right gear.
Walt, I had a similar experience with my cheesy 95 Ford Escort. We moved from the midwest (lots 'o driving) to NYC (car sits for a week at a time, then gets driven 2 to 10 miles, with the occasional long trip). I changed the oil a couple of times a year but otherwise did nothing special to it. The escort is about as light duty a car as you can find without seeing something with a lot of cardboard in its construction, yet it did fine and had no particular problems with the short distance driving. Like Khan's beater, it ate a muffler about every two years. I sold it to my sister 3 years ago and it is still running around Brooklyn, despite getting nailed in a low speed collision and starting to build up a significant rust issue (but then its been in service for 13 years).

I would just drive the truck.
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:16 AM   #20
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I have a 13 year old truck and would vote to continue driving that....I would be more concerned about having something more economical for longer trips....not the other way around....
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