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Old 01-17-2013, 04:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Short tripper

Salutations. I've been lurking for about a year and decided to join in. I'm a truck and equipment mechanic with thirty years experience. About a year & a half ago I decided that my E250 conversion van was way overkill for my needs. I live a mile and a half from where I work and rarely take long road trips. I decided my truck owning days were over and hatched a plan to buy a fuel efficient car and set it up to pull a small trailer for the occasional hauling jobs. I researched FE cars for several months and came up with a short list. My criteria was fuel efficiency, low maintenance & maintenance costs, chain driven cam, manual transmission, ability to do light towing, excellent parts availability and as basic (low option) as possible. My search ended after six months with a 2005 Scion XA. It is a 56k mile, manual trans little beasty. I bought it in Chicago where it suffered from scratches and minor dents that brought my purchase price to $3k under book. I live an hour south of the city so it doesn't suffer them indignities any more.

Because I have a very short commute and rarely drive highways, my main focus is on increasing my MPGs for urban driving. At present I am averaging 32.4 mpg long term. The XA is an excellent car for this kind of driving because it really wasn't built as a freeway cruiser. It is content and delivers the best mpgs at 52 mph @ 2250 rpm. On flat ground it will deliver low-mid 50 mpgs instant at this range.

Anyway, I'll see you around.

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Old 01-17-2013, 05:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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That's aboput the worst kind of driving you can do with a car. How about a bicycle when the weather is decent?

Welcome aboard.

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Mech
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I've considered bicycling. One problem with it is I work second shift so the I'm there when the trucks are in for the day, getting off at 11:00 p.m.. Even though my commute is mostly through a residential area, I don't want to become a human hood ornament. I have a real bright LED flasher on the back of my bike, but some people are too distracted, drunk, or flat out goofy to see taillights on a car let alone a bicycle. The temperature can get pretty cool here at night too. I'm thinking about giving it a go though, it would be a good way to wind down after a tough shift.

I keep a pretty close watch on inside of my oil filler cap to make sure I don't have condensation building up in the crankcase.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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An electric bicycle would be absolutely perfect for that run, plus you could probably charge it up at work for free!
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:14 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I haven't really studied up on electric bicycles though I may. Restoring and modifying high quality older bicycles is an occasional hobby of mine so it would be a natural fit.

It's kind of funny that as it is now I fill my tank about every other month and I never let it drop below a 1/4. If I start using alternative transportation, I could go three or four months without fueling.
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Old 01-18-2013, 12:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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You don't want to let that crappy e10 stuff sitting in your tank for 3-4mo!!!!
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Old 01-18-2013, 12:31 PM   #7 (permalink)
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E10 stores amazingly well. Back in the day it was common practice to put a bottle of HEET in a full tank of gas to absorb water condensation. Heet was nothing but ethanol. I have some gensets at work that can go a year or more without starting and they usually fire right up. The biggest problem with ethanol is that it contains roughly half the BTUs of gasoline so it requires twice as much to do the same amount of work. I've often thought that my ultimate automobile would be a lightweight ethanol powered hybrid that used home brew ethanol for the combustion engine. That would leave only the lubricating oil dependent on crude.
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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For trips that short I would change oil extremely often as the engine isn't even warming up in a mile and a half... otherwise a mile and a half takes 20 to 30 minutes to walk! if it's in town it can be faster to bike then drive, but where you are it sounds like you have some highway or at least roads with faster speed limits.

I would opt for something electric, depending on your other needs, towing a trailer with a small electric vehicle shouldn't be an issue and with the small amount of driving you do even a lead acid battery pack could last 10+ years, you'll also get instant heat and you could wire it up to preheat so you leave for work getting in to a warm vehicle.
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:36 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I looked at EVs last summer while I was still in the decision making process. I don't understand the why the major car manufacturers are building them as full boat luxury liners. I would reasonably think that a bare bones model, like the original VW Beetle, would appeal to the majority of people that would be a likely purchase an EV for local transportation. Just seems like odd marketing.

In Illinois, state law leaves it up to local munincipalities to allow small non-dot vehicles on the local roads. The town I live in doesn't allow them. I could petition the local city council to have them allowed. At my prior employer we had Cushman & Taylor Dunn EVs that would be perfect for my needs if I could legally operate one.
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think Federal law allows NEV's (Neighborhood Electric Vehicle) on all roads with speed limits of 35mph or less and it's up to the state or city to allow them to go faster then 25mph, 35mph is common, but to a lot of people that makes a lot of them pretty useless, local law can allow non DOT vehicles like you said, but NEV's are DOT approved.
I agree with you to a point on the high end EV's that are on the market seeming like they are cutting out a large portion of the potential buyers, but at the same time the extra little frills tend to be cheap and allow them to be quicker in recouping start up costs, just like Nissan is going to offer, for 2013 a more basic Nissan Leaf that costs $6000 less and in the past two years they've managed to extend the range while using the same battery by making lots of small improvements to the car, I highly doubt tho that someone like your self would go out and buy a brand new car then only drive it 100-200 miles per month, of course it would most likely last you the rest of your life but with that light of use pretty much any car could last you the rest of your life! other then of course wearing out starters, drivers seats and ignition switches from repeated short trips.
As it is it sounds like you already have a vehicle and a pretty good choice for your needs, I'd look at installing a block heater so your engine warms up more, if you put it on a timer it will also save you more in gas then you spend in electricity to run the block heater, personally I'd install a plug like boats and RV's have for plugging in on the fender or something so you are not fumbling with a little cord hanging out the grill, those tend to also have a weather proof cap on them.

If you do want to go the EV route, there is an EV club some where around Chicago, in recent years members of these clubs that can afford to buy factory built EV's have done so and some of them are willing to sell their home built EV's that are in fine working order pretty cheap.

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