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Monday, May 28, 2018

Fuel prices and vehicle choices



Fuel prices are on the rise again. We were in a period of unusually low prices, in my opinion. Gas prices under three dollars a gallon came as a surprise to me, so I'm no expert. That being said, my guess is that prices will go up in the short term and be volatile in the long run. That's a concern when looking for a vehicle that is expected to last for years.

If you buy a gas hog and get stuck with high prices, that's bad. On the flip side, buying a vehicle with good mileage doesn't hurt you if fuel prices come down. What might happen is that you are stuck with a vehicle that's not large enough to do the job that needs to be done.

However, people do a lot of dumb things with it comes to buying cars. Let's say that 99% of the time they only need a smaller vehicle that gets good gas mileage. Instead of buying that, they get a huge pickup truck because they make a couple of trips to the garden store each spring. They'd be way ahead to get the smaller vehicle and renting a truck the few times they need one.

I could get away with driving larger vehicles because they were converted to run on waste vegetable oil that I picked up free from a local restaurant. It was a hassle, but the cost savings were significant. For various reasons that's not going to be an option for me in the future.

A few years ago we picked up a little Nissan Versa Note for my lovely wife. The hatchback allows us to carry quite a few things. With good Thule racks on the roof the car can carry everything from lumber to canoes. It gets real world mileage of 39 mpg. Not bad for a heavily loaded car traveling in the mountains.

That car was cheap, and after three years still problem free. The problem is that very soon we'll be down to only one vehicle. We can make that work, but it's often not convenient and will put more wear and tear on the car than would happen otherwise. For example, next month I've a commitment for a few days in Maine. During those same days there's an event in Vermont my lovely wife wants to go to. What to do, what to do?

I think that in the next few days I'll see if I'll be able to get my old motorcycle on the road. Its restoration was set back when my leg got injured. Now that I'm doing better, it might be time to see if the old bike can be fixed up. It would at least solve our short term transportation issues at the end of June. (assuming, that is, that the bike runs and passes inspection.)

Then there's issue of what to do for next winter. We had planned on towing our Oday 19 behind the van and doing a mixture of sailing and camping. With the van out of the picture, that's not going to happen. Of course, our budget is limited, so the problem can't be solved by throwing money at it. People with unlimited funds never get the joy of figuring out solutions on a tight budget. It's very intellectually stimulating.

Right now I'm putting together a lot of possible ideas. By not locking myself into one path, I'll be able to take advantage of random opportunities that come my way. This is called, “luck” by the uninitiated.

-Sixbears

10 comments:

  1. LOL - May "random opportunity" treat you kindly!

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  2. I'm sure you'll use that yankee ingenuity and come up with a solution.

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    1. If the Yankee ingenuity won't do it, redneck engineering will. :)

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  3. One of the limitations for buying used vehicles is the ability to work on them. Some of the newer ones, post OBD2 systems, are way too finicky and have too many sub systems and creature comforts controlled by the new CAN protocols that are prone to fail and are way beyond most people's shady tree mechanic skills. That limits us to pre 2006 cars. That's twelve years old, and around here 90% of those cars have rust issues. However....southern cars of that age tend to be quite nice and clean. As you do get to Florida in winter, I am thinking you might take advantage and pick something older but rust free down there. Dive the little Nissan down. Pick up a nice clean used van, park the Nissan at friends or relatives while you travel about in your new purchase, and then put a front hitch on the Nissan and tow it back north on your return.

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    1. Since last year's hurricane, I've been advised to avoid FL used vehicles. A lot of them were flooded, many in salt water.

      Today I'm going to resume working on my 1974 KZ900 motorcycle. Picked up the mechanic's manual and it's pretty straight forward. As for newer vehicles I've pretty much given up.

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  4. I, too, have been "intellectually stimulated" most of my life. But it is said "necessity is the mother of invention."

    We have mostly trucks around here because of cattle ranching. The car dealers stock more trucks than cars. Usually people have one of each as two vehicles out here are a necessity. We have two old ones.

    I'm sure you will be intellectually stimulated to make the right choice for transportation.

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    1. Of course, one has to have some funds to work with. Not quite to the point where I can do anything with nothing.

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  5. You got time before winter to come up with something. Have the family look for you to. If a good deal comes along your wife will allow you the funds within reason.

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    1. She's on-board with these adventures so it's a whole lot easier.

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