Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Nasir writes: I recently moved and will now need a second car to commute to the station – which is 1.5 miles away. Yes, I can ride a bicycle as they want you to here, or buy a more sensible car/cheap banger, but you know announcing stuff like banning proper cars makes you want to get one more while you can. Also, with all that CO2 reduction they are planning – someone has to look out for all the plants and trees!
So am considering an old sporty car, say mid to early 2000s (basically the earliest that is “green” enough to be allowed into central London without a money grab). Need back seats for the kids (small is fine as they are still small), want a manual gearbox – ideally either an M3 or 911 of that era as they are now relatively affordable out here without financing of course (really wanted something like the track hawk or the new Mustangs, but don’t at all want to take on financing and these are still quite expensive out here).
I was reading into things and one thing I came across is that making mostly short journeys on a regular basis is actually very bad for these performance cars (or any car) over time, as a drive of a couple minutes is not enough to warm up the engine and empty the gunk in the exhaust system -which if clogged can be an expensive fix. My normal run is about approximately 7 minutes, 1.5 miles to the station, and back every day. Temperature out here most of the year is from 40f-70f, if that matters. Do you know have any experience with this? Is there any way to prevent such issues?
My reply: It is true that very short distance driving can be very hard on a car; on any car. It is generally considered “severe” or “heavy duty” service and more frequent maintenance schedules are generally advised. The reason has to do with the engine especially not reaching full operating temperature and being turned off before it does. This was more an issue with older (pre-computer/carbureted) cars, which took longer to “warm up” but it is still an issue even with modern cars that are set up to achieve normal operating temperature (mainly for emissions control reasons) much faster.
Your best bet is to drive the car longer and more often – which ought not to be to hard if you end up with that 911 or M3! My advice – what I would do – is rotate the cars. Drive your “normal” car on some days – ideally, days when it’s rainy – and take the fun car out when it’s sunny and nice. This plus regular fluid changes (use synthetics as they offer much better protection) ought to avoid any troubles.
Another good thing to do if you have an infrequently or lightly used car is to keep it hooked to a battery tender/trickle charger when not being used. This will keep the battery fully charged and extend its service life, too.
Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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