Bug Out Buggies

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If things get bad, you will probably want to stay put – if where you are when things go bad is a relatively safe area. But what if you need to bug out? And how about staying mobile in a S hitting the F scenario? Here are some thoughts – from the perspective of a guy who’s been test-driving new cars for more than 20 years – and fiddling with old cars for a lot longer than that:bug out lead

* Hybrids -

This might strike you as a strange choice, but consider: Hybrids have tremendous range – as much as 600 miles on about 12 gallons of gas (the current Prius). If you’re bugging out, you don’t want to have to stop for anything – much less gas, which might not be available. Hybrids are also stealthy. Most can operate in EV – electric vehicle – mode, which means they can be driven on just the batteries and motors. Silent running. Some (the plug-in version of the Prius, the Ford Fusion and – yup – the Chevy Volt) can be driven for a dozen or more miles – and at fairly high road speeds (as much as 100 MPH in the case of the Volt; close to 70 in the case of the plug-in Prius).In EV mode, these cars are whisper quiet – a potential life-saver in a situation where being noticed could be a life-ender.

Hybrids are also portable generators – literally. The onboard gas engine, in addition to providing motive power, also generates electrical power to charge the batteries. This could be tapped for other purposes. And hybrids with plug-in capability can be recharged using off-the-grid solar or wind or water generated electricity. Even if there’s no gas to be had, if there’s juice, you’ll be mobile. plug -in picture

While new hybrids are pretty pricey, used ones can be purchased for reasonable money. Keep in mind that the Prius has been in mass production for more than a decade. There are lots of them out there. You could probably buy an older model in good shape for less than $10,000. And the Prius isn’t the only hybrid, either. Honda has been making hybrid versions of the Civic for many years now –  and there are hybrid versions of many popular cars (and trucks, too). Just be sure to confirm that the battery pack is in good order. Then, park it under a tarp – or in the garage – for just-in-case.

* Mid-’90s GM (or Ford) “Boat” -

Do you remember the Shamu the Whale Caprice GM made from circa 1990-1996? The same-era (and through 2011, the final model year) Ford Crown Victoria (and its sister car, the Mercury Marquis)? These big sleds were – and continue to be – hugely popular with cops and taxi drivers, which is a strong endorsement of their merits as S hitting the F mobiles. They are basically trucks that look like cars – built on heavy steel frames and featuring rugged suspensions (solid axle rear ends, coil spring front ends, beefy stamped steel control arms, etc.). They can run over a concrete center divider at 60 MPH and not break. They have simple, durable, easy to keep going almost forever V-8s under their flight deck hoods that can (and do) routinely go for 300,000-plus miles – and unlike the latest multi-turbo’d, direct-injected, variable cam-timed and cylinder deactivated engines, can be economically rebuilt by a home mechanic to go another 300k. They have room enough inside  – and in the trunk – to carry several people and a large quantity of essential supplies, including a few 5 gallon cans to make up for the V-8’s thirst.'96 Caprice pic

The best part, though, may be the price you can expect to pay. Which is not much. The NADA “blue book” value for a ’96 Caprice in excellent condition is under $1,800 (see here). GM also offered a station wagon version of the Caprice (also sold as the Buick Roadmaster) that’s even roomier – and has all the S hitting the F virtues of the sedan.

PS: Older “boats” from the ’80s (and ’70s) are a good choice too, but I plug these ’90s-era GM and Ford boats in particular because they are modern enough (courtesy of electronic fuel injection and overdrive transmissions, chiefly) to be extremely durable, reliable, fairly fuel-efficient everyday drivers that require very little in the way of elaborate or expensive maintenance  . . . but not too modern, unlike current-era cars – which can be crippled and rendered so much redneck lawn sculpture by relatively minor electrical/computer glitches that might be tough to fix (or get fixed) if the S hits F.

* Diesels made prior to circa 2005 -

You may have noticed that the cost of diesel fuel has gone up – and the posted mileage numbers of new diesels has gone down. Also that many of the current crop require periodic top-offs with agricultural urea (sold under the more pleasant-sounding name, AdBlue or Diesel Exhaust Fluid). The reason for all three is the need to comply with the latest federal emissions requirements, which have had the unintended consequence of rendering current diesels more expensive to buy – and less efficient to operate.DEF pic

As regards a S hitting the F scenario, the relevant consideration is not so much cost as the fact that you will need to feed the thing urea (AdBlue, DEF, etc.) which it will not run without if the tank runs dry. All current diesel-powered cars with urea injection (which is almost all of them) are set up to automatically immobilize themselves (engine can’t be restarted or the car can’t be driven faster than a crawl) if it’s operated for more than a pre-programmed distance without sufficient urea in the tank. And urea/AdBlue/DEF may be hard to come by if the system comes unglued. In which case, your diesel vehicle would be dead in the water.

Another new diesel negative related to the impact of the latest emissions control regulations is that the new diesels, as a rule, cannot burn biodiesel – the stuff you can brew yourself. Or at least, the stuff that can be brewed without need of an industrial scale refinery (and fossil fuels).

The older diesels can burn waste vegetable oil and many other things besides. That’s what you want in a S hitting the F scenario.

Current-era diesel powered are also afflicted with particulate filters that need to regularly “regenerate” – which requires them to be operated at a steady-state (and fairly high) speed for a given period of time in order to burn off accumulated soot in the trap. In normal (current) life, that’s not an issue. But if things become not normal – and it’s not feasible (or safe) to go out on the highway for the 15-20 minutes or so at 60 MPH it takes to “regenerate” the particulate filter – you could have a problem car on your hands. One that won’t be ready to go when you desperately need to get going – or which won’t go very far (or very fast) when you need it to.

Older diesels are also simpler – and more rugged – designs. That’s another plus.

* Conversion van -Chevy van

Remember the old Chris Farley skit about living in a van down by the river? In an S hitting the F situation, that wouldn’t be a bad deal at all. Rivers are a source of fresh (because moving) water and (potentially) food (fish). But why a conversion van over an RV? Both are homes on wheels – mobile shelter. But a conversion van – a vehicle like the current Ford Econoline series and Dodge Ram van – or the Chevy Van and Astro van of the ’80s – is much more mobile (being smaller) much quicker and faster – and far more fuel-efficient. A V-8 powered van like the Econoline, Chevy Van or Ram series van can also be muscle car quick – and when you need to make tracks in a critical situation, that’s an invaluable attribute. Traditional conversion vans are also built on heavy-duty, truck-type chassis – and are beefy enough to batter through almost anything.  But perhaps the chief advantage of a conversion van is that it doesn’t stick out as much – which means it doesn’t attract as much attention. I read a feature article recently (see here) about a  guy who – to save money – lived in his van while attending graduate school. He parked it in the student parking lot – and no one was ever the wiser.

PS: Ford currently sells (in addition to the full-size Econoline) a neat little van called the Transit Connect (review here) that sells for just over $20k brand-new. It’s been out about two years now, so you could probably find a nice used one for around $14k or so. The Econoline (and Ram and Chevy) vans have been around for decades. Should be easy to find one in your price range – and then you can rig it up to suit.

* A paid-for carSHTF final

This is arguably the most desirable S hitting the F type of car. Being debt-free means you aren’t in hock to the banksters – and with no monthly payment hanging over your head, there’s less pressure to meet other expenses – like your mortgage (and food). Perhaps even more important, you can put the money that would have gone toward monthly payments to other, more critical things – like a bug out buggy.

Throw it in the Woods?

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  52 comments for “Bug Out Buggies

  1. eric
    December 16, 2013 at 6:38 am

    test comment

    • Eightsouthman
      December 16, 2013 at 10:18 am

      eric, test indeed. I used the password reset feature Sat. logged in and never got mail confirmation. Accessed the site again and was logged out again so I logged in again, posted a comment, nada since then. I saw a site a couple years ago with bug out vehicles. Almost all were 4×4 ext. or crewcab pickups with long beds and big nurse tanks. My turbo diesel will go over 3,000 miles with a full tank and the nurse tank full. You can park it on a hill to start it too.

      • eric
        December 16, 2013 at 10:24 am

        Hi Eight,

        Yeah – something went weird over the weekend. Dom’s sorting it out now….

    • Clik
      December 16, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      Got to have 4 wheel drive for a bug out vehicle.

      I was at a fair one time when a tornado came through. The exit was jammed with chaotic drivers and mayhem. Popped the knarly tired Jeep in 4X4 and drove over the berms that contained us.

      In a winter emergency once the highway was jammed. People had been sitting in traffic for three and four hours. Many had run out of gas idling and were now freezing in their cars. Those that made desperate attempts to escape by crossing the wet snow covered median were stuck.

      Once again I popped the knarly tired Jeep into 4X4 and drove over the soft snow covered median, through a field and was on my way.

      Now, if I can just find the time to build one bad-ass enough to climb those concrete Jersey walls that are designed to keep us sheeple confined by our masters.

      By the way. As to the diesel urea problem for a bug out vehicle. Couldn’t you just whizz in the tank? Isn’t urea just synthetic urine?

  2. Texas Chris
    December 16, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Mine is a ’94 Jeep Cherokee Sport 2-door. I’ve dropped a 4BT Cummins in it, manual trans, PTO, and added a 68 gallon WVO tank and manual fuel switching valve. Plus bumpers, roof rack, winch, lights, and kitchen sink.

    It’s peppy on the freeway, top speed about 80, and gets not quit 34 MPG highway, with a range of about 2,800 miles on one fill-up. It’ll crawl the SE Texas piney woods, and cross water hazard up to about 5′ deep. Pulls a boat well, too.

    I’ve got about $15k in the rig, it’s paid off. I spend less than $10 a month for petrodiesel, and an hour or so a month filtering oil from the local fry joint.

    Not everybody is going to go through the time and effort (and cash) to set up a rig like this, but the same can be done with an old Dodge/Cummins pickup and a few hundred dollars for WVO tanks and fuel switching equipment, and a grand or so for your fuel oil filtering equipment. The ability to fill up once every two months, though… Seriously, the freedom is exhilarating.

    • eric
      December 16, 2013 at 10:17 am

      Hi Chris,

      Neat rig!

      I especially like the 68 gallon capacity and near 3,000 mile range.

      Hat tip, sir!

  3. BrentP
    December 16, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Putting this in the correct place:

    You mentioned the crown vic, have you ever seen the videos of the guy who goes drives in the Moab with .95 vic?

    There are other videos out there of it.

    Stock crown victoria. going where some people won.t take their SUVs.

    • eric
      December 16, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Impressive!

      I knew these things could take abuse (per my taxi/cop car comment) but…. damn!

  4. Tony
    December 16, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Hi,
    For our family, me and wife and three kids, we have a 2012 subaru forester a 84 f-150 for farm stuff and an 04 corolla that I use for work. For a bug out situation I’d say the forester would be the one to load up, it’s not too bad on gas, great in all weather, and it has a decent amount of storage. Living in the mountains in winter, you can’t beat the subaru

  5. Lee McCoy, P.E.
    December 16, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Eric,

    In response to your prompt and appreciated email resonse & request to me, I submit the essence of my resent email below and look forward to comments from Brent and others:

    Eric,

    Thanks for your articles. I read the one on LewRockwell.com recently about the bug out buggies. I immediately had thought & hoped you’d address the vulnerability of virtually everything on the road (with the exception of over priced antiquities) being subject to EMP breakdown of most of their whole electronic operative systems – most likely from the almighty “lawENFORCEMENT(& don’t you forget it!!)”-types.

    I’m an Electrical Engineer & a ham radio operator. I even have old tube type radio gear in the event of a nuclear EMP event. So naturally I’d love to have a standby EMP-proof vehicle.

    Over the past 2-3 decades even a lot of the few remaining antiquities have been converted to SS ignition from the old points & condensers for performance & fuel economy purposes. But to us EMP-paranoid types there is a real market for the retrofit of late vintage trucks & cars to an EMP-proof condition having the old points & condenser ignition systems. Perhaps to be properly converted this would need to be done on a model by model basis. I’d love to see someone come out with good reliable, detailed & comprehensive how-to instructions on such a retrofit conversion.

    Thanks again for your articles.

    Regards,

    lm

    Lee McCoy, P.E.

    • eric
      December 16, 2013 at 8:03 pm

      Thanks for posting this, Lee!

      I’ll leave it to Brent and others who have the technical knowledge to answer as regards the possibility/feasibility of retrofitting a modern, computer-controlled/EFI vehicle with a points-type system – as well as the wisdom of trying to do so.

      It might be a better option to have an older/simpler vehicle on hand as a back-up. I mentioned in my e-mail to you that I’ve got two bikes that fall into this category. One – a ’76 Kz900 – has been updated to a transistorized ignition. But I have all the original parts necessary to convert it back to points, if the transistorized components got fried.

      Probably the big advantage of a points-type system is that they’re not as vulnerable to being “zapped’ by portable EMPs – cops are experimenting with these as a means of stopping a fleeing car.

      Also that they’re simpler – and so, easier to keep going.

      With points, you usually get some warning before the system goes kaput. With transistorized systems, the engine may just abruptly stop running.

      • BrentP
        December 17, 2013 at 1:52 am

        Modern cars do not have distributors and thus cannot be operated with points. Of the last cars with distributors, their engine management systems adjust timing too to one degree or another so forget about them too.

        Basically the only cars that can be back dated were made roughly 1974-1985.

        • BrentP
          December 17, 2013 at 1:55 am

          I should amend this. It would be possible to take something like a ’95 Ford 302 and rip off all the fuel injection, change to a carb with a different intake manifold… swap in points distributor… etc… it’s possible on legacy engines like that if one wants to do whole sale replacements. but that’s one of the exceptions to every rule.

          • Anti Federalist
            December 17, 2013 at 10:11 pm

            @Brent.

            Yes, this is very do-able.

            I have done it myself, to a 300CID Ford inline six, a 302CID Ford V-8 and a 318 CID Mopar.

          • David
            December 17, 2013 at 11:33 pm

            Are you the Anti Federalist that I know from RPF, or someone else who uses the same username?

        • eric
          December 17, 2013 at 6:20 am

          That’s what I figured…

          I am curious to know whether those “EMP burst” devices that are reportedly in the works to shut down cars permanently dry them – or just momentarily disable them…

          • Jean
            December 17, 2013 at 3:11 pm

            My understanding is that, the modern ones simply STOP. Once you short out the chips, the non-conductive parts that made it all work (Integrated circuit substrate) resemble swiss cheese – allowing current to go in the wrong places at the wrong times.
            Some of the older ones might not have that problem, and at “old enough” technology, you don’t have the sort of electronics that cares much. It’s not shielded, mind – it just is too big to care.

            Analogy on the last part: You have a dam, like the hoover dam. It stops the river from flowing freely, converts the water flow to electricity by directing the flow over turbines. The water continues on its way.
            Water = EMP.
            The dam can take normal ebb and flow, normal extra waters – but if the water level rises too high, you need to let the pressure off (floodgates). Otherwise the dam fails.
            EMP = flash flood.
            Flood gates don’t get to open – the damn is overstressed, and something breaks.

            Now, the new cars are more like a beaver damn than the Hoover…
            Even a small increase in rain can make a mess of the dam.

            But the older stuff? It’s like the Nile or Mississippi delta. LOTS of avenues for the energy to dissipate. WIDE paths. And low power levels normally, but the EMP has avenues of escape, and LOTS of metal to get through and around. It’s not exceeding the tolerances by 0.5 eV in an IC – it needs to get 50 MILLION eV or more, and then it’s pushing that power through a couple of isolated “pipes” (wires) that can handle 50X their normal load.

            EMP might manage to blow the fuses – I doubt the old stuff would notice anything, though. The pressure levels aren’t there. It’s the choke points that go poof, not the robust (“over-engineered”) parts. IE, the metal skin doesn’t get scorch marks, but the tiny chips are all fried.

          • BrentP
            December 17, 2013 at 10:44 pm

            http://www.empcommission.org/docs/A2473-EMP_Commission-7MB.pdf

            See page 115.

            It’s really going to come down to field strength. A strong enough field will take out even a points car.

  6. MikePizzo
    December 16, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Eric, True Bug Out vehicles have distinctly different priorities than Post-Economic SHTF vehicles. You are basically describing the latter.

    When life threatening hell is breaking loose, and I gotta get out of Dodge, I wouldn’t pick a Prius. Whether that vehicle is paid off or not will be of minimal concern. Ditto for “easy to work on.” When you gotta leave immediately, what is important is that it is working Right Then. New diesels that need urea additives are perfectly fine too. You’re either going to make it out….or not…..way before you go through a can of that additive.

    Unless you leave really really early, you’re going to encounter gridlock, roadblocks, and predatory marauders (of both the badged, and civilian variety.) You’re going to need the ability to go off established roadways, plow thru all kinds of obstacles, and carry a decent amount of survival supplies with you.

    Few vehicles fill these needs better than a BIG 4×4 truck or SUV, with a stout bull bar in front.

    If your ultimate retreat destination is less than 100 miles away, a gas truck should be fine. The farther your destination, the more valuable a longer range diesel becomes.

    Afterwards, those attributes you mentioned may become very valuable. But if you don’t make it out alive, they are irrelevant.

    • BrentP
      December 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      It really depends on what fan the shit hits, how it hits that fan, and what kind of shit it is which car will make the most sense.

      There are variants where a paid off car is the best thing to have. There are variants where the banks are never going to find you because the banks have ceased to exist and ownership is now possession. Either of these may or may not require fleeing and dealing with checkpoints. We may get the need to flee or checkpoints for other reasons. There are times where the loan to buy that HumVee will turn out ok because the banks don’t exist anymore and this thing will protect you and there are times where that loan on a new Honda Civic will be a noose. It just depends on how things play out.

      The problem is there isn’t one good vehicle for all possibilities, but there is one passable for just about all of them, and that’s the traditional full size american sedan or wagon. It can take just enough abuse to get through tough conditions, easy to work on, would be paid off, range can be extended with well the way it always was with these cars, more fuel capacity. Unlike a pickup truck or SUV people/cops/government aren’t likely to see them as something they need and try to take them away. What do they want grandma’s car for? Plus the government already has all of them they need. They blend in unless they are so old as to be rare to see. They are ‘good people’ cars. we’re just going to help a sick/elderly relative to in this difficult time officer…

      It’s not going to be the best at everything or anything, but it will get by.

      • MikePizzo
        December 16, 2013 at 1:58 pm

        BrentP, I agree that ” low profile” is valuable. Would also agree that a traditional, full sized American Sedan or wagon could be a great choice……”assuming” that your bug out run will never require you to go off of an established roadway. But that could be a very dangerous assumption. So I’d sacrifice a small amount of “invisibility” to gain real off road ability.

        For sure, you want to avoid a “road warrior” appearance. The best compromise might be a soccer mom looking, 4 wheel drive, Suburban or Sequoia.

        Yes, Bull Bars are conspicuous. They’re not as likely to be needed as 4WD. But I can think of many real possibilities where they could be “priceless.” A relatively discrete one, that blends with the existing grill as much as possible, may still be worth the extra visibility. Your mileage may vary.

        • BrentP
          December 16, 2013 at 4:35 pm

          If the SHTF in such a way that going off road over rough terrain was the way to go then it probably hit the fan such that there is monitoring from the air, making off roading stick out like a sore thumb.

          Off road to get around the cloverian lemming like masses is a bit different, but not sure how practical it will be since these jam ups will occur where the masses live and everything is built up.

        • michael.white
          December 17, 2013 at 10:30 am

          Mike – “Conspicuous” depends on the area. There are lots of deer here and a truck or SUV with a bull bar stands out less here in rural Texas than a Prius.

          • Eightsouthman
            December 21, 2013 at 6:03 am

            michael, in my part of Tx. “cowcatchers” are almost standard fare because of deer and hogs, big, heavy stuff too. A pickup without one is easily knocked off as a city vehicle.

  7. JdL
    December 16, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    You have an interesting and persuasive rationale for favoring hybrids.

    Could you give a five-second explanation as to why some hybrids can be plugged in and some can’t? Seems as if all should be capable of being charged from electricity generated elsewhere, just as the batteries on a “normal” car are.

    • eric
      December 16, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      Hi Jdl,

      Thanks – and, I’m working on a review of the Ford Fusion Energi – the plug-in version of the hybrid Fusion – which will get into the difference between the standard-issue hybrids and the plug-ins. Hope to have it up by tomorrow morning!

  8. Me2
    December 16, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    My choice, cost being no object (unfortunately in my case it is)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marauder_%28vehicle%29

    I’m going with horses myself. Other than being kind of slow, many advantages over cars.

    Cheap to fuel.
    Low maintenance. (basic blacksmithing and how to shoe a horse )
    Unbeatable off road ability.
    Self replicating (in appropriate pairs)
    Useful pollution.
    Near silent for hunting.
    Worst case, you can eat it.

  9. Fred
    December 16, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Best option might be to revert back to the old saying “Get a horse!”

  10. Hal
    December 16, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    There are also some older mercedes diesel sedans that are built like small tanks and do not need a battery to operate.

  11. BGko
    December 16, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    In the case of an EMP attack, ALL of these vehicles would be rendered inoperable, therefore useless. You need an older vehicle, pre-computer chip, without any electronic systems necessary to run the car. And preferably with off-road capability. My perfect bug-out vehicle would not be a car, but a motorcycle. Preferably similar to an Enduro, with both street and dirt capabilities.

    • BrentP
      December 16, 2013 at 6:22 pm

      Actually experiments show the modern car does quite well with EMP.

      It basically is a UFO type experience… it stops running but once it passes by the car will restart.

      • Jean
        December 17, 2013 at 3:21 pm

        Bret,
        Thanks for the update – I’d thought they were fried, period.
        Guess I didn’t read enogh recent stuff. ;-)

  12. ernie
    December 16, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    There is of course a vehicle that fits multiple of these categories, the trusty 80’s vintage 4WD suburban with a 6.2 diesel and (preferably) a 4 speed. It’s also fairly easy to add big concealed fuel tanks in ‘em. I hear some folks even run red fuel from these concealed tanks, not that I would ever consider breaking any law of course. Running untaxed “off road” or heating fuel would be a serious crime.

  13. PJ
    December 16, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I had a 1997 diesel VW Passat (wagon) and now have a 2013 diesel Passat (sedan). FYI while the EPA mpg figures are about the same between the two, the 2013 delivers 50mpg long term while the ’97 went a couple mpg less. Between the two I would much rather deal with the requirement for urea than the constant plugging of the intake and lower power in the older car. If urea is not avaliable then diesel probably won’t be either, but it is also possible the car can be hacked to run without urea. As to biodiesel I know VW does not have warranty coverage for over 5% biodiesel; but that’s not the same as saying the modern car won’t run with B100.

  14. December 16, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Eric, I’ve own two VW Jetta diesels and there is no urea requirement like in the newer Mercedes diesels.

    • eric
      December 17, 2013 at 6:38 am

      Hi Richard,

      Yup – good call – I should have mentioned this. I hope VW can continue to offer diesels without DEF.

  15. John Fitzgerald
    December 16, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    SHTF, manual or automatic?

    • eric
      December 17, 2013 at 6:37 am

      Hi John,

      Automatic pros:

      Vehicle is operable by more drivers; can be operated more easily by an injured driver.

      Automatic cons:

      More maintenance intensive; vulnerable to failure from overheating.

      Manual pros:

      More control over the vehicle
      Simpler/less vulnerable to heat-induced failure

      Manual cons:

      Vehicle might not be operable in an emergency if driver is injured or cannot drive stick.

      There are probably more of both… it’s early yet!

      • Me2
        December 17, 2013 at 5:07 pm

        Manual pro – Bump starting.

        Long ago, one vehicle my friend had was a Lada Niva 4×4. It had a hand crank as backup. I thought it comparable to to the old sidekick I had, just more rugged and simple.

        • eric
          December 18, 2013 at 7:34 am

          Good one, Me!

          Though it’s worth mentioning – for the benefit of those who may not know – that while you can bump start (and drive) a vehicle this way, it’s not a good idea to keep driving it, if the battery is dead. Because you’ll quickly wear out your alternator – which will work itself into an early grave trying to pour current into a dead battery. There may also be other issues with modern, computer-controlled cars. They do not like voltage spikes!

  16. Bill Jones
    December 16, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    So, I had an interesting drive home from dropping the Heir off at school today. On a 4 lane divided highway I was 30 feet away from passing a Jeep Cherokee when its drivers side front wheel fell off.
    This was exciting as I had to avoid a car that basically had no steering but ultimately made it to the shoulder. It was however not nearly as exciting as the experience of the cars coming the other way when a wheel traveling at about 40 mph bounced over the meridian and aimed at all, any and none of them.

    So, my question is: Other than the wheel bearing, what else has to fail to provide this entertainment?

    • RothbardianamericanHelot
      December 17, 2013 at 1:14 am

      Bill Jones asked, “what else has to fail to provide this entertainment?”

      This comes to mind: some assholes who think it’s funny if they loosen the lug nuts. Or, some vindictive MoFo who does the same. Or, aluminum wheels require re-torquing awhile after they’ve been taken off…. follow up routine maintenance does get ignored by many, especially when time$ are tight. I imagine we’ll see more of this kind of stuff as the years go by.
      Situational awareness and defensive driving are words to live by.

      I’ve heard your story before from friends. Its funny, and bad assed scary, all-in-one.

    • eric
      December 17, 2013 at 6:31 am

      Hi Bill,

      The likely cause was someone who either over-torqued the lug nuts (causing one or more to shear and thereby increasing the load on the remaining studs, causing them to shear off) or under-torqued them… and they simply worked loose enough for the wheel to wobble and snap the studs.

      It happened to me once, many years ago.

  17. VAguy
    December 17, 2013 at 1:26 am

    Mountain Bike – get in shape, silent, EASY to maintain, CHEAP by car standards for even a mid-line racing bike ($1500) and quite quick (a decent rider can average 7-8 mph in rough terrain).

    • eric
      December 17, 2013 at 6:22 am

      A bike is good to have, VAguy!

      Even better, a bike with an engine!

      I keep a small CC dual sport around for fun … and maybe more.

  18. al uhrich
    December 18, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    I read the postings about urea for the newer diesels and it brought to mnd that a few years ago, I had talked with a local farm diesel mechanic and he had mentioned that the 09, 10 and 11 gm diesels wee suppose to use urea, but a lot of the local farmers were either forgetting to fill with urea and were in fact filling their urea tanks with water and they were ” claiming ” that they didn’t have a problem with performace. the mechanic wasn’t sure what the 2012 would be like, but had herad the gm engineers were addressing the problem. Just the Gm products? good question. When I ask the local chevy/gm service manager and diesel mechanic, they both pretty much unloaded on me. All the way from voiding the warrently, to causing damage to the motor. Has anybody else heard anything about this? Just asking? wondering?

    • eric
      December 19, 2013 at 6:59 am

      Hi Al,

      I can’t speak to the GM products but I can tell you that Benz and Audi diesels have “fail-safe” computers (and sensors) that will trigger a shut-down process if the urea tank is allowed to run dry or something other than the specified DEF is used to top it off.

      As far as physical damage to the engine and/or its systems: I don’t know. But I do know the warranty will be voided if one tries to find out. And given these are not inexpensive vehicles, I’d be reluctant to try that experiment myself!

  19. December 20, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    You folks may laugh at my bug out vehicle. It’s a 1982 VW Diesel Westphalia Camper Van. 48 thundering mechanical injection diesel horsepower to move some 3200 pounds of gear. I take it everywhere in the mountains and woods of southern Oregon. (slowly, and smokily when at 7000 ft elevation) It’s dented up, faded ugly orange paint, looks like hell, but is rebuilt and super-reliable. It never attracts attention, but it is loud, unlike the hybrids. 25 mpg on diesel, and minimal electronics. If the EMP hits, the glow plug relay will go, but can be bypassed easily. Then I’ll just have to figure a way to repair the alternator, huh?

    • RothbardianamericanHelot
      December 21, 2013 at 2:35 am

      I wouldn’t laugh at your BOV, Bill Meyer. It’s a tool and it works. How-freaking-ever; out here in the Midwest those vehicles are rare as hens teeth. “faded ugly orange paint … 82 VW Diesel Westphalia Camper Van …” That thing would stick out like a bloody thumb attached to a screamer. ‘Grey man’, it ain’t. Not here, anyway. It might even be a cop magnet, especially if it was loaded with gear up to the windows.
      I imagine you have no intention of coming out this way, But, now you know, if you didn’t already.
      Also, beware parking lots. I see vehicles like that getting rousted by the cops all the time. And, they weren’t All refugees fleeing from Hurricane Katrina. Let me tell you, I learned a lot from those people getting this far north. …But I digress.

    • eric
      December 21, 2013 at 6:59 am

      Hey Bill,

      I love those! Slow they are – but like a cockroach, unkillable. Has yours got the ‘fridge and sink?

      • December 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm

        Yes, Eric, it has the sink and fridge, and the diesel auxillary heater works great. I rebuilt it myself a few years back and put special head studs on the engine which took care of these diesels’ tendency to blow head gaskets. Change the oil, and keep it cool, and it happily lumbers along. I only put about 500 miles a year on it for camping, so it’ll be around for a while. Re RothbardianamericanHelot – In the People’s Republic of Oregon, an old Vanagon marks you as a tree-hugging morally superior NPR/PBS Clover Collectivist, which is oddly enough a LOWER profile than the super patriot pickup with a bull grill and gun rack in the window. I think my german heritage resonates with this vehicle….nothing fancy, power brakes, and nothing else, reliable, and you must DRIVE it.

  20. Clik
    December 21, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Let’s not be too quick to condemn urea diesel fuel additives.

    I’d rather have to add the stuff that treats the exhaust after the engine than have exhaust gases recycled through the engine.

    Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) has prematurely killed many modern EPA mandated diesels.

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