Short trips are hard on the car. Lengthen trips?

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51
Location
Toronto Ontario Canada
Often heard that short trips are hard on the car, and long trips especially at highway speeds are easy. My car is mostly city driven, with 4 x 2mile trips daily, this fits into the short trip category and can be considered severe service. Hypothetically the trips can be made "less hard", or easy, by driving extra 5miles, or even better, taking it to the highway for extra 50miles. By now we should see the flaw in the logic. I am trying to answer these questions: - Is it worthwhile to lengthen the trip to get it to optimal operating condition? - What's the sweet spot? Battery will be more fully charged and can last longer. What other components are better off? - Battery: better - Starter: no change - Engine oil, other fluids: maybe - Alternator: worse, more wear - Brake: worse, more wear - Tire: worse, more wear - Gas: worse, more consumption - Insurance: worse, higher chance of accident - Time: worse, more time - Environment: worse, more pollution - Other people: worse, more congestion - ?
 
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5,763
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Da Swamp
Since I purchased the Regal in January '14, I've been driving a slightly longer route to work. It involves several more miles at highway speed and fewer lights, and is a lot more fun. However, the minimum distance between my home and work is 9 miles, so 3 extra is no big deal. If I lived only 2 miles away from work, you're right, there'd be no point in driving 10-12 miles extra. I'd walk or bike it in good weather. You could always drive out to breakfast on Sunday morning a couple times a month -- a 25-30 mile round trip? Any good diners within 15 miles of you?
 
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NEUS
When evaluating driving styles, I don't compare 2 mile city trips to 50 mile highway trips. Comparing 5,000 miles of stop-and-go to 5,000 miles of highway cruising will lead you to the reasoning behind severe service. The responsible thing to do is drive the shortest time and distance within reason. 2 miles in a gridlock or 2.5 miles to bypass that and keep moving makes for an easy decision.
 
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218
Location
Florida
I'm a believer that you can overcome your 4x 2-mile short trip cycles easily by simply changing your oil every 4 months in your case, (instead of maybe 12 months if it only cruised steady most days for more than 20 minutes). Then you don't have to change your habits. Its not worth it. Nothing else on your car cares about short trips. Your transmission actually likes it because its cooler.
 
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10,146
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Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Best option. Trade the car in on an electric vehicle. If that's not going to happen the main point to understand is that short trips are much more of an issue in the winter months than during the hottest days of summer. So don't bother trying to change your driving behavour now but during the winter the key is getting the oil up to temperature every time the engine is started. So with that in mind what I do is avoid driving at all on certain days particularly the coldest and snowyist, but when I must drive I also take run as many errands as possible but I don't think driving just for the he sake of driving makes any sence. You haven't said what car yo have but if a daily very short commute is unavoidable in winter I'd likely run a 0W-20 oil like TGMO and change it at 6 months intervals.
 

Nick1994

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Phoenix, AZ
A lot of it is people are worried about fuel dilution. As if half your crankcase is becoming full of fuel and idling for more than a couple minutes is just terrible. There's people out there who get the cheapo oil change from jiffy lube every 8-10k miles, do short trips and the car lasts 200k+. I think we over-think a lot of things on here.
 
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Middlesex County CT
Quote:
You haven't said what car yo have but if a daily very short commute is unavoidable in winter I'd likely run a 0W-20 oil like TGMO and change it at 6 months intervals.
Or according the the mfg guidelines (timewise) if still under warranty.
 
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2,408
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CA
As said earlier have to compare apples to apples which is the utility to you. Meaning whether it is worse at 6months with 2000miles on the clock vs 6months with 5000miles on the clock. I think the lower mileage still is better even if they are all short trips. How different is it from just sitting in the garage. As far as the question of when to take A useless long trip interval for maintenance purposes? I think even as far apart as every month is fine. Dont have to do it every day, or even every week.
 
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max88

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Messages
51
Location
Toronto Ontario Canada
2009 Civic DX-G auto, with oil life monitor. 51,000KM (31,000 miles) Planned to keep car for at least 5 more years. Since this is BITOG, here's OC relation information: Owner's manual specs 5W20 conventional or synthetic. OLM is calibrated for conventional. Calls for OC when OLM is at 0%, or 1 year has passed since last OC, whichever comes first. Filter change every second OC. OC had been done religiously every 5~7 months, even when OLM has at least 30% remaining. Oil has been conventional at dealer, Midas, independent garage before I knew BITOG. Now I DIY OC, with synthetic Quaker State Ultra Durability, with Purolator Synthetic filter. The coming OC will be Nov this year, will follow long OCI at 12 months, on FRAM Ultra filter. It's driven more than the 4 x 2mile daily trips. It has longer trips, and occasionally highway trips. I am trying to establish a baseline, and see is there is alternative or addition that can improve it.
 
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max88

Thread starter
Messages
51
Location
Toronto Ontario Canada
Originally Posted By: Benzadmiral
Since I purchased the Regal in January '14, I've been driving a slightly longer route to work. It involves several more miles at highway speed and fewer lights, and is a lot more fun. However, the minimum distance between my home and work is 9 miles, so 3 extra is no big deal. If I lived only 2 miles away from work, you're right, there'd be no point in driving 10-12 miles extra. I'd walk or bike it in good weather. You could always drive out to breakfast on Sunday morning a couple times a month -- a 25-30 mile round trip? Any good diners within 15 miles of you?
12 HW miles is an alternative, less evil than 9 miles stop and go.
 

max88

Thread starter
Messages
51
Location
Toronto Ontario Canada
Originally Posted By: Bandito440
When evaluating driving styles, I don't compare 2 mile city trips to 50 mile highway trips. Comparing 5,000 miles of stop-and-go to 5,000 miles of highway cruising will lead you to the reasoning behind severe service. The responsible thing to do is drive the shortest time and distance within reason. 2 miles in a gridlock or 2.5 miles to bypass that and keep moving makes for an easy decision.
I am trying to see if additional distance actually improves baseline, which I doubt.
 

max88

Thread starter
Messages
51
Location
Toronto Ontario Canada
Originally Posted By: ElastoHydro
...[snip] Then you don't have to change your habits. Its not worth it. Nothing else on your car cares about short trips. Your transmission actually likes it because its cooler.
This is what I thought. Adding more distance is not worth it.
Originally Posted By: CATERHAM
Best option. Trade the car in on an electric vehicle. If that's not going to happen the main point to understand is that short trips are much more of an issue in the winter months than during the hottest days of summer. So don't bother trying to change your driving behavour now but during the winter the key is getting the oil up to temperature every time the engine is started. So with that in mind what I do is avoid driving at all on certain days particularly the coldest and snowyist, but when I must drive I also take run as many errands as possible but I don't think driving just for the he sake of driving makes any sence. You haven't said what car yo have but if a daily very short commute is unavoidable in winter I'd likely run a 0W-20 oil like TGMO and change it at 6 months intervals.
Electric is not an option, either too expensive or range is too short for occasional out of town trips. Hybrid has its own drawback, mainly total cost of ownership, given how little we drive. It is the winter months that we need the car the most, and of course it is hardest on the car. Granted it's parked underground, cold starting has never been a problem, since new.
 

max88

Thread starter
Messages
51
Location
Toronto Ontario Canada
Originally Posted By: raytseng
As said earlier have to compare apples to apples which is the utility to you. Meaning whether it is worse at 6months with 2000miles on the clock vs 6months with 5000miles on the clock. I think the lower mileage still is better even if they are all short trips. How different is it from just sitting in the garage. As far as the question of when to take A useless long trip interval for maintenance purposes? I think even as far apart as every month is fine. Dont have to do it every day, or even every week.
Exactly! Taking additional 3000miles makes no sense.
 
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1,464
Location
Gulf Coast, MS
Well short trips don't give a car time to warm up. They run rich. This causes carbon (longer trips burn off the carbon shot trips don't). Stop and go traffic is hard on a engine. Constantly going up to 2.5-3k rpm every few mins. Compared to highway driving at 70mph at a constant 2k rpm. Puts a lot more strain on a engine to get it up to speed then to keep it at speed. While running rich it gives the car longer to get gasoline in the oil which isn't good. Also gives the car less time to burn off moisture. Going at a constant speed on the highway will lead to significantly less wear per mile compare to city driving. Tires receive less wear while at a constant speed compared to stop and go. Driving with others on the highway is safer then driving with others in stop and go traffic. In traffic people are more erratic and less predicable. Cars get worst mileage in sit in stop and go since it take more fuel getting up to speed then maintaining. 19mpg city 28-32 highway. For environmental impact please look at my last response less gas burnt = less by product As for alternator stress is minimal if anything the car will be running either way.
 
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36,461
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ME
You've got two things going on: fuel and moisture in your oil and moisture in your exhaust pipes. Exhaust is stainless now for emissions warranty reasons and lasts tons longer than before. Back when they had leaded gas the exhaust was corrosive and people were always doing pipes every other year. Fuel and moisture will "boil off" at lower temps than operating temp, it just takes longer. Moisture isn't so bad by itself; in the old days it reacted with the sulfur in the fuel and made sufuric acid! Yet in the last decade they've taken most of the sulfur out. So you're relying on old info on "why's it so bad". And gas is expensive as are tires and other wear parts. Going for a blast exclusively to do your car a favor will cost you more than it saves. But if you want to use it as an excuse to get dinner the next town over, good for you! Cars are appliances to serve you. I idle to warm mine up in the winter because I work hard to make money to get slightly more gas and change the oil slightly more often. It's rusting out around the engine anyway, so pat on the back for my plan. wink
 

max88

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51
Location
Toronto Ontario Canada
Originally Posted By: 3800Series
Well short trips don't give a car time to warm up. They run rich. This causes carbon (longer trips burn off the carbon shot trips don't). Stop and go traffic is hard on a engine. Constantly going up to 2.5-3k rpm every few mins. Compared to highway driving at 70mph at a constant 2k rpm. Puts a lot more strain on a engine to get it up to speed then to keep it at speed. ...[snip]
Agree with all of above. However that did not address my question: should I drive a bit longer to make it "less hard" on average, but overall not worthwhile? It's not like I live by the highway, get on it, drive 4 miles, then turn around, come back home, and call it a day. I still have to drive 4 x 2mile trips.
 
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max88

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Messages
51
Location
Toronto Ontario Canada
Originally Posted By: eljefino
You've got two things going on: fuel and moisture in your oil and moisture in your exhaust pipes. [snip] Cars are appliances to serve you. I idle to warm mine up in the winter because I work hard to make money to get slightly more gas and change the oil slightly more often. It's rusting out around the engine anyway, so pat on the back for my plan. wink
Yup, they serve me, not the other way around. Just trying to improve baseline: lower total cost of ownership and operation.
 
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9,783
Location
Saskatoon canada
Originally Posted By: max88
Originally Posted By: 3800Series
Well short trips don't give a car time to warm up. They run rich. This causes carbon (longer trips burn off the carbon shot trips don't). Stop and go traffic is hard on a engine. Constantly going up to 2.5-3k rpm every few mins. Compared to highway driving at 70mph at a constant 2k rpm. Puts a lot more strain on a engine to get it up to speed then to keep it at speed. ...[snip]
Agree with all of above. However that did not address my question: should I drive a bit longer to make it "less hard" on average, but overall not worthwhile? It's not like I live by the highway, get on it, drive 4 miles, then turn around, come back home, and call it a day. I still have to drive 4 x 2mile trips.
Driving extra miles doesn't makes sense. Just change the oil sooner.
 
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5,515
Location
Florida
X2 on not going out of your way for the sake of the car. That's just silly and I love cars. Knowing what you know, simply try to take the occasional longer trip if possible so get the engine, tranny and other components up to temp. Once fully warmed up after a good 15-20 drive, I suggest opening up the throttle and allow the engine to spin to redline to build up lots of heat and pressure inside the cylinders, exhaust, etc and burn off whatever Carbon has managed to stick to the valves, etc.
 
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