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Old 02-20-2012, 05:20 PM   #61
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It helps to be able to predict fuel costs.

I've taken my truck down to 16-cpm for fuel at current prices, solo, and am comfortable predicting towing at 26-cpm for level terrain (conservatively, this is actually a bit high). Or, that I am at 4-gls/100 miles solo, and 6.5-gls/100 miles towing.

Any TV can be improved for mechanical and rolling efficiency, and the TT ought to be worked over as well. Perfected hitch rigging is your friend as the number of steering corrections per 100-miles is significant analysis data. Trip planning -- for those long days between here & there -- will optimize fuel use, also.

All of this starts with records, and annual average mpg is the key number. One can break out mpg for different types of driving past that. Percentage increases to the average mpg pays cash money. A fuel log is a good start, but it needs to have the numbers collated as well.

If fuel is a limiting factor, then the TV-TT combination was not well-chosen. There are alternatives. Luckily, as an A/S is already aerodynamic -- and weight is far second to mpg concerns versus aero -- it is a "better" TV that could make a difference if fuel costs are feeling prohibitive.

One starts by coming up with a plan:

[1] How long will it be kept? (calendar years)
[2] How many miles will it travel in that time? (calendar year average)
[3] What is the total ownership/operating cost per mile given all line items entered on a spreadsheet?

Search for and download AAA: Your Driving Costs -- 2011 Spreadsheet from .pdf file at linked page bottom.

There is also information at the EDMUNDS site on True Cost of Ownership.

The fixed costs on both vehicles (finance charges, depreciation, maintenance, repairs, taxes, insurance, etc) are all higher than fuel cost for fairly new vehicles. If the cost of fuel is the make-or-break consideration then another approach should be considered as a careful analysis was not done previously.

If my overall cost is 45-cpm and I have lower mpg than you, I am still well ahead if our miles/years of ownerhip are the same but your cost is 87-cpm. Zlee has her cute little combined rig, but my rig is far more "economical" than is hers (even over an extended period) although far larger and heavier. But the way she started has been dead-on correct for low cost. By the same token, BartS probably has me trumped in some ways. We have to separate out the fulltimer from the part-timer or occasional traveller for numbers to make sense. Just comparing TV's is not enlightening in a number of instances.

I went into more detail on a Dodge Cummins-specific forum about this in this post.

Granted, for someone for whom some camping is a sometime thing then the new -- and permanent -- cost of fuel changes the old equation. A pair of finance notes and the cost of fuel IS NOT the main cost of going camping is what is important to remember. A better spec'd pair of vehicles can make for just as much travel as before. And for the TV to be a more economical one to run the solo miles.

I was able to pay cash for both TV & TT. All ownership & op costs have been low short of renovating the TT's (which has been appliances & cosmetic, primarily). No more depreciation on it, and the curve on the truck has flattened considerably (which doesn't much matter as it will be kept for years to come; same for the [next] trailer as it will be a permanent purchase). No gasser truck comes close to the solo mileage, and the towing mileage is 50% better than what many report (even with smaller trailers). Alternately, there are at least a half-dozen other DODGE CTD owners with 28'-34' TT's showing the same kind of mpg.

For a full-timer a full size truck may make sense (and where it has IRS tax deductible miles otherwise), but for a part-timer there are better alternatives for most sizes of TT. (The short answer for What is the best TV has one word: turbodiesel).

The same analysis applies to the TT. Figure it at per night of use versus mpg cost; over a period of anticipated years.

The real problem with higher fuel costs is that everything else becomes more expensive. Everything for which we use money has a fossil fuel cost built in to it. And most of it has had to be transported. So whether it's tires, food, camp fees, services, etc, expect that all of it will rise. One might say, then, that all of this is just a matter of income . . . but the truth is that the availability of food & supply may become more difficult, not just the $ expense. Planning -- making an extended stay boondocker -- is also, potentially, part of "economy". DIY goes a long ways, too.

Time to get out pencil & paper and do some figurin'. Fuel to move the rig is only one consideration, and as it is THE expensive variable it behooves us to factor it at the very beginning (TV & TT spec). It's the other costs that bear close watching.

There is no real "savings" in fewer miles. Just lower out-of-pocket expense. Meanwhile the big costs continue unchanged and the low use of the vehicles just means a higher per mile actual expense over a given time period. Lowered "wear & tear" is not realistic for the same reasons. Just means the value is transferred to the next owner.

Better use of the TV when solo will offset much of the "pain" of towing mpg. A SCANGAUGE or ULTRAGAUGE is an inexpensive and useful tool to get a start. Along with records and analysis.

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Old 02-20-2012, 05:49 PM   #62
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Write to your local congrassman to make it illegal to export oil products overseas also ask them to get ethanol out of the gasoline. Our gas is being sold overseas to the highest bidder and you and I get stuck with higher priced gas as a result. Ethanol costs you about a 10% loss of use from a gallon of gas. So when you burn Ethanol that $4 gallon of gas really costs you $4.40 since you have to burn 10% more to go the same distance.

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Old 02-20-2012, 07:07 PM   #63
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Bring back regulating gasoline.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:09 PM   #64
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Not at all.... Bought it to roll.... not to sit in the garage.....
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:44 PM   #65
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As we are on a fixed income with no GABA for some time, of course, we will curtail the miles towed ... but not necessarily the time spent in the AS.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:36 PM   #66
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Write to your local congrassman to make it illegal to export oil products overseas also ask them to get ethanol out of the gasoline. Our gas is being sold overseas to the highest bidder and you and I get stuck with higher priced gas as a result. Ethanol costs you about a 10% loss of use from a gallon of gas. So when you burn Ethanol that $4 gallon of gas really costs you $4.40 since you have to burn 10% more to go the same distance.

Perry
You mean you want to restrict free enterprise (as if there were such a thing) and expect the oil companies to do something for all the subsidies they receive and the taxes they don't pay? Horrors!

The fact of the matter is that the cheap oil is going, going gone. Production versus reserves is the "lie" being pushed around these days. The "reserves" are meaningless, worldwide (the Saudi's obviously lying about theirs; not to mention the bs here at home), production is all that matters. And if they ain't no more to be produced (even at $121/barrel) that ought to speak louder than anything else.

The price goes up . . the economy falters. Price falls a bit. Economy resumes, foot-dragging. Price goes back up. Economy stumbles some more, worse now. And on it goes. The trend is not good. And it's here to stay.

Back to TV-TT economy . . . .

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Old 02-20-2012, 10:04 PM   #67
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Rednax

As you know the significant fixed cost is depreciation when you buy a new or next to new TV. I was plesantly surprised when I looked at the depreciation for my 08 Tundra- 2wd, SR5 package, double cab, 5.7L, tow package with mirrors. I paid 25k for this truck out the door and with 37k miles, the truck is still valued at 23.3k (nada retail). This means that I have only lost about $2,000 in depreciation or 5 cpm. Fuel costs are 19 cpm solo and 29 cpm with the trailer. Most of my driving is solo (unfortunately), so even if you add in another $2,000-$3,000 for taxes, insurance and licensing, the total cost is still going to be in the area of 30 -35 cpm. To be fair, my driving costs will go up some as I am about ready to install new tires and will need to do some repairs as the milage goes up, but so far this has been a real economical truck. I bought this truck with the idea of driving it for at least 300k miles. I drive pretty gently and my 66 TW is pretty light, so I don't expect major expenditures for repairs later on, but we will see.

The original question asked can be tough because you have to dig deeper into the pocket for gas money and nobody likes to do this, me included. However when we look at the reason we have the truck and the Airstream, we can't just sit at home. So we have to do what we have to do, travel and camp, and pay whatever the gas bill requires. Just be thankful we are not traveling in Europe or New Zeeland.

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Old 02-21-2012, 06:23 AM   #68
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Fuel Prices

We live in Northern VT. During an early January snow storm, we made all our major travel plans for the year, and booked our campsites, prior to all this buzz about fuel prices. We'll do spring break in St. Augustine, FL in mid April - summer travel to Rocky Mountain National, CO, Grand Tetons, WY, and Yellowstone. The only thing that could slow us down is fuel rationing, like the early 1970s. Other than that... damn the torpedos, full speed ahead. Life is meant to be lived. Carpe Diem!!!
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:27 AM   #69
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Buy something that is already depreciated. My $7000 Excursion is not going to depreciate that much. I don't have to drive it. I do have to pay insurance on it. If I could afford to buy a new trailer for $80,000 and a tow vehicle for $50,000 then I would not care how much gas cost. Since my TV and trailer cost less than a new TV alone, then gas prices are a BIG part of the equation.

Perry

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Originally Posted by TouringDan View Post
Rednax

As you know the significant fixed cost is depreciation when you buy a new or next to new TV. I was plesantly surprised when I looked at the depreciation for my 08 Tundra- 2wd, SR5 package, double cab, 5.7L, tow package with mirrors. I paid 25k for this truck out the door and with 37k miles, the truck is still valued at 23.3k (nada retail). This means that I have only lost about $2,000 in depreciation or 5 cpm. Fuel costs are 19 cpm solo and 29 cpm with the trailer. Most of my driving is solo (unfortunately), so even if you add in another $2,000-$3,000 for taxes, insurance and licensing, the total cost is still going to be in the area of 30 -35 cpm. To be fair, my driving costs will go up some as I am about ready to install new tires and will need to do some repairs as the milage goes up, but so far this has been a real economical truck. I bought this truck with the idea of driving it for at least 300k miles. I drive pretty gently and my 66 TW is pretty light, so I don't expect major expenditures for repairs later on, but we will see.

The original question asked can be tough because you have to dig deeper into the pocket for gas money and nobody likes to do this, me included. However when we look at the reason we have the truck and the Airstream, we can't just sit at home. So we have to do what we have to do, travel and camp, and pay whatever the gas bill requires. Just be thankful we are not traveling in Europe or New Zeeland.

Dan
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:00 AM   #70
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Rednax

As you know the significant fixed cost is depreciation when you buy a new or next to new TV. I was plesantly surprised when I looked at the depreciation for my 08 Tundra- 2wd, SR5 package, double cab, 5.7L, tow package with mirrors. I paid 25k for this truck out the door and with 37k miles, the truck is still valued at 23.3k (nada retail). This means that I have only lost about $2,000 in depreciation or 5 cpm. Fuel costs are 19 cpm solo and 29 cpm with the trailer. Most of my driving is solo (unfortunately), so even if you add in another $2,000-$3,000 for taxes, insurance and licensing, the total cost is still going to be in the area of 30 -35 cpm. To be fair, my driving costs will go up some as I am about ready to install new tires and will need to do some repairs as the milage goes up, but so far this has been a real economical truck. I bought this truck with the idea of driving it for at least 300k miles. I drive pretty gently and my 66 TW is pretty light, so I don't expect major expenditures for repairs later on, but we will see.

The original question asked can be tough because you have to dig deeper into the pocket for gas money and nobody likes to do this, me included. However when we look at the reason we have the truck and the Airstream, we can't just sit at home. So we have to do what we have to do, travel and camp, and pay whatever the gas bill requires. Just be thankful we are not traveling in Europe or New Zeeland.

Dan
So long as we remember that components wear out (alternators, water pumps, suspension, steering, etc) and that it must be projected into the cost analysis. Even rough figures suffice.

On mine, at 8-years and 180k I am exactly at the half-way point. Therefore, not only the above items ought to be replaced (even without their failure) as longevity, reliability and low cpm means that "they" have served . . time to be sure that the next 180k/8-years is just as trouble-free.

So, yes, labor/parts/tools/supplies have to be factored in with purchase price, insurance, depreciation, etc.

The usual fate of vehicles is to be sold by about 7-8 years and the second/third owners run them into the ground. Not economical.

IOW, if I treat the TV in the way I treat the TT -- with respect, and for permanence -- then any variable costs (such as fuel) come waaay down in true cost. As we do on this forum, the use of vehicle enthusiast forums can spot trends or components on a particular vehicle to adjust maintenance plus R&R schedules.

I can travel more because I have spent less, overall, per mile and per night for a given budget. In fact, I can travel "free" for years with careful work in this way.

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Old 02-23-2012, 10:18 AM   #71
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Zlee has her cute little combined rig, but my rig is far more "economical" than is hers (even over an extended period) although far larger and heavier.
Oooo. No one told me I'd have to rate cuteness relative to economical! Hmmmmm.
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Old 02-23-2012, 10:22 AM   #72
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My combined rig is right at the state maximum of 65'. No one would ever call it "cute", comparably.

Vehicle sizes are not determinants of "economy" when all costs are factored. The comparisons become labored due to number of pax, full versus part-time, used versus new, DIY versus all shop labor, etc.

Why time/miles/nights is important as the first step. These are the determinants of the rig itself. "Fuel economy" is relative, then. Only then.

My T/M/N cost is lower than Zlee's but probably not as low as BartS (if our nights of use were comparable). The comparisons are too rough to really make sense of without going into details. They aren't true comparisons therefore.

Those details have to fit use first and foremost.

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Old 02-23-2012, 11:38 AM   #73
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My wife and I travelled to Florida for a couple of months in our 1983 A/S turbo diesel 31' and we travelled approx 3200 miles and were really surprised at the mpg which was 19.3 the only reason I keep them is it tells me how well my unit is operating.We are retired living on a fixed income, and if I have to worry about the price of diesel, I should never have bought it in the first place and this has been our thinking our whole live 75 and married 54 years and still travelling
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Old 02-23-2012, 11:41 AM   #74
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I have circumstances in life preventing heavy use of trailer (aging parent) so fuel economy is not an issue. The sunk cost of the trailer and storage are my big expenses.

Perhaps the biggest effect of high fuel prices will be the delay or non purchase of my next RV. I have thought of the idea of motorhome, but $100K+ is a lot to spend on a transportation mode which may be using gas between five and ten dollars a gallon.

If thats the case, the Airstream and I will hang in there for a while. Half the depreciation has already occurred, the cost of ownership going forward is relatively low.
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Old 02-24-2012, 11:37 AM   #75
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On mine, at 8-years and 180k I am exactly at the half-way point. Therefore, not only the above items ought to be replaced (even without their failure) as longevity, reliability and low cpm means that "they" have served . . time to be sure that the next 180k/8-years is just as trouble-free.

.
Rednax

You make a very valid point. So what items have you replaced or are you going to replace before they fail? That to me is a tough step to take unless you have a lot of data as a basis for premature or regular failure at a certain mileage. For example, I have a 2002 BMW 3 series that is known to have a weak link regarding the water pump and radiator. The BMW car club tech guru says to replace both at 60k miles. My car now has 195k miles and mine has not failed yet. However, I have purchased a new water pump, radiater and other associated parts to make the replacement before it fails. Kind of like an insurance policy. I figure that I am running on borrowed time. Also if if fails and I don't notice it right away I may ruin the motor. I could be in the middle of West Virginia with no help, cell phone service or wrecker close by. What I am doing is a no brainer, but I will be hard pressed to replace the alternator,starter motor, suspension components or steering components untill they fail or indicate eminant failure is near. I agree to replace components where there is premature or regular failure data associated with mileage, but if we have no data then I say drive it until the part fails or failure is eminant.

Dan
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:18 PM   #76
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Determining dollar value, or the relative value of the dollar from one year to the next is the ultimate tweakable statistic.

It all depends on what indicator is used.

In 1908 the Model T was $850.

Using CPI method that's $21,000
GDP deflator it's $15,000
'Consumer Bundle' puts it at $44,000
'Unskilled Wage' puts it at $87,000
'Manufacturing Compensation' values it at $140,000
GDP per capita is $118,000

IMHO, it's all academic

I just use the good 'ol MISERY INDEX
Joe,

Don't forget to figure in the "fun factor".

It goes a long way towards mitigating the "misery index"

Bob
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:18 PM   #77
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Replacing things before they fail is a hard choice. Few people want to spend the money to replace something that seems to work—"if it ain't broke, don't fix it". It can be cheaper than getting stuck somewhere, possibly relying on a bad mechanic with very high prices, paying exorbitant rates for a tow, and blocking a busy highway at rush hour.

I have replaced bad tires before they wear out with better ones. I upgrade some things to get a better result. I look it as informed maintenance. But it is hard to predict when something is about ready to go and few of us have Rednax's knowledge of mechanics to know when to act. I did learn years ago that most car parts tell you when they are wearing out if you are willing to listen, but learning what they are saying takes some attentiveness and knowledge. It is easier to ignore the signs and hope for the best even if you are challenging reality.

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Old 02-24-2012, 06:59 PM   #78
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Rednax

You make a very valid point. So what items have you replaced or are you going to replace before they fail? That to me is a tough step to take unless you have a lot of data as a basis for premature or regular failure at a certain mileage. For example, I have a 2002 BMW 3 series that is known to have a weak link regarding the water pump and radiator. The BMW car club tech guru says to replace both at 60k miles. My car now has 195k miles and mine has not failed yet. However, I have purchased a new water pump, radiater and other associated parts to make the replacement before it fails. Kind of like an insurance policy. I figure that I am running on borrowed time. Also if if fails and I don't notice it right away I may ruin the motor. I could be in the middle of West Virginia with no help, cell phone service or wrecker close by. What I am doing is a no brainer, but I will be hard pressed to replace the alternator,starter motor, suspension components or steering components untill they fail or indicate eminant failure is near. I agree to replace components where there is premature or regular failure data associated with mileage, but if we have no data then I say drive it until the part fails or failure is eminant.

Dan
As Gene points out I have made a study not only of my truck and it's potential problems, but have a pretty fair amount of experience in vehicle maintenance/repair. My own, and in business. ROBERTCROSS and some others know a good deal more than me (depth is great around here). I have no formal training (am self-taught, but willing to read and ask).

The simplest understanding is best: Be rigorous about changing all fluids, filters, belts, hoses and associated fasteners. Ahead of schedule, somewhat. Time is as important as miles. (And it is unlikely one will ever do this set of jobs too often, relatively). Same for tires & brakes (safety-related).

"That to me is a tough step to take unless you have a lot of data as a basis for premature or regular failure at a certain mileage".

No, sir, it's actually easy. On nearly any vehlcle. How long will it be kept in service and what is the halfway point in time and miles?

What I've learned is direct: Treat each system as a whole. Use only factory parts. I want no surprises. Do It Once And Do It Right.

Start with safety-related. When I do the brakes in the next year or so (well ahead of actual need) I will, literally, have replaced every single item in that system short of the brake pedal itself (but it will have a new pad). This is only a slight exaggeration. I have homework to do. But I never want to think about the brake system again. A pad replacement is not "having to think about the system", IOW. Same for seat belts (and seat cushions . . you get tired or aching, well . . . . )

With the FSM (Field Service Manual; the generic name for the factory service book as used by dealers and independents) I can study ahead of time to be sure I have all that is necessary on the jobs I do, as well as doubling the estimated hourly work. Short version: start early. Done when done.

Ideally, I have everything ready as of Friday because on Monday I have to be back at work. So, with a Saturday morning start (and hopefully no more than one/two runs to the dealer or parts store) I can work without frustration bothering me; i.e. I can quit and do something else awhile.

While I am doing this work I also have a supply of CASTROL Super Clean and rags/brushes to get those areas I normally can't keep clean. This slows me down, but as the motor bay is kept clean otherwise (to spot problems) this last bit satisfies me that I have done what I can to make it easy for a mechanic. I also run a tap down fastener holes and use a thread file on fasteners that aren't replaced. Any recommended thread dressing is also applied. Etc. Never go cheap on supplies or pass up an opportunity to clean/paint.

On the other hand the truck is due for a motor valve adjustment, and, while again this isn't hard, I don't want to buy a barring tool for one/two uses. I also want to find a good Cummins diesel mechanic to talk with about the vehicle. This is a cheap service (book maintenance), but a very expensive motor. As anything ages we want some rapport happenin' with a reputable shop.

So, sometimes it's work better done by me, (expense kinda irrelevant as my time is free), and sometimes I want a man with experience to have a look at what may or may not be going on with my vehicle. The second set of eyes is invaluable to longest life, IMO.

And there is plenty of grunt work no one wants to do. Best to have the owner do as much as possible and then have shop check over or tow it to them for completion. Kinda like doing the long wire pulls in the attic ahead of the electrician . . but he does all junctions/connections. Same with fluid analysis. Seems expensive or a pain to trend via analysis (www.dysonanalysis.com), but it catches problems. Your wallet will live through the strain.

I prefer to buy fuel/batteries/inspections/brake work from an independent fuel retailer. The third set of eyes. The business card I staple together to the towing service he uses. Something goes wrong I want it at his location, not an unknown-to-me facility.

At a minimum I want about four [4] services per year by any one of a few shops (not including tires where I may be in/out 7-8 times per year). I highly value qualified recommendations. The Internet makes this easier than before. And the bigger the metro area, the more likely one can find the truly expert. (I search all kinds of boards for references).

What is to be replaced ahead of time is vehicle dependent. Ball joints, clutch & hydraulics, steering rack, suspension/body bushings (factory has hydraulic body mounts versus rubber biscuits now); maybe alternator/starter (or just rebuilt) etc, are some examples on mine. I may upgrade to a one-piece driveshaft, for instance (as the factory has done on later models). I already plan to change my rear gearset from 3.73 to a 3.42 ratio. Etc. Where I can, I try to combine work. The cooling system is due, so I'll also replace the harmonic balancer (another upgraded factory part) as well as the accessory drive belt and tensioner.

Overall, it's not what I do that's important. It's how I choose to apportion the work out to others. So, some experience of what one can do ones self is the best start. A calendar with services per time & miles linked to vehicle fuel consumption/miles is the start. And then a budget.

"I agree to replace components where there is premature or regular failure data associated with mileage, but if we have no data then I say drive it until the part fails or failure is imminent."

No, no, absolutely not. I want to choose when to take the vehicle out of service. I am not looking to run it into the ground. I want it as reliable as when new, and able to do the same work as when new. The internet allows me to poll others about time/miles with some fair amount of breadth, and my questions at dealers, shops and elsewhere can give me an idea of what to focus on.

Remember that when something wears out and fails that this has a deleterious effect not only on that system, but directly and indirectly on all other systems. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to avoid this: Avoid component and system failures.

This is little different than taking a trailer with good integrity and replacing plumbing, electrical and all appliances. Removing and replacing with new the suspension, brakes and hitch details. Etc. It may be a 1983 model, but I expect it to be on the road in 2032. Window seals, not just window operators. I want a "new vehicle" in the most basic sense. At all times and in all places.

Hope this helps.

.
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Old 02-25-2012, 09:12 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by REDNAX View Post

"I agree to replace components where there is premature or regular failure data associated with mileage, but if we have no data then I say drive it until the part fails or failure is imminent."

No, no, absolutely not. I want to choose when to take the vehicle out of service. I am not looking to run it into the ground. I want it as reliable as when new, and able to do the same work as when new. The internet allows me to poll others about time/miles with some fair amount of breadth, and my questions at dealers, shops and elsewhere can give me an idea of what to focus on.
Rednax

I said that if I have no data then I say drive it until the part fails... This is not the same as running it into the ground. My TV only has 37k on it now, where in another 100k miles there will be lots of data with Tundras that have over 100k miles and I will search out what kind of failures are being experienced by the high mileage Tundra owners.

I am curious what brake parts you are going to replace besides pads and the brake fluid. I replaced the pads and fluid recently in my BMW. I think that it would be overkill to replace the master cylinder and calipers unless experience dictates that this may be a problem in the second half of life. My BMW has 195k on it and I intend not to ever sell it; although I may retire it and drive it much less often. However I don't want to spend money to replace parts that may not ever fail especially if it is not one of our traveling vehicles.

Could you please send me a link to your recommended guide for calculating the cost per mile for vehicle operation.

Thanks, Dan
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Old 02-26-2012, 06:59 AM   #80
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TWIMC.....

I must admit that my maintenance procedure's are not quite as precise as Reds'.

I depend on twice a year comprehensive vehicle inspections, the the more thorough of which coincide's with the NYS safety inspection.

My recommendation for those without the DIY gene….follow the manufacturer's maint schedule. A good deal of time, effort and resources went into it's creation.

Plus… If your vehicle's still under warranty a good service history gives the dealership much more leeway in taking care of problems that may show up after your warranty has expired.

Pay attention to what your vehicle is telling you.

If it doesn't feel, sound, or perform right…. sump'ns rong.

One of the biggest problems in any service dept is interpreting the customer's complaint, whenever I saw, NPF written on a repair order red flags went up and an extended road test was in order.

Whomever the primary operator is, will be the one most attuned to any problems, regardless of gender.

(Whether it's your wife or not.)

Ask me how I know.

Bob
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