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Why do old cars handle short journeys vs 1 big journey better?

Why do old cars handle short journeys vs 1 big journey better?

Clintman

Some things to know: 1. Most people don't know anything about cars (specifically about these folk wisdom types of things), and are just repeating things their uncles and grandmas and friends say about cars. 2. "Old" when referring to cars doesn't say much. They've been around over century. What's "old" in this instance? 2005? 1965? And for that matter, what's a long or short journey? 3. It's not about "handling a journey," but reliability. If you're driving a car with questionable reliability, you'd rather be stranded at the grocery store 5 miles from your home, rather than the middle of Murdercultdeath Arkansas, you know?


Marshall_Lawson

Hey now, I have a few cousins in Murdercultdeath, they're nice folks. edit: Don't even get me started about the neighboring town of Killgrave though, that place is a real shithole.


reignoferror00

I passed through Killgrave. It looked nice to me, but maybe the nice parts were all on the main street; they may have covered up and buried their problems nearby.


queencityrangers

So if you’re from Killgrave you’d rather be stranded in Murdercultdeath than close to home. It’s all relative!


LEIFey

Heat thresholds, gas mileage, comfort, etc. Cars are tools and tools are often specialized for different tasks. Also, there's a huge difference between lots of short trips and one long trip. Just go outside and run 100 yards once a day; not too bad right? Now go outside and run 100 miles at once. Not as easy, right?


J-Rag-

You're comparing people doing something we aren't designed to do, to cars doing something we aren't designed to do. Cars run the most efficient with lease amount of strain on the freeways at stable speeds.


LEIFey

I won't say people were designed for anything, but we are mechanically the greatest distance runners on earth. And it's still easier to run shorter distances than longer distances. OP's question was regarding older cars though; an older car may not be as efficient with gas mileage and may have components that are more prone to failure due to heat and simply being worn out. Stable speeds are certainly better than unstable speeds, but slower speeds are also better than higher speeds in terms of sheer strain.


queencityrangers

My personal belief: Long journeys can just seem worse because there’s more time for things to go wrong. Get one problem across a 100 2 mile trips or one 200 mile trip you impact 100% of the long trips vs 1% of the short trips


Rxton

They are mainly thinking that if it breaks down local, it's easy to deal with. If it breaks down hundreds of miles from home, it's a much bigger hassle.


SharadHett

This. I know it is okay to drive around town but I don’t trust it on the highway because the tires are old and so are all the belts. If you breakdown in town it just poopoos out. On the highway at 80 mph you could be looking at a hospital bill.


Rxton

And a tow to an unfamiliar mechanic where you might be just a big dollar sign versus a friend helping you fix it.


azuth89

Most engines, even old ones, are happier cruising at a stable RPM for a long time. It's why you hear about things like "yeah but it's mostly highway miles". There are some thresholds for heat that can build up and things of that sort, but even by the 60's we were quite good at letting a car handle a highway cruise without overheating. What they REALLY mean by "it'll handle a short trip" Is that something is already malfunctioning which gets worse the longer the motor runs OR they know know it's an old and/or ill maintained car with a high risk of something failing and while that might not be a big deal in their neighborhood they're not willing to risk it in the middle of the desert road tripping to vegas. That and maybe just some human elements like "hey this sentra is uncomfortable as hell if you sit in it for more than half an hour"


J-Rag-

I've never understood that. If you can drove 1000 miles a month to work and around town without an issue, you can handle a 1000 mile road trip. A car is going to be more efficient on longer highway trips. Around the city you'll have a lot of stopping and starting, less air going over the engine and it'll be working just as much with all the speed changes. Freeway, you're just keeping it at a constant speed and constant RPMs with more airflow going over the engine. So if your car can't handle a longer trip, you shouldn't be driving it around town either.


BergenBuddha

Probably some kind of fluid leaks. Or, if really old, they could have a manual transmission and brakes and steering. That's a lot of work.


Marshall_Lawson

A long trip with manual transmission you're gonna be in top gear most of the time anyway. But without power steering and brakes, that's a *really* old car and you'd probably only do a long distance trip in a car like that if you were a classic car enthusiast with some fundamental mechanic skills.


aiu_killer_tofu

I'm not certain I'm understanding your question correctly, but I think what you're saying is that people aren't willing to drive older cars as far as a newer one? I have two cars: 2017 Toyota Rav4 and a 2002 Mazda Miata. I'd definitely choose the Rav4 for a road trip over the Miata if I was just trying to get from A to B. It's just more comfortable to drive for long lengths of time. In the automotive world, reduction in "NVH" (noise, vibration, and harshness) is a significant factor in the development of new models. As time has gone on, cars are quieter, smoother, and generally better to drive. That, plus the fact that newer cars are generally better equipped will mean a long trip will feel better in a newer vehicle than an old one. That goes for safety equipment too. Someone might trust an old muscle car with drum brakes around town, but wouldn't take it on a highway because they don't stop the car fast enough for their comfort. Then there's the actual age factor. I personally would trust my Miata on any length of trip because I know it's maintained well, but older cars are more likely to have worn or aged components. People often replace things like fluids or new brakes/tires, but the rubber of hoses wears out with time which can lead to a mechanical failure. Those things aren't likely to be replaced by most owners and increase the risk as time goes on. Or things like seat cushions get less plush with age, making things less comfortable. The older the car, assuming it hasn't been restored, will be less reliable for these reasons as compared to a newer vehicle. The older you go, the more likely things are to fail. You might be okay driving an all original 50 year old car around town where you have assitance nearby in case of failure, but not across the country.


slwrthnu_again

When someone says this they mean there car is shit. You take it on short trips because you are afraid of it breaking down far away from home where you will have a large tow bill, not be able to fix it themselves because they are away from home, etc. Short trips actually cause more wear on cars then a long trip of the same amount of mileage. It has nothing to do with a car being old. My car is old to most people (20 years), I would drive it across the United States tomorrow if I needed to (after an oil change cause it would need one on the trip). If you take care of an old car it can be just as reliable as it is new. It will take more work because you are dealing with a lot of wear parts that the average person that drives new cars never thinks of cause they don’t own cars that are 10+ years old.


huuaaang

I have no idea what you're talking about. Never heard this. Cars always seem to handle long trips just fine. Maybe people are looking at statitstics of breaking down on long trips vs. short ones? You spend more time driving on a long trip therefore it's more likely to break down on that one trip vs. any one short trip.