Best trail car/truck

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
RobFromRedland
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by RobFromRedland » April 24th, 2021, 9:38 am

drm wrote:
April 24th, 2021, 9:24 am
For all the good I've said about Subarus, it must be noted that they have a head gasket problem. The Boxer engine is great for safety and performance with a lower center of gravity, but the inherent challenge in preventing oil leaks has never been solved. If you plan to keep your car till it's old and run down and are okay checking oil and topping up once or twice between oil changes after the car reaches middle age, this is not a big problem.

But if you refuse to open the hood of your car, it can be. I know a guy with a Dodge Dakota with almost 200K on it and he says he has never opened the hood. You don't usually get away with that with a Subie. And sometimes it causes head gaskets to go. And if you want to sell it more around middle age, those leaks are easy to see on inspection. I lost a private party sale on my last 6 year old Subaru because they had an inspection and saw that it leaked oil.

Subaru has worked to make it less of a problem, but since it is inherent to the Boxer design, Subarus will always be at greater risk of it than most of the competition. I know somebody with a 2006 Outback that had their head gasket go twice in short succession. But it didn't stop them from getting another one. Two of the 4 Subarus I've owned developed this problem.
I thought they had solved the head gasket problem in newer models? Or maybe it is some of the aftermarket head gasket designs?

My daughter has a 2005 Forester that had 90,000 miles on it when she bought it - it had just had the head gasket replaced - she is coming up on 200k now and it has been an excellent car for her.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

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texasbb
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by texasbb » April 24th, 2021, 12:59 pm

Charley wrote:
April 21st, 2021, 10:06 pm
Honestly, I like what I heard about AWD/4WD from a dirt-biking friend: "Only use your AWD to get out of trouble, never into trouble." I just make sure not to get into trouble.
That's either sour grapes or paranoia, IMHO. If you're that worried, you should disable one drive wheel on your 2WD vehicle until you need to get out of trouble. ;) And I agree with Webfoot that 4WD makes for safer driving in lots of "ordinary" situations. I use it a lot on washboarded gravel roads to minimize wheelspin on hills.

Edit: I'm referring to Charley's friend's advice, not Charley's reasonable caution, when I speak of paranoia!
Last edited by texasbb on April 24th, 2021, 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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drm
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by drm » April 24th, 2021, 1:43 pm

RobFromRedland wrote:
April 24th, 2021, 9:38 am
I thought they had solved the head gasket problem in newer models?
Well, the problem usually doesn't come up for 5-10 years, so we wouldn't really know on models newer than that. My 2013 didn't blow the head gasket, but it developed the leak after 60K miles and five years. From what I've read, the problem should be less common, but probably won't completely go away.

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Chip Down
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Chip Down » April 24th, 2021, 2:32 pm

drm wrote:
April 24th, 2021, 9:24 am
For all the good I've said about Subarus, it must be noted that they have a head gasket problem. The Boxer engine is great for safety and performance with a lower center of gravity, but the inherent challenge in preventing oil leaks has never been solved. If you plan to keep your car till it's old and run down and are okay checking oil and topping up once or twice between oil changes after the car reaches middle age, this is not a big problem.

But if you refuse to open the hood of your car, it can be. I know a guy with a Dodge Dakota with almost 200K on it and he says he has never opened the hood. You don't usually get away with that with a Subie. And sometimes it causes head gaskets to go. And if you want to sell it more around middle age, those leaks are easy to see on inspection. I lost a private party sale on my last 6 year old Subaru because they had an inspection and saw that it leaked oil.

Subaru has worked to make it less of a problem, but since it is inherent to the Boxer design, Subarus will always be at greater risk of it than most of the competition. I know somebody with a 2006 Outback that had their head gasket go twice in short succession. But it didn't stop them from getting another one. Two of the 4 Subarus I've owned developed this problem.
I don't understand why the boxer configuration is susceptible to head gasket failure.

Speaking of leaks, I had a oil leak on my Outback that didn't result in much oil loss, but the oil that did seep out went right onto the exhaust, thus creating significant smoke. Mechanically, not a big deal...but had to be fixed.

I chuckled at "if you refuse to open the hood of your car". My Honda Element is 16 years old, and honestly I don't even bother to check anything. It's been absolutely 100% perfect, I've literally never added a drop of any fluid to it between scheduled maintenance. I know I should, I'm too complacent, but experience tells me I don't have to.

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sgyoung
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by sgyoung » April 24th, 2021, 3:21 pm

Man, there is so much good info in this thread. Thanks, everyone! The recent discussion about oil leaks in Subarus is timely. My wife's friend had a forester until recently and she was constantly topping it off between oil changes. It's valuable to know this is a documented problem and not a fluke issue with her specific car.

Also, I am very sensitive to the concerns about day-to-day usability. I plan to keep my Kia for daily use and only bust out something more hearty for roads that a sedan can't (easily or safely) handle. We're absolutely looking for a used trail car/SUV as well so we don't feel bad beating it up. I might smash it up a little just to make it look mean before we take out in the woods for the first time

In terms of road quality, I am definitely thinking of roads on par with 4039 to Silver Star. I appreciate that those conditions are relatively rare but I'd like the ability to access 100% of the hikes I want to do, rather than 70%. Having some extra space to store tents or car camp is a bonus too. Not a backpacker currently but I'd really to get into spending some extended time outdoors.

Anyway, there is a lot to think about here. It seems like consensus is that AWD is probably fine, even if 4WD has some modest advantages. The mechanical issues with Subaru are off-putting, but they so also seem to get the job done on other fronts, so still thinking about those. Jeeps are appealing too. I'd be completely down with a pickup like Jerry's Tacoma, but alas my wife is not interested. Perhaps if I promised to really jack it up and add some punisher decals she'd change her mind?

We're test driving a 2016 Ford Escape tomorrow. I saw a question upthread asking about these and I definitely welcome feedback.

Webfoot
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Webfoot » April 24th, 2021, 3:53 pm

sgyoung wrote:
April 24th, 2021, 3:21 pm
We're test driving a 2016 Ford Escape tomorrow. I saw a question upthread asking about these and I definitely welcome feedback.
I can only relate what I see at the end hard roads, and I cannot recall Escapes among them.

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Chip Down
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Chip Down » April 24th, 2021, 4:29 pm

Webfoot wrote:
April 24th, 2021, 3:53 pm
sgyoung wrote:
April 24th, 2021, 3:21 pm
We're test driving a 2016 Ford Escape tomorrow. I saw a question upthread asking about these and I definitely welcome feedback.
I can only relate what I see at the end hard roads, and I cannot recall Escapes among them.
Which means sgyoung can anticipate enthusiastic accolades when he pulls it off! ;)

Webfoot
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Webfoot » April 24th, 2021, 5:48 pm

Chip Down wrote:
April 24th, 2021, 4:29 pm
Which means sgyoung can anticipate enthusiastic accolades when he pulls it off! ;)
So long as he doesn't add to the tally of derelict vehicles along primitive roads. :P

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Don Nelsen » April 24th, 2021, 6:10 pm

dmthomas49 wrote:
April 21st, 2021, 10:02 am

Don Nelsen should give rough road driving instructions using his Mercedes with all the places he has taken it! :lol:
I guess I've ended up with a reputation! I wonder how that happened? ;)

In truth, though, I've never had too much difficulty getting to any trailhead in my 2 WD sedan. That includes Silver Star's infamous road 4109 and a few even worse. The car already had decent road clearance and it had four wheel air shocks standard that I could raise and lower while moving as needed. That was a big help at times. Once in a while I banged the underside and when I finally got rid of it, it was badly scratched up, but not through the clear coat. It still looked pretty good from a few feet away.

95% + of my driving is on good roads and that, for me, takes priority. I'd rather be comfortable in a nice, safe car most of the time, getting good fuel economy. If I have to slow down every now and then, drive very slowly and carefully and maybe risk getting stuck, it's worth the exchange. I've never gotten stuck, BTW. I have a SUV too, but it's used for hauling large items or on wet days or snowy days when 4WD is much more likely to be useful. I've come close to getting stuck, even with the SUV, but always made it.

When I sold my sedan, it had a few miles on it. The engine and transmission never had anything but normal maintenance too. What killed the car was computer troubles that would have cost way more than the car was worth.
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Last edited by Don Nelsen on April 27th, 2021, 8:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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retired jerry
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by retired jerry » April 25th, 2021, 5:50 am

"Perhaps if I promised to really jack it up and add some punisher decals she'd change her mind?"

My wife has a hard time getting into the Tacoma. She almost needs a ladder. I could put on running boards.

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