Is it worth buying a new car to commute just 1.5 blocks every day?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:

My wife wants to buy a new vehicle, a Toyota Tacoma. I heard many years ago that driving short distances wasn't good for the engine. My wife works just one-and-a-half blocks from our home, and she always drives to work. Will it harm the engine to drive that short a distance every day? The only alternative I can come up with is that we alternate vehicles every other week. Any comments or suggestions? -- Steve

RAY: Well, my first comment is "wow." And I thought my brother was lazy!

TOM: And my suggestion is that you get her a good pair of walking shoes and give her a map to the sidewalk.

RAY: You're absolutely correct about short trips, Steve. Whenever the engine is running, it's producing moisture. And when you drive only a block and a half -- or a mile and a half, for that matter -- the engine doesn't get hot enough to expel that moisture through the crankcase ventilation system. And when the moisture lingers like that, it leads to premature engine failure. And the same thing happens in the exhaust system.

TOM: Assuming she's not disabled, walking to work is the answer. She'll be healthier. She'll lower her blood pressure, decrease her risk of heart disease, feel better and maybe even get to know her neighbors if she walked.

RAY: Plus, her car will be healthier, and she won't need a new muffler every three months.

TOM: And if she walks, you might not even need the new car. And maybe there's something else you guys would like to do with that $300-$400 a month -- after buying her an umbrella and some walking shoes.

RAY: Seriously, Steve, you could swap cars with her every other day or every other week -- that would help -- but walking is the obvious answer here. Even two knucklehead car columnists can see that.

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