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 Starting the vehicle search from scratch! Help?

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allimaloney
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PostSubject: Starting the vehicle search from scratch! Help?   Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:00 pm

Hi all!

At long last, I've finally decided to take time for myself and travel. I've been living from city-to-city for a few years, so I've been without a car and dependent on planes for way too long.

So I'm making the most important purchase of my young life: a dependable, 4wd vehicle that is large enough to hold a studio apt's worth of belongs w/o furniture. I'm drawn towards something with a sleeping space because I know that I'll put it to use this year, but think a roomy wagon could suffice (and probably makes more sense in the long run). I'd like to find something that will last, a vehicle that I can drive the hell out of to move through even MORE states.

I know a lot about fixing broken cars, but very little about brands. Can anyone help me get started? The search seems overwhelming when you don't have a few brands to start looking for!

Thanks,
Alli
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Peej
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PostSubject: Re: Starting the vehicle search from scratch! Help?   Thu Dec 19, 2013 8:54 pm

Hi Alli
Congratulations on Getting the opportunity to travel, our little sojourns are restricted by work schedules for now.
My first reaction to your request is take your time, list what your requirements are i.e where are you going and how are going to achieve it, take only what you need not what might come in handy sometime, be ruthless. Carry all essential spares and tools and above all keep it simple. Check out Tembo on the completed trips forum N.E. Morocco Wash out forum out he's a master of the KISS philosophy.

know your own mind when looking at vehicles, everyone will say that theirs is the best for the task but that's their task not yours, look through this forum carefully it is full of good info and the different ways we all approach the same ideal. no single approach is perfect for all requirements.

I was in your position 3 years ago and the requirement for us was; had to be an everyday driver, had to tow a 1.5 ton caravan in and out of muddy county show grounds, had to carry stock in the back, had to be reliable, had to be comfortable for long distance, had to be economical, had to be capable off road, had to be big enough to sleep in the back.  scratching chin 

My ideal would have been to buy on older 4x4 without electrical gadgets, without a turbo and with sticks and levers connecting all the mechanical bits. The only electrical system would be from the battery to the switch to the lights. as you say your handy with cars then this may be your option and it won't be any more expensive than buying newer and probably will be a whole lot more reliable.

Realising I didn't have the time or the space to indulge in my ideal and after studying the whole spectrum of what is on the market, read road tests which really are worthless by the way, more importantly studying reviews by owners of these vehicles I narrowed my list to just two, the Defender and the Jeep JK. Both rugged well proven with a wide dealer network and lots of spares in the aftermarket at sensible money.

My choice in the end was the Jeep JK, Far quieter and more comfortable than the landy (I used to drive a defender at work so was familiar with em), the JK has less room in the back than the defender, is far more economical, does every thing on my list.

three years on and I love the jeep; downsides? Oh Yes! Dealer network bunch of crooks and a total waste of time, too many electronics, always on edge especially in the wet, when ever it rains the water in the fuel light comes on, nip underneath with the WD40 and out it goes. Twice in the last 12 months whilst driving the dash has lit up like a christmas tree, every single light on, just like when you turn the engine off or ignition on prior to starting the engine but the engine is still running? No recorded fault codes for these problems to help with diagnosis. the JK is not as well made as it should be for a modern vehicle and is over complex yet when I chose it it was the least complex, other than the Defender, I could find.

Upsides? Oh Yes! The Italian diesel engine is superb, a sheer pleasure to drive, it has the flattest torque curve this side of a truck 225bhp between 2000 to 2600 rpm absolutely no point going to red line at 4000rpm. The gearbox is a bit clunky especially when cold, the wife never has a problem but I do, weird, but the ratios are bang on 5th gear is almost universal and usable from 20mph, 6th gear from 25mph it's a very laid back drive. Quiet, comfortable, easy. off road capability is superb don't think you could choose between Defender or JK on that score. It has a LEVER for selecting 4wd high or low fantastic!

Verdict? well honestly, mmmm I suspect that long term the JK may prove to be more fragile than the Defender, there are known faults with the front drive shafts, knocked out the UJ's on mine in 30k! with not a lot of 4wd use. there are solutions but they are expensive competition shafts. Very definitely worried long term regarding the electronic gadgets it has and these would need to be carried as spares on expeditions just for peace of mind.

Would I change it for a Defender? no, despite my anxieties it still has the edge on the defender for all the above reasons.

would I recommend it to you? No! for all the above reasons.

Do You see how hard choosing is going to be?  Smile

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roamingman
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PostSubject: Re: Starting the vehicle search from scratch! Help?   Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:26 pm

Hi Alli and welcome,  clinking teacups 

Peej is right so many motors to chose from, His Jeep JK is good for him, we went for for his other choice a Defender, we also have 2 Discovery 1's, Peej is right, you find quite a few people will tell you to pick the make they have, both of us feel the same, everybody should chose the 4x4 they would be happy in.
So make a list of the bits you need, and how much space it will require then add the space you need for your comfort.

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Tom Mc
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PostSubject: Re: Starting the vehicle search from scratch! Help?   Fri Dec 20, 2013 1:21 pm

Welcome Alli.  cheers 

Where are you based, in America by any chance? This is obviously relevant to your choice.

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Assassin
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PostSubject: Re: Starting the vehicle search from scratch! Help?   Sat Dec 21, 2013 3:59 am

Very good advice, particularly about people citing the vehicle they have.

There is only one way to approach this and this is to go and see them all as well as drive them all in a variety of conditions, also when you have tried them all and made a shortlist you need to research them in detail to find out about their pitfalls and common faults, and general reliability.

Personally I would never have a Land Rover as they are too unreliable, but the opposite side of the coin is that they have good spares availability and the spares are cheap which is a benefit if you have the mechanical nouse to repair and maintain your own vehicles.

For reliability you need Japanese and the trade off is that spares can be expensive if something major breaks, but places such as Milners do routine and service parts very cheaply so this isn't much of an issue in itself which brings them back into contention, and this was the reason I went for my Shogun and it was the best decision I made as it is so reliable. This leaves vehicles such as the Mitsubishi Shogun, Toyota Land Cruiser and the now defunct Nissan Patrol as Japanese contenders as well as Land Rover and Jeep for true off roaders, most come as LWB and SWB variants and with diesel or petrol power.

You could take an alternative view and look at the large vans such as the Transit, Iveco, or numerous other light commercials which came with 4WD as they may prove to be worth a look, but be aware that you will sacrifice some off road performance so you will need to improve your off road driving to compensate for this, but despite worse fuel economy you trade this for space and additional load carrying capacity.

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Tembo
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PostSubject: Re: Starting the vehicle search from scratch! Help?   Sun Dec 22, 2013 4:55 am

Hey Alli,

Since you mention 'moving through more states' I am going to guess you are in the U.S.A. If wrong, you can skim over what is below.

I am from Canada and while there I always had a jeep. Mine was a Wrangler YJ bought new in 1987. I loved that truck. I drove it all across Europe, Canada and the States. Never let me down and yes, I could easily fit all my stuff in it (less furniture) as I also moved around alot. My son now has it after we striped it down to the chassis and rebuilt it...not because it needed rebuilding but mostly because I wanted him to understand his vehicle. So I would definitely recommend a jeep if your mostly traveling in the States.

Before moving over to the UK I was looking at a long wheel base CJ6 as it gives you alot more room and you could sleep in it. If I was back in North America, that would be my first choice as an overlander.

But my general rules are:

- If is filled with electronic gizmos...pass it by. Good for the city, not for roughing it.
- If it has a 'limp home mode' forget it, especially if you plan any trips beyond North America.
- If it has an automated traction control system, forget it...Wideformat4x4 can explain why after our recent trip to Morocco
- If it is so complicated that you can't do most repair work yourself, pass it by.

Those are my rules. I look forward to hearing your eventual choice!

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VikingExplorer
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PostSubject: Re: Starting the vehicle search from scratch! Help?   Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:20 am

Hi Alli,

Not sure if you are still following this thread, but thought I'd put a few of my thoughts in.

There are many options for kitting out your vehicle, and this will determine what your choices are. There are the standard 4x4s (LandCruiser, Land Rover, Pajero), then there are the pick-ups (Hi-Lux, Izuzu, Warrior, LandCruiser), then there is the Troopie (LandCruiser, Land Rover), then there are the vans (Syncro, Iveco), and then the trucks (MAN, Bedford, Merc, Iveco, DAF,...). When we did our travel we saw them all, and we had many discussions of whether we had made the right choice with our LandCruiser... We decided we had!

The difference between the vehicles is whether you would like it to be: a) possible to sleep inside it; b) possible to sleep on top of it; c) possible to sit comfortable in it to eat when it is raining outside; d) possible to have a shower inside it; e) possible to hide from prying eyes and have some privacy.

Size will also determine a) the toll fees you pay; b) the type of shipping container you can use if you plan to ship, and c) if you are allowed entry into national parks (weight and size restrictions in Southern Africa).

It would be interesting to learn what you ended up with, Alli. And why.

Keep posting.

Cheers,

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Tom Mc
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PostSubject: Re: Starting the vehicle search from scratch! Help?   Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:22 am

VikingExplorer wrote:


The difference between the vehicles is whether you would like it to be: a) possible to sleep inside it; b) possible to sleep on top of it; c) possible to sit comfortable in it to eat when it is raining outside; d) possible to have a shower inside it; e) possible to hide from prying eyes and have some privacy.

Size will also determine a) the toll fees you pay; b) the type of shipping container you can use if you plan to ship, and c) if you are allowed entry into national parks (weight and size restrictions in Southern Africa).

Personally I am quite content with my choice of vehicle - an ambulance formerly, it's now a Range Rover Classic camper with all the characteristics of a regular sized 4x4, but the added benefits of a campervan.

It is possible to sleep inside it - thus a lot more secure. Sleeping on top of a vehicle with 'strange people' outside is a scary thought, with a campervan you can simply step into the cab and drive off! However, that said, if an awning was still erected, an instant decision would have to be made whether to wreck the awning by driving off. In a life and death situation (i.e. robbery, kidnap, etc.) the cost of a new awning is nothing compared to one's well-being.

It is possible to sit comfortable in it to eat when it is raining outside.

It is not possible to have a shower inside it, but quite frankly I don't see the need. Around civilisation there are campsites with perfectly good showers, in the wilderness you can make your own arrangements from a bucket and sponge to various external showers on the market. Besides, who actually needs a shower every day? Not me for sure ... it's unhealthy!  Wink 

It is possible to hide from prying eyes and have some privacy.

Regarding size and the type of shipping container you can use if you plan to ship - the RR camper is not much longer than a Landcruiser VX/Amazon, so costs are still reasonable. Same goes for toll fees (although I accept these may well be higher than a standard 4x4), and as for travelling though national parks because of weight/size restrictions in Southern Africa or anywhere else, being a converted RRC this isn't likely to be an issue.

A good compromise all around is to purchase an ex-4x4 ambulance - Land Rover, Toyota, Nissan or whatever - convert it into a campervan, and quite literally go for it! Not too big or small, off-road ability should the need arise, still able to negotiate small villages and narrow tracks, room to cook, sleep and entertain guests whatever the weather, 100 times more secure than a roof tent for in terms of attack by animals or humans.

I rest my case!

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PostSubject: Re: Starting the vehicle search from scratch! Help?   Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:32 pm

Tom, just admit yours is a mobile passion wagon, hence sleeping inside.
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Tom Mc
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PostSubject: Re: Starting the vehicle search from scratch! Help?   Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:42 am

I would readily admit to it if true, if only ... Crying or Very sad

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