Would a scooter (or a hybrid car even) be better for short trips?

Most of my driving is done within a 10 mile radius of my home. I know short trips under 10 minutes are more detrimental to your car. But does the same apply for a motor scooter (150 )cc or a hybrid car?

Don’t worry that you are causing your car any harm with short trips, just make sure that you are using the ‘severe service’ maintenance schedule in your manual. Of course a scooter or hybrid will use less gas, but I don’t feel safe on a scooter in city traffic, and you’d have to drive a lot of miles for a hybrid to pay for the added purchase cost.

With the way hybrids work right now, the short trips are just as detrimental as a regular car because they need to start the engine to warm it up and it won’t warm up all the way. However, this kind of driving would be ideal for the plug-in hybrids that are on the horizon because they will have a certain range you can drive before the engine starts at all.

With the scooter, because it’s a far smaller engine that’s working a lot harder and is cooled probably only by a pint or quart or so of circulating oil, it warms up far faster than your car engine that’s barely working and has to warm up a couple of gallons of coolant.

Have you ever ridden a scooter? If not, you have to learn how. Many states require a motorcycle endorsement on your license (California for certain) and you should take a class through the “Motorcycle Safety Foundation”. Look it up with Google. That said, there is no doubt that a scooter is a great way to get around in a congested city or suburb.

It depends on where you drive. If you live in the country or in suburbs in which people drive safely and politely, and you are willing to take class and wear a helmet, go for the scooter. If, on the other hand, you live in a place where people drive like idiots, or you think you can ride without taking a class or without wearing a helmet, choose something with four wheels.

If you are considering a scooter, have you considered a bicycle?

If most of your driving is within 10 miles of your home, then it sounds like you don’t put many miles on the car/year. If that’s true, just change your oil on the severe service maintenance schedule.

There are many cars out there that only drive short trips. They tend to die of old-age causes unrelated to mileage (body rust) before any kind of engine wear (which short trips are hard on).

The most cost effective solution is to continue driving the car you use now. If you hardly use it, it hardly uses gas. Even a HUMMER would fit this description.

In case anyone else is looking at this (and I really appreciate the input!), my purpose in considering the scooter is that my car is a '94 Corolla with about 166,000 miles on it. I think it should last a little while longer, but not sure how much (I really need to get it looked at because it doesn’t sound great). I’m not so much concerned about how much I pay for gas - I’m in it more for the environmental reasons (less general gas usage, less emissions).
I’ve looked into motorcycle classes, considered the safety aspect, etc. Also considered bicycle, but I have to be at work before 7 a.m., and it’s pretty hilly here in Atlanta, and ultimately I’m lazy. :slight_smile: Thanks again, everyone, for the advice!

You should get a hybrid.

Riding a scooter at 5:30 am sounds unpleasant, and driving through hills on a scooter in the dark sounds dangerous, especially to a new rider.

A hybrid would be perfect for city traffic, since they don’t use gas at low speeds.

There are small scooters for urban driving and larger ones for going out on higher speed interstate highways. Some scooters have fairly large cargo carrying capacity. If you are commuting to work you probably need a scooter that can safely travel on roads at speeds up to 60 mph. The larger the scooter the less gas mileage it will get. The small scooters get great miles per gallon but may not be safe mixing with autos at normal commuting speeds.

Whatever scooter you decide to get, make sure you have some money to buy a good helmet (good ones are $300 and up) and gloves and other protective gear.

As a confirmed scooter commuter I’ll tell you this. There are perfectly good and safe helmets for $100 or so. You should wear a safety jacket, etc. Look at Ebay listings. You should take safety classes. If you use freeways or interstates to commute, stick with a car. On city streets a scooter is fine. If traffic goes 50-55, buy a 150cc scooter. If it is really local streets only then a smaller engine will be OK, but a 150 is much better. Commuting at 5:30 is certainly OK; I do it every day. There is very little traffic, and what there is is almost all other commuters who know exactly where they are going and are not a threat (unless they are reading, phoning, texting, putting on make-up, etc.). At 5:30 am there is room on the road to get out of the way of those lunatics. The ride home can be more challenging because you may be dealing with insane parents driving without regard to anyone’s safety in order to pick up the kid at school. Then, watch out.

Buy a used scooter and see if it works for you. The summer is coming and it is a good time for a trial. Buy a used on so that you can sell it at little to no loss if you don’t like it. Don’t get anything less than 150cc. You want something that will respond if you need it to.

This is not directly the same. In 1998, I got a higher paying job opening. The chap who had the job was run down by a semi-truck while bicycling to work. He died. Would a scooter have been enough more visible to save his life? I have no idea.

Scooter is hazardous to health/risky unless sparsely driven roads by others.

Hybrid is an excellent fit for this.

That being said the “bad effects” are really overstated on “short trips”. It is harder but simply being diligent about maintenance will make up for this. The car will last just as long timewise for a driver under longer optimal conditions vs close ones.

My relatives buzz around Nantucket with a 1990 Subaru Legacy with 50-75k (not really sure speedo is broken). It has been relatively problem free just age related repairs.

A hybrid would be perfect for city traffic, since they don’t use gas at low speeds.

Sure they do…It depends on the battery situation. If you constantly drive at a lower speed the battery will eventually drain and the engine will have to kick in.

A hybrid would be perfect for city traffic, since they don’t use gas at low speeds.

That isn’t true of all hybrids, or even most hybrids. For example, Honda’s hybrids use gas all the time. The electric motor is just for added power.

Short trips and and an electric car make more sense than anything. You should talk to the guys over at the DIY Electric Car forum