Author Topic: Car advice for Flagstaff, AZ  (Read 3309 times)

Justaerin

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Car advice for Flagstaff, AZ
« on: August 23, 2012, 12:06:08 PM »
Hi all,

I'm in a dilemma.  I currently have a motorcycle as my only vehicle, which I love and is totally doable for about 360 days a year here in the desert where I live.  Problem is, my girlfriend attends NAU in Flagstaff, which is about 400 miles away, one-way.

Flights from my closest airport to Flagstaff run about $250-$300 bucks and would include a 45 minute ride plus parking fees.

I can ride the motorcycle there on the weekends most of the time, but I'm worried about the Flagstaff snow fall.  Anyone familiar with winter driving conditions there?  Are they worth spending a few thousand on a used AWD or FWD (plus chains)?  For those winter months, I would be making the 800mi round-trip in the car, whatever I purchase.

I'm wondering if it may be cheaper to fly her here during those potentially hazardous weekends than to have a car for those situations, but at the same time, having four wheels and a roof would be desirable even here in the desert sometimes.  What say?  Please help to open my eyes a bit more, and call my BS if you see any.

Thanks!

Jaketucson

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Re: Car advice for Flagstaff, AZ
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2012, 12:22:20 PM »
Before we were married, my wife attended grad school at NAU and I would make the trek from Tucson to Flagstaff pretty frequently.  One of those winters was exceptionally snowy and I was thankful to have my 4WD.  I moved up there the next year, and it was one of the driest winters they ever had.  One snowfall and that wasn't even until March.  I won't call BS on anything because it can be pretty treacherous driving up there when conditions get really bad.  It makes sense to me that you wouldn't want to attempt it on a motorcycle.  Cars frequently slide off the I-17 freeway a few miles south of town when bad weather hits.  That being said, many of them are driving inappropriately for the conditions.    Have you looked into the cost of just renting a suitable vehicle for trips that might have bad weather?  I guess you'd have to figure in how long you plan on the long-distance situation when comparing all your options.  Someone else can address whether it would be "greener" to fly or to drive yourself the 400 miles--this issue is discussed elsewhere in the forum.

Being at 7000 feet, the weather can be pretty unpredictable.  You would likely not need chains for AWD though.  FWD (front wheel drive I assume, not 4-wheel drive?) may not need chains either.  My wife's car is FWD and she never needed them, but I don't think she ever got caught in really bad conditions on the freeway either.  Most winters up there follow a more snow/thaw/snow/thaw cycle rather than snow cover 100% of the winter.  And the city is pretty good about plowing and putting cinders down.  At least they were, it's been about 6-7 years since we lived there.

$_gone_amok

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Re: Car advice for Flagstaff, AZ
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2012, 12:27:32 PM »
Buy a beater FWD car for less than 4K and a snow chain, then sell it when you don't need it anymore. If you are lucky you could sell the car for more than what you paid for.

I drove between LA and SF (400 miles) frequently in the past, a cheap, reliable commuter vehicle is the way to go.

Justaerin

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Re: Car advice for Flagstaff, AZ
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2012, 12:54:11 PM »
Thanks for the advice!  I have indeed considered the rental option, as that's been my go-to for really horrible periods of inclement weather here, and the small cost of driving and maintaining a motorcycle offsets that well.  I haven't needed one personally for so long that I'll have to look into whether or not they charge mileage before I make that type of trek in one.

I lived in Alaska for 9 years, so I'm pretty comfortable driving on snowy and icy roads, so maybe a FWD (yes, front :) is more the way to go.  With that distance, I don't know if the AWD for some POTENTIALLY bad roads really warrants the poor MPG and possible maintenance costs.

If there's a really bad storm I suppose it'd be better to wait a week, but that's lame haha.

Anyway, thanks again for the awesome advice!  I'll look for a civic/camry/corolla or something similar when it gets a little colder out.