Living in your car: Short or Long Term

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Legality:

The first question is, can you live in your car in your specific state? Whether you are permanently living in your car or just doing it temporarily for an economical grand adventure across the US it is always best to check.

There’s not a lot of agreement among experts, it seems. Perhaps one reason is that it’s hard to make a law against something like that. As much as many cities would like to prevent you from living in your car, what can they specifically ban to prevent it? Sleeping? Many drivers’ education programs told us to pull over if you’re getting tired and take a nap. Truck drivers are required to rest a certain number of hours after driving for 10 hours. Should a patrol car come around every hour and make sure they didn’t fall asleep? Sounds like a good use of tax dollars.

Wimsett_Living 2There are a number of cities in which it is illegal to sleep in your car. One example is Palo Alto, California. Those who get caught receive a $1000 fine and up to six months in jail. Even without these vagrancy laws, you could still get charged with indecency for changing in your car. Or you may become victim to the anti-loitering laws.

There’s a movement among cities to ban car living, and cities like Los Angelis banned decades ago, however, it’s a little difficult to tell someone they can’t use their property for a certain purpose. LA’s law was struck down as discriminatory against the income disadvantaged.

This article in compare.com contains a list of cities that have banned sleeping in your car and they point out that if you are intoxicated you can still be given a DUI even if you never started the vehicle up.

It seems many states are against you living in your car…States like Texas ban it unless at a state rest area. Some states ban it entirely but generally, you can get away with it, with a few caveats. According to AskDeb.com it’s considered suspicious behavior to be asleep in a car as you aren’t necessarily the owner of the vehicle. Police can awaken you and verify your identity; they can search your car and since many people choose to commit suicide in vehicles they can spend as long as they desire to determine your mental state. This can be so interruptive that you aren’t really getting sleep.

Where to Park if you’re not Sure:

For those who simply wish to live in their car while crossing the country, truck stops and rest areas are some of the best places to sleep. Perhaps the most commonly recommended places are Walmart’s or other big box stores, which are notoriously tolerant of overnight guests since they tend to wake up and buy groceries. If you do pick a parking lot the park under a street light. Here’s a list of Walmarts that allow it from allstay.com.

Natural/Federal land allows you to park 14 days out of any single month, as long as following guidelines. City parks are an option if they haven’t posted signs against it. Industrial parks, yachting marinas and so on might be good places to park.

The experts are split on the topic of camping along seldom traveled (blue) roads. Might depend on your personal aura—some of us project a natural sense shield that tells bad guys to stay away yet invites the police to come check us out. If you fall into that category then a rural road might work better than a neighborhood street. One caution about roadside campsites is that they’re often privately owned.

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Learn to spot good neighbourhoods—too upscale and you’ll stick out, too run-down and you’ll get swept up with someone else doing what you’re doing and making a mess of it. Look for a street that looks like you’re just parked there overnight while you’re visiting Uncle Fred.

 

 

Safety:

There’s no real way to guarantee safety. However here are some precautions to help you.

Window tinting is a must for three reasons:

  1. Police don’t notice you sleeping inside you won’t get hassled.
  2. If thugs don’t see you or piles of your belongings you’re less of a target.
  3. Neighbors are less likely to identify you as a vagrant if you don’t have mountains of trash and possessions in your car, which is easy to see without tinting.

According to a Reddit post on the topic which distilled several hours of Youtube video advice down to these points:

  • don’t park in the same spot twice in two weeks
  • Come at dark, (sleep, and nothing else) and leave at dawn
  • Never poop/shower/sleep etc where you sleep–take care of that before and after

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Under the Radar is the Best Policy:

Vans can be more spacious and worth the risk, but the rule of thumb is to avoid looking like you’re living in your car so you may want to choose a vehicle that doesn’t look like you could live in it. Still, adequate space is a must.

By that same token, a new car is less targeted by police and neighbors and less likely to break down on your trip. Breakdowns are more than simply annoying in your situation for bathroom reasons listed as you read on.

Use a sun guard in your front window instead of a tarp or blanket. Again the idea is to blend in but to prevent people from easily seeing in.

The ultimate under the radar is, again, not to do your toiletries where you’re going to sleep. Defecating in your car leads to needing to dispose of said waste and having that on hand is not something you can explain away when they police wrap on your window. Don’t get caught with your pants down.

What to Pack:

You will need a great amount of water, especially when crossing the desert. For practical purposes, you will need an emergency gas can with a couple of gallons of gas inside. Note that gas fumes can be more dangerous than your thinking if you’re asleep, so if you can smell gas put the can outside for the night. Better stolen than dead.

You will also need a fully working camera to record your journey. It is also well worth keeping a journal of your experiences.

Preparing for your Journey:

You may need to rent a private mailbox in order to receive your mail, or you might choose to use the residence of a friend or a relative as a postal address. You may need to put valuables in a safe deposit box in a bank—but never, EVER, put your will in safe deposit box (your executors can’t access it until its officially read. Catch 22 anyone?)

It is always a good idea to have personal ID close at hand, such as your driver’s license and personal insurance forms when the police want to see your details.

It’s a good idea to buy a steering lock and make sure your car’s steering wheel is locked as much as possible. If your car is really your home you don’t want it stolen from you any time soon.

In order to sleep you need a mattress and a blanket. Place your foodstuff in plastic containers when they won’t get smashed.

If you chose to sleep in your car it is my hope that you stay as safe as you can be. Hopefully, your life will pick up soon.

5 Benefits of Diesel

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Shopping for a new truck—and thinking about going diesel? You may be surprised by the sheer number of benefits and perks that a diesel engine can offer. There are still some lingering stigmas about diesel from years ago that no longer apply thanks to new technology, so you have to have the right information. Whether the Duramax has caught your eye or it’s the Denali that’s captured your heart, here’s the icing on your diesel-fueled sweet ride.

  1. Electric Complexity? Forget About It.

“Regular” ignition systems are managed by complicated electrical systems—which can have glitches and have you shelling out thousands to the mechanic. Diesel ignition systems are simply, well, simpler. This means they’re more reliable, while even touting better thermal efficiency. You need your truck to be a true workhorse, and going diesel can help you get there.

  1. They’re Green

Diesel fuel burns cleaner than other types of gasoline, making a GMC diesel truck more eco-friendly than other options while still maintaining their rugged clout. For those who wouldn’t be caught in a Prius or Tesla, but still have a soft spot for the environment, diesel is the ultimate alternative—no tree-hugging bumper stickers required (unless, of course, that’s your thing).

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When it comes to sheer power, diesel provides more torque than other fuel options. There’s more horsepower in every square inch of displacement, leading to an increased revolution-per-minute of fuel. Basically, when hauling heavy loads, you simply need a diesel engine for better, stronger and faster performance. GMC diesel trucks are the ultimate ride for heavy haulers. From boating gear to construction supplies, if you actually use your bed and hitch, you need the right fuel to pull the goods.

  1. Better Fuel Consumption

There was a time when diesel was cheaper per gallon than unleaded. Those days are sadly over, but what many people don’t realize is that diesel is still more affordable. Diesel engines consume less fuel, which means when you fill up the tank, it’ll last longer. When compared to a gasoline truck that averages 15 mpg, you can expect 22 mpg from a diesel engine. That’s something both you and your wallet will enjoy.

  1. It’s Safer in a Crash

ford-pick-up-truck-2821964_1920Hopefully, you and your loved ones will never be in a serious accident—but if the worst does happen, a diesel engine can help protect you. Diesel is less flammable than other types of fuel, so you have a reduced risk of fire or, even worse, an explosion. This isn’t something that people like to think about, which means that it’s not a common conversation starter when checking out a diesel dealership. However, your diesel engine might just save your life, and it’s something worth considering.

When shopping for your new heavy hauler, there’s more to think about than extended cabs and lift kits. How you fuel your truck can make a huge difference in your bank account, your safety, and performance. Choose wisely.

 

 

#10 Car DIY: Handle Car Body Damage Yourself

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In this Series of How-To posts, we’ll be covering knowing when to do something, how to do something and our own hack to try at your own risk. A big thanks to Tire Kickers, our sponsor and consultants on all things mechanical. They can be found on Facebook, or check out their auto health & safety advice.

(Note: this is the best information we could gather from our research and consulting our automotive advisors, but at the end of the day, our purpose is to entertain and inform. Don’t let us shame you into taking on something if you don’t feel qualified to do it. Trust your gut.)

Know When

Clearly, if you’ve got an insurance claim to file then you need to run everything through the insurance. However, sometimes there’s some parking lot damage that you don’t notice right away, or someone didn’t leave you a note. On occasion, insurance cuts you a check and you have a better use for the money than fixing some cosmetic issues on a car that’s not as new as it once was.

If you’ve decided not to get something professionally repaired its likely small enough that you might be able to fix it yourself. That’s a win/win, keep the money and still get a better-looking car.

Know How:

See the hack below for some crazy shortcuts that often reduce the appearance of damage to almost invisible.

EDC/Hack:

You can buy car wax at any automotive store and you’d be shocked how many sins it can wipe away. Simply apply with one clean rag and wipe off with another. Superficial scratches can catch the light and make damage seem large. Shadows can appear as dents. If the paint and metal aren’t actually damaged simply buffing out the scratches will improve your appearance dramatically.

Another trick we’ve heard of, but not had a chance to try yet is taking a common house plunger to medium-sized dents. We’ve used some of the commercially available dent removal options with mixed results. Honestly, anything that starts with the words, “drill a whole,” is something you want to live with or pay a pro.

 

 

#9 Car DIY: Value of a Dash Cam

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In this Series of How-To posts, we’ll be covering knowing when to do something, how to do something and our own hack to try at your own risk. A big thanks to Tire Kickers, our sponsor and consultants on all things mechanical. They can be found on Facebook, or check out their auto health & safety advice.

(Note: this is the best information we could gather from our research and consulting our automotive advisors, but at the end of the day, our purpose is to entertain and inform. Don’t let us shame you into taking on something if you don’t feel qualified to do it. Trust your gut.)

Know When

 

You never know when you’re going to need a dash cam. In the early days, go cams were the rage, strapped skateboards, and duct taped to helmets to capture your crazy stunts. Now they are vital in our legal state of the union to help you tell your side of the story. Here’s a video of a fake accident in England by a team of hustlers. If you watch this and don’t order a dash cam, then you probably never will.

(https://youtu.be/zAczz3nYuh4 Video Link)

Know How:

Follow the instructions that come with the one you buy. Heres a link to a couple that have nice features. The key is to know what’s important to you feature-wise. Do you want battery life, recording quality, hard drive space, external memory slots, etc. The features we’ll point out is twin cameras facing front and back, and some sort of inertia crash detection.

Apeman wins on bang for the buck.

This one has got to be the least obtrusive if you find that you can live without an in-car recording of your passengers.

EDC/Hack:

You can turn an old cell phone into a dash cam. It has all the right stuff—two way camera, GPS, memory, etc. All you need is one of the many apps available on the market. As an added bonus you can easily find mounts because they’re standard sized. There are quite a number of apps so try this link or this link to compare.

 

#8 Car DIY: Escape a Sinking Car

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In this Series of How-To posts, we’ll be covering knowing when to do something, how to do something and our own hack to try at your own risk. A big thanks to Tire Kickers, our sponsor and consultants on all things mechanical. They can be found on Facebook, or check out their auto health & safety advice.

(Note: this is the best information we could gather from our research and consulting our automotive advisors, but at the end of the day, our purpose is to entertain and inform. Don’t let us shame you into taking on something if you don’t feel qualified to do it. Trust your gut.)

Know When

The unlikely event of a water landing when driving a vehicle doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Unlike the duck and cover method of avoiding nuclear explosion you were tot in school, it actually can save your life to know how to escape a submerged vehicle. Assuming you were wearing your seatbelt so you weren’t knocked unconscious when your vehicle struck the surface of the water, you will have a little time before your car sinks—but not long.

The challenge is that the water pushing against the door will make it impossible to open the door. You’ll need to let the water in so that the pressure inside and out is equalized. Clearly, if you aren’t a professional free diver you’ll want to exit the car before it sinks too far, but the less air in the car the faster it will sink. Then there’s the whole needing to breathe. Bottom line, evacuate the vehicle swiftly without panicking.

Know How:

Roll a window down. Don’t freak out when it’s cold and you can’t do much until it’s full. Breathe while you still can. Then remove your seat belt. Visibility may be bad after the car is full of muddy water so make your preparations quickly. Still better to keep your seatbelt on until the rush of water is done—unless you need to get your kid out of a complicated car seat.

If you can’t roll down the window, because the water shorted your power systems, use a special device to break the window by striking it near a corner. It’s actually not easy to break a car window and there’s a good chance that you’re going to cut your hand. So plan on cutting your hand—it’s better than drowning.

EDC/Hack:

If you don’t have one of the many devices we recommend below for smashing car windows, you can remove your headrest and use you metal legs.

#7 Car DIY: Get Cheaper Extended Warranties on Used Cars

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In this Series of How-To posts, we’ll be covering knowing when to do something, how to do something and our own hack to try at your own risk. A big thanks to Tire Kickers, our sponsor and consultants on all things mechanical. They can be found on Facebook, or check out their auto health & safety advice.

(Note: this is the best information we could gather from our research and consulting our automotive advisors, but at the end of the day, our purpose is to entertain and inform. Don’t let us shame you into taking on something if you don’t feel qualified to do it. Trust your gut.)

Know When

Your new car warranty probably ran out at 3 years or 36,000 miles. It’s a good idea to purchase an extended warranty after that time, provided you can get it cheaper than through a dealership.

Your dad probably drummed it into your head, “Never buy a used car warranty…” We’ll dad was right—mostly. When you purchase a vehicle you have an opportunity to roll the cost of a warranty into the loan for the vehicle. It’s like buying the fridge with the house. It’s easy on the pocketbook compared to going separately to buy the exact fridge you want, until you realize you’re paying for the fridge for the next 30 years.

We’re no financial advisors so do what you think is best. BUT the real reason to avoid buying the warranties are these. You are paying a heavy markup to the guy/gal who is already making a commission on selling you a car. So you’re paying more and you are paying someone for insurance against them screwing you over. “Here, this is a good car, but in case it’s not, why don’t you pay us extra to fix it.” It’s just not a sensible thing to do.

Know How:

If you are interested in a warranty on your used car, see our hack for a link to purchase a used car warranty independent of a dealership.

EDC/Hack:

The standard markup on a warranty is at least $1,000. Here’s a better option. Call around to pre-purchase inspection services and find one that can sell an extended warranty. Warranty companies love to sell through them because these are the guys helping you establish the quality and value of the vehicle. You’re less likely to need one if an inspector is willing to sell it to you and since they aren’t salesmen, they offer them at a much lower cost. Here’s a link to one such inspection service.

#5 Car DIY: Handle a Check Engine Light

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In this Series of How-To posts, we’ll be covering knowing when to do something, how to do something and our own hack to try at your own risk. A big thanks to Tire Kickers, our sponsor and consultants on all things mechanical. They can be found on Facebook, or check out their auto health & safety advice.

(Note: this is the best information we could gather from our research and consulting our automotive advisors, but at the end of the day, our purpose is to entertain and inform. Don’t let us shame you into taking on something if you don’t feel qualified to do it. Trust your gut.)

Know When

Don’t ignore check engine lights. I know it seems like it’s either going to be something really expensive or an annoying thing you have to pay to find out is nothing. What doesn’t come to mind, and should, is if you’re in danger of an engine failure that could make your vehicle unsafe.

Know How:

There are some ways to check the codes which may be included in your owners manual, but check the hack section for an easy way to know exactly what’s wrong in simple English.

EDC/Hack:

Check out the FIXD device. It’ll plug into any car made after 1996 and tell an app on your cell phone what’s up with your engine. Beyond peace of mind, being able to do your own diagnostic saves you money with your mechanic.

 

 

#4 Car DIY: Handle Cold Weather

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In this Series of How-To posts, we’ll be covering knowing when to do something, how to do something and our own hack to try at your own risk. A big thanks to Tire Kickers, our sponsor and consultants on all things mechanical. They can be found on Facebook, or check out their auto health & safety advice.

(Note: this is the best information we could gather from our research and consulting our automotive advisors, but at the end of the day, our purpose is to entertain and inform. Don’t let us shame you into taking on something if you don’t feel qualified to do it. Trust your gut.)

Know When

Don’t wait for bad weather is upon you to prepare. Set it in your calendar, depending on where you live. In mild climates, it can go on a list of actions you take whenever you turn the clocks back in fall. Here are some helpful links:

Know How:

When snow and ice are upon you, you’ll need some kind of liquid deicer or salt for your driveway and sidewalks. You’ll need a good plastic snow shovel with a flat blade. Metal flat bladed shovels damage the concrete of your driveway. Salt can wear out your car, but it can be used strategically and it can be a necessary evil.

Use a broom to knock off extra snow from windshield and windows. Don’t leave snow on your roof as this chunks fly off at speed and can cause accidents. Work from top to bottom for best efficiency.

Use a scraper, which you can store in your car.

If your door locks get frozen shut you need heat. There are devices on the market like this one that applies heat where you need it. Or see the hack section for a quick trick.

Also, check in the gadget section below for our recommendation for cold weather EDC (post link)

EDC/Hack:

One trick to ice scrapers is getting the right angle and trying both shoving it and pulling it to see which suits your needs.

To open a frozen lock, use hand sanitizer. The high alcohol content lowers the temperature at which water freezes just like salt does, but isn’t corrosive. It’s cheap and available in portable bottles.

#3 Car DIY: Get Better Insurance Rates

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In this Series of How-To posts, we’ll be covering knowing when to do something, how to do something and our own hack to try at your own risk. A big thanks to Tire Kickers, our sponsor and consultants on all things mechanical. They can be found on Facebook, or check out their auto health & safety advice.

(Note: this is the best information we could gather from our research and consulting our automotive advisors, but at the end of the day, our purpose is to entertain and inform. Don’t let us shame you into taking on something if you don’t feel qualified to do it. Trust your gut.)

Know When

Its always a good time to save money on car insurance but opportunities can sneak up on you. So if it’s been two years since your last accident and you’re paying more than $50 a month it’s a good time to look around for a better deal. If you are happy with the service you’re receiving now you can still call and ask for a review. None of our researchers have encountered an actual reward for loyalty at an insurer but hope springs eternal and there’s no harm in trying.

Know How:

We aren’t insurance agents so technically we can’t legally tell you anything about insurance…but here’s a link to common sense ways to get the best price on insurance any time.

If you are searching for a better rate because a blemish has fallen off your record we recommend finding a broker that can represent several companies. Each company tries harder to compete for customers in their target audience so you need to find a good match for you.

EDC/Hack:

For drivers of personal vehicles, you might want to try AAA.

If you drive commercially, either CDL truck, rideshare, parcel delivery or medical transport follow this link to NTC where you can get a host of benefits on everything from cell coverage to health insurance. For taxi and rideshare in OR/WA you can check out OTTIS. Or search around.

We don’t have much experience on Metromile which piloted the pay per mile insurance, but if you do we’d love to have a review of it. Please comment on this post below.

#2 Car DYI: Clean Windows & Headlights

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In this Series of How-To posts, we’ll be covering knowing when to do something, how to do something and our own hack to try at your own risk. A big thanks to Tire Kickers, our sponsor and consultants on all things mechanical. They can be found on Facebook, or check out their auto health & safety advice.

(Note: this is the best information we could gather from our research and consulting our automotive advisors, but at the end of the day, our purpose is to entertain and inform. Don’t let us shame you into taking on something if you don’t feel qualified to do it. Trust your gut.)

Know When

*Windows need to be cleaned when dirty, which is obvious, OR IS IT? Ever had a film or fog seem to form on the inside of your windshield that makes it hard to defrost in fall/winter/spring? There’s actually a mold that forms which creates this. Use the secret formula in the hack below to wipe it out.

*Headlights need wiping off weekly or more often. You can lose as much as 50% of your light by having normal dirt accumulations on your headlights. Whenever you think you might be struggling to see at night, start by wiping or cleaning your headlights. See hack below for the #1 way not to clean your headlights.

*Headlight deep cleaning needs to happen whenever you notice a film forming on your headlights.

Know How:

Avoid using the free soap water and squeegee at the gas station to clean your glass, unless you’re on a trip and desperate. People have a habit of checking their oil and washing their hands in the rinse bucket. They get oil in there which will form a film on the glass that quickly re-acquires all the dirt and makes it hard to see. It’s also hard to get off. See the EDC/Hack below for the best way to get windows clean.

EDC/Hack:

Deep clean headlights by using toothpaste and a clean rag. All the same, reasons it’s safe and effective on your teeth make it the perfect stuff to take the cloudiness out of your headlights without scratching them up.

You can make a cheap and super effective glass cleaner out of alcohol and vinegar, equal parts. It cuts the film on the inside of your windows that clings to fog and it dries without streaking it also removes some hard to remove odors. (note that it’s not good smelling during cleaning, so be aware.) As a bonus, most coffee filters are cheaper than lint-free cloth and leave less mess than paper towels.