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My New Mexico trip is looming and I still don't know which car to take

Illustration for article titled My New Mexico trip is looming and I still dont know which car to take
Photo: Akio

I’ve posted about this before: Which car to bring on a 1600+ mile, three week work trip to New Mexico. The obvious, safe choices would be a rental or the Volvo, but safe never really excites me and I’ve had WAY too much seat time in rentals coming up.



The crux of the argument is: Comfort vs Offroad

Land Rover:

  • Large and spacious
  • Known entity
  • Allows for on and off clock offroading


  • Loud on the highway
  • 16MPG on a good day
  • Unidentified vibration may be difficult to fix
  • Cruise control doesn’t work great


  • Excellent to drive
  • 22 MPG+ on highway
  • Comfortable
  • Needs a Win


  • Not completely sorted mechanically
  • Not the most trustworthy vehicle
  • Closes the door on offroad fun

New Developments

Since last writing some things have changed. The Jaguar went into limp home mode due to a suspected discharged battery, but the incident has shaken my confidence in the otherwise willing Jag. Additionally a fault in the CD changer caused the Nav and climate control to go out temporarily, the accessory port fuse keeps blowing even when nothing is plugged in, and if I start it after it has sat for a few days it lets loose an epic cloud of smoke out the tailpipe.


None of these things are dealbreakers... but they are minor worries.

The Land Rover isn’t all sunshine and rainbows either. Mostly the vibration has gone from “annoying” to “worrying”. New steering damper will be in today and if that doesn’t fix it I’ll either need to double down on finding the problem or concede the battle to the Jag.


On the human side, New Mexico has implemented a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all out of state travelers. It doesn’t apply to me, which is... a thing, but it does mean that my friend Taylor rightly going to pass on driving up for offroading on the weekends. Without him will I still do it? Seems less likely.

However, a new co-worked expressed interest (actually just strait up invited himself... but in a nice way) in tagging along for offroading during the trip. If one wants to join I could probably rope a few others in too, which could make for a fun weekend. Annoying that we’d have to wear masks the whole time, but we’re pretty much used to it at this point.


HOWEVER all state parks are closed to us dirty out of staters, though I have no idea if/how that is enforced, so we’d be limited to federal land... which honestly is what we’d usually hit anyway so I don’t see that as much of an encumbrance. If anything state parks are more likely to have things I/we could do in the Jaaaag so it sort of encumbers that rather than the Landy.


Progress on Repairs

The Jag is doing pretty good. I went ahead and splurged for a tint and I have the rear shocks in hand. I’ll either pay to have those done or give it a go myself, depending on time.


Given that it is now blowing smoke (sometimes) out the back, I might opt to change the valve cover gaskets (likely cause?) before I take off, but I need to decide quickly. Also I have questions about those parts prices...

Illustration for article titled My New Mexico trip is looming and I still dont know which car to take
Screenshot: eEuroParts

Also also this is the first car I’ve seen the valve cover gaskets not sold as a set... Looks like I can get all the seals I need for the about $150, which will go down in history as the most money I’ve ever paid for a freaking valve cover gasket kit.

The Land Rover is about 15 minutes away from a new steering damper, which should solve most of its immediate problems. However I really think I should drop the headliner to fix the leaking roof rack before entering New Mexico in monsoon season. Also it sure could use new brake fluid... and maybe pads... and new plugs wouldn’t hurt... and I should really fix the rear lock actuators too.


With the exception of the headliner, none of these are things I couldn’t bang out in a weekend so....

So which are you going to take?

Right now I’m wrenching like I’m taking both.

The safety and utility of the Land Rover is appealing, as is having the option to get out of the city for a while. That said, I know myself and if given no external prodding I really don’t see “leaving my hotel room” on the weekend as a thing I’d do and the Landy’s lack of top end power can get really tiring on these trips. (No worse than any given rental car, mind you.)


The Jag makes more sense in a lot of ways but man it sure has been acting up lately. I get it new exhaust and the CD changer shorts out. I get it a new tint and the gearbox throws a code. I do a full tune up and it starts smoking. This thing is acting like a spoiled child and I’m not into it.

So... uhhh Volvo?


Well... maybe...

Illustration for article titled My New Mexico trip is looming and I still dont know which car to take
Photo: Taylor

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