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I'm Loving the Truck in Las Vegas (First Impressions, Cost Analysis)

Costs pretty much the same.

TL;DR - having the Tacoma in Las Vegas and flying back and forth for each trip is one of the best things we've done for the setup in a long time from a quality of life perspective. It doesn't save any money though.

At the beginning of January, I arranged to leave the Tacoma in storage down in Las Vegas between trips. The idea is to keep the Tacoma closer to where it's used for its intended purpose - exploring - rather than using it to drive back-and-forth from the Pacific Northwest every time we want to explore a more accessible terrain during the winter.

This isn't some awesome idea that I came up with. It's based largely on the practice of a fellow explorer, Ken @DVExile. He has been doing this for years after he moved to the east coast but wanted to have a way to explore his favorite getaway - Death Valley.

After three months, here's a quick look at the pros and cons of this situation.


The beginnings/ends of trips are so much more pleasant. I didn't ever really mind the long, 20+ hour drives - I'd listen to podcasts, watch the scenery, enjoy some Wendy's, and then arrive in the wee hours of the following morning. Sure, I'd only get a few hours of sleep that first night and I'd be tired the next day, but that would mostly work itself out by the end of the trip. I didn't register at all how much nicer it would be to arrive 1000 miles away fully rested and ready to explore on the same afternoon as I'd left home.

@mrs.turbodb is much happier. Where I didn't mind the long drives, she hated them. Flying - only a few hour operation - is much more acceptable to her, and that's made entire trips more pleasurable for both of us.

Less wear and tear on the Tacoma. Obviously by flying, we're saving ~2,000 miles per trip on the odometer of the Tacoma. Even though my engine oil analysis in the last rig review showed that it's generally in great shape even with all those miles, over time, this should make it last a lot longer, and reduce maintenance costs (tires, timing belts, etc.) Just as a quick comparison, we'd driven 13,583 miles by this time last year (2022) over the course of four trips, and we've driven only 3,883 miles so far this year having completed six trips!

Less stress when getting home at the end of a trip. One of the things we always had to deal with when driving was ensuring that we left enough time to get home. There was always a push-pull between "seeing one more thing" and leaving a little extra padding in case something went wrong along the way. Getting home was important because of @mini.turbodb - like many families these days, she's only with us part of the time, and we always prioritize being home when she is with us.

Cons (and how I'm dealing with them)

Minor maintenance on the Tacoma is harder to take care of. Previously, between trips, I'd perform a lot of minor maintenance - oil changes, tire rotations, installation of a new PCV valve or other component when the Tacoma was sitting in the garage at home. Now, with it so far away, that's impossible. As such, a few minor maintenance issues have piled up. Right now, the list sits at the following:

  • I need to top off the gear oil in transmission because of the small leak that I haven't fixed yet.
  • The wiring for one of my Diode Dynamics SS5 pods on the bumper needs to be soldered (when I installed them, apparently I only crimped the connections and one jiggled loose).
  • I've had a new PCV valve on hand for the last six months or so, and just need to install it (preventative maintenance).
  • I've had a LutzAuto speedometer/odometer calibration control box on hand since November and just need to install it.
  • My hidden spare key fell off of the truck at some point, so I need to get a new one made. Except that the master key is in Las Vegas at the storage facility.
  • I've had a Honda windshield wiper sprayer for the passenger nozzle waiting to be installed for about a year now.
  • I got a P0120 code on my last trip to Joshua Tree, and while I cleaned the MAF and intake on the trail, this is something that - in the past - I would have waited to do until I got home.

Likely - or at least, my plan for now - is to drive the Tacoma home at oil change intervals. For me, that's about 7,500 miles, and seems like it'll be about 5-6 months. Then, I'll try to have all the various bits on hand that I need to do a few concentrated days of work, before driving the truck back for the next trip, after which it will once again be stores in Las Vegas.

I don't have a vehicle to drive at home. The Tacoma didn't see a lot of driving at home, but I would use it every now and then to run an errand or pick something up at Lowes Depot. Now that we only have one vehicle at home, @mrs.turbodb and I have to do a bit more juggling.

Ultimately, I'm not dealing with this at all - for the most part, it's fine, but less convenient.

Facts (neither pros nor cons for me, but they might be one or the other for someone else)

Cost is about the same or a little less to store the Tacoma in Las Vegas. At initial glance, it might seem like storing the truck in Las Vegas would save a lot of money, but it really doesn't. Rather than write everything out, here's a tabular breakdown of how the costs compare over the course of an average month and year. Obviously gas prices and flight prices affect this the most.

Costs pretty much the same.

It's statistically safer. This isn't one that I think about all that much, given that I consider myself one of the safer/better drivers out there, but statistically, it's much safer for us to fly than it is to drive (mostly due to other drivers).

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Vehicle Storage(7 entries)
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