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1998 Mazda driving cross-country

Hey guys,

I have a 98 Mazda 626, which has about 170K miles on it. I am planning to move and would like to drive my car, the total distance would be around 2500 miles. My initial plan would be to drive 10hrs/day, would it be wise to drive this car and if so, what are the things I should take care before I start?

Thanks for your help!

There is nothing special about 2,500 miles. You shouldn’t need to to anything special to the car unless you have been deferring needed maintenance. An oil change and a clean air filter would be good, but you don’t even need a new filter if you changed it less than 20K miles ago. Before your trip make sure you have your tires at the correct pressure, often about 32 lbs for many cars. If your tread depth is below 3 32nds on a tire it might be good to get a new one. So, up to date on maintenance, tires have OK tread, tires are at the correct pressure, there is fluid in the coolant overflow tank (about 1/4 full when cold), and you checked the oil level and it between the full and need to add marks on the dipstick. Good to go. I like to carry a quart of oil and check the oil level every morning and once a day (at a rest stop) during the trip. If you need to top off the oil you are all set to do that without spending $5.00 or more a quart a quickie mart.

Cool!! Thanks for the information.

When was the last time the transmission fluid was changed (if auto trans)? If it’s been around 30,000 miles or more, you might want to do that before you leave. You also might want to get the AC checked if you are driving through a very hot area, like NM, AZ and SoCal. When was the last time the coolant was refreshed?

I have taken questionable road trips in questionable vehicles. Rule 1 make sure everything as far as routine maintenance is up to date. Rule 2 allow for on the road repair time and money. Rule 3 think this thing only has to run for x amount of hours, do I think it will make it? Hopefully the answer is yes, but if not go to plan b.

I did a full transmission flush along with filter change 3yrs ago. So I might just get the fluid change? I did the coolant flush about 6months back.

If you get the ATF changed, you should replace the trans fluid filter, too. It won’t cost that much extra. Your coolant is fine. I forgot to mention the brakes. When was the last time you changed the brake fluid? That should be done every 3 to 4 years. And of course the brake pads should be checked unless that was done recently.

Just do an oil change before you leave. All the rest of the stuff mentioned should be kept up to date whether you are going across town or across country.

“All the rest of the stuff mentioned should be kept up to date whether you are going across town or across country.”

I agree. But if these items have been postponed, now is a great time to get them done.

Thanks all you guys for the suggestions.

Have a cell phone and some GPS or something that would tell you where nearby motels/repair shops/parts stores are.

As others, I have taken a lot of road trips in beater cars. Worst probably was in Northern NY state during a snow storm that changed a 6 hour trip to 12+ hours. Past 9 PM and on a long stretch of the road I was the only car driving and also realized that my cell did not have any reception.