My wife has a 2005 Acura TL with 93k miles. She is the original owner and takes good care of the car. She doesn’t travel far very often but occasionally will take a 250 mile trip to the coast. She asks me, “Is it safe and is the car sufficiently reliable to use for a long trip.” It’s always been a reliable car, but as it ages, I wonder if it’s time to get her a new car. I don’t want a serious breakdown that’s expensive to repair, when the car is a 2005. What is your recommendation? My sincere thanks for your sage advice.
Tough call. Kind of depends on your finances.
Anything, on any car, can fail at anytime.
Acuras are generally reliable and 93k really isn’t a lot these days. If you trade up you’ll probably get stuff like auto braking and blind spot monitoring but only you and your wife can decide how important they are.
However, there is the variable of age. A newer car would be worth the expense of repair. Since the car is 15 years old, wouldn’t that be important to consider?
You either trust your car and keep up on the maintenance and keep driving it
You don’t trust it, and replace it.
A 15 year old well maintained with only 93,000 miles, probably has another 15 years and 93,000 left in it
93K on an Acura is barely break-in miles. Sure the age is an issue but a minor one. Age affects primarily beauty items… paint upholstery ect. The engine and trans, if properly maintained don’t care how old they are.
Make sure her cell phone is charged and has a signal for the entire trip and she has the numbers for several tow services along the way.
I’d have a trusted mechanic inspect it. How old (years) are the tires?
I had an '07 with many more miles than yours. The only big problem I had with it was a snapped axle. The driver side axle has a rubber vibration dampening ring on it, and salt got up under it and rusted the metal. Minnesota winters are hell on cars. The part was $250 (new from Honda), and the labor was free because I did it myself. Would have been around $800 at a shop. I sold it to my next door neighbor when I got a different car, and he’s still driving it daily with no problems. I’m a bit wistful that it’s gone - that was one fantastic car.
Yours has a potential problem brewing that mine did not. In '07 they used the RL transmission in the TL to get rid of a transmission failure problem that was in the original transmission. The cause was that the 3rd and/or 4th gear pressure switches would slowly go bad, and eventually would cause enough of a reduction in line pressure that the (usually 3rd gear) clutch would slip and burn out. Most people with your vintage of 3rd gen TL have good luck replacing the transmission pressure switches as preventative maintenance. It’s not a very expensive job even at a shop, and I would recommend that you do this whether you go on a road trip or not. Have them exchange the transmission fluid while it’s in there, unless you’ve done it recently. It should be done every 30k miles.
Beyond that, what I would do in your case just for peace of mind is take it to a good local mechanic and ask them to perform the equivalent of a pre-purchase inspection on it. That should catch any issues that might cause problems on a road trip.
You might click around here to see what problems others owners have had, transmission is high on the list most years:
I’ve had/have three Acuras and all have been very problem free but I never kept them longer than 60,000 miles or so. I have tended to drive cars many hundreds of thousands of miles though but the thing is at that age it is impossible to predict if a problem would develop. Chances are no but things do break from time to time. The other thing is, when I drove high mileage cars, I would drive them 100 miles every day. That tends to shake the cob webs out compared to just driving around town and then heading out on a trip. I guess I would just comment that there is something to be said about driving a new one with a 50K warranty and four year road side assistance. They come get you, put you up in a hotel, provide a loaner, etc. etc. So go for it if you can afford it. Great time to spend money.
One reason why it is difficult to give a fully-reassuring answer to the OP is because the following statement will mean vastly different things to different people:
Without wanting to offend the OP, I have to state that every negligent car owner whom I ever knew was convinced that he/she was taking good care of their car–even when they weren’t.
My question is…
Is this vehicle maintained at least as well as is specified in the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, in terms of both odometer mileage and elapsed time?
All too many people seem to ignore the elapsed time factor, and instead focus only on the odometer mileage factor, despite the reality that ignoring the elapsed time factor can be… deadly for the engine, the transmission, and the brake hydraulic system.
I have kept up maintenance (including 2 new timing belts) on my 1999 Civic. The only time it quit on us was when it ran out of gas. My wife was alone at night and still 100+ miles from home. The low fuel warning light had quit working years prior and she didn’t think to monitor fuel level. Then a couple years later it happened to her again.
Bad things can happen but making it a habit to scan the instrument panel from time to time can keep a small problem from getting worse. Does your wife have this habit? I’m still not sure about mine! She does check the oil when on long trips alone.
On the other hand, maintenance has nothing to do with metal fatigue or parts just wearing out. At 100,000-200,000 miles, parts will just wear out. Unless you pre-emptively replace things that are likely to fail, like I did, you are bound to have a failure of a part at 11:00 some Sunday night in the middle of Indiana (or any other lonely road).
If it was mine I would go for it, rationalizing it just needs to run another 13 hours. Good suggestions above, have a roadside assistance plan just in case?