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2007 Nissan Versa - 130,000 miles

and still chugging along!!

So, I haven’t been the kindest car owner to my poor little hatchback. I do my best to get regular oil changes, but other than replacing the brakes last year, I have not kept up with most of the manufacturer’s suggested regularly scheduled maintenance. The car has about 130,000 miles. Manual Transmission. My clutch feels a little loose, and I have been noticing a slight grinding sound when shifting (only from neutral to first gear).

Point being – in early April, I am moving to North Carolina, and would like to be as prepared as possible for the drive. I anticipate putting approximately an additional 2000 miles on the old girl over the course of about a week and a half (Minnesota --> North Carolina --> Florida --> North Carolina)

Trying desperately to stay on budget, I am hopeful someone in CarTalk Land might provide some idea of what services are necessary before leaving. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!!

If you are due for an oil change, do it soon, I like to have at least a week before starting out on a trip just in case something was done wrong at the oil change place. Have all fluid levels checked at that time, including the gear oil in the transmission. Just check the levels, no need to change any of them.

If you have never had the coolant changed, then you are a little overdue for that and it should be done too. Its good for 5 years so if you’ve had it done once since you bought the car, you are OK, just check for the proper level in the overflow tank.

Check your tire pressure just before you leave and have the pressure brought up to about 3 psi over the recommended pressure on the placard. This will help the tires run cooler and give you a little better gas mileage. Make sure to use the placard and not the pressure listed on the side of the tire as the guide.

Have that fluid level in the clutch master cylinder checked also, it is easily over looked.

Long trips are usually pretty easy on a car. The tires run a little hotter, that is why I recommend a little extra air pressure. The oil runs a little hotter as well but that should be OK as long as it isn’t overdue for a change. Other than that, most cars like a little road trip every now and then.

Don’t you have the factory maintenance schedule? It should be in your glovebox. I suggest you get caught up on whatever is overdue.

Personally I wouldn’t overinflate the tires. Michelin advises to always follow the recommended pressure located on the door placard or owners manual.

Mike

Fortunately your car has a timing chain (which does not need to be replaced periodically) vs a timing belt which DOES need to be changed periodically…so you’ve escaped a big bill repair bill there…

My clutch feels a little loose, and I have been noticing a slight grinding sound when shifting (only from neutral to first gear).

A grinding sound is a bad sign, and at 130k, you got your money’s worth out of the original clutch. On the other hand, this could easily be cheap: just low hydraulic fluid (very cheap and quite plausible as the only problem), or maybe a problem with the components of the hydraulic system which will be easy and not terribly expensive.

If I were in your situation, about to begin a long trip, I’d want to check out this known symptom. Not sure what you mean by “loose” but if you can detect it, there might be something going on which a professional mechanic would recognize and be able to determine if it’s normal or a looming problem.

If the mechanic says you will need a clutch fairly soon, there’s no reason to wait until you are half way to North Carolina to get it fixed. Get that job done before you go, while it’s convenient, rather than risk being stranded somewhere on the trip and need to spend a lot more time than you planned en route while you wait a few days for a shop to do your repair. Far better to get it done before you start, IF it does need attention.

Get it checked. Then enjoy the trip!