98 Impreza on a long trip?

Ok. So my boyfriend and I want to take a road trip. It would be from Connecticut to Myrtle Beach. He is concerned that because of the age and size of the car that it won’t make the trip. It just reached 100,000 miles in May, so for a 98, that’s pretty good. It is in decent condition for its age also. The last, and only other owner kept up with regular maintenance, oil changes, etc. There is an exhaust leak somewhere in the car that we just started hearing, so that will be fixed. The struts are being replaced with coil overs, and that will drop it an inch from stock height, and an alignment to follow, and then tires. All that aside, the car is in really good shape, aside from the typical “subie rot” that they all get (it’s Connecticut afterall.) What does everyone else think? I hate to second guess him but I believe the car could make it there and back just fine, which is why all 2nd opinions are welcome.

A 100k miles is not that much. The one thing not mentioned is whether the car has had a timing belt service. If not, it’s way, way overdue.

Other than that I would advise that regular checks of the engine oil be made along the way.

Ditto on the timing belt maintenance. That should be done whether the car is taken on a trip or not.

I’d skip the coil-overs. Even lowering the car just one inch will harshen the ride, not what you want for taking a road trip.

The mileage is nothing but the last thing I’d want to do to that car is lower the suspension and make it ride lower and harsher. Just go stock with stock tires.

The OP can count this as one more vote for making sure that the timing belt was replaced on schedule. Very often on this site, we hear about cars whose owner “kept up with regular maintenance”, only to find out upon questioning that some of the most important maintenance procedures–like on-time changing of the timing belt–have not been done. (Translation=all too many people think that maintenance consists solely of oil changes)

In the case of this car, despite the low odometer mileage, the timing belt should have been changed by 2006, and then once again in 2014. Elapsed time is just as important in terms of that maintenance procedure as is odometer mileage, and on the basis of elapsed time, this car should have had its timing belt changed twice so far.

If there is no proof that the timing belt was last replaced by 2014, then it needs to be done–along with the water pump, the serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners.

It seems that altering the ride height on an all wheel drive is just asking for trouble.

Agree! Change the timing belt if not already done, check out the cooling system, and don’t touch the suspension.

I once took a 7000 mile!!! vacation with a Buick towing my camper. the Buick had 110,000 miles on it and everything went fine.

I strongly recommend against “drop[ping] it an inch” until you get back from your trip. Changes to suspension geometry can and often do have unpredictable affects on handling, and you don’t want to be messing with this while on a trip. An alignment takes care of camber, caster, and toe in, but there are secondary angles like steering angle inclination (the actual angle around which your steering knuckles rotate) that can be affected and that can have an effect on your handling. There are other geometries such as the arc through which the sway bar is moving and the effect on the car’s steering component geometries… I only mentioned one to illustrate. And, if you discover that the new coilovers are too stiff, you’ll be in for one very miserable trip.

One more point to think about. By lowering your chassis height, you’re increasing the articulation angles of all of your CV joints. That accelerates wear. A joint constantly operating at a greater angle wears faster.

I’ll go against the grain. Not that the observations above are incorrect. But there is indeed some risk of problems occurring on a long trip with a car of this vintage. And it could be something that would spoil the experience. I’d at least price out what it would cost to rent a car for this trip instead. When I go on long road trips, that’s what I do. Of course my vehicles are even older. But even if I had a new car, I’d consider to rent a car for a long trip. Considerign the rental car company takes on all of the wear and tear and most of the risk when you rent, it is surprisingly economical when you rent a car by the week. Make sure it includes unlimited mileage. I tend to get better rate quotes if I rent from a rental agency near where I live, not at the airport. And if you can give the rental agency a longer lead time, you’re more likely to get their lowest rates.

I took my 1998 BMW 328i with 140,000 from Colorado to Vermont and back last year. If you don’t do the rental car route, at least join AAA. Leave the suspension stock.

100’000 miles is nothing now days. My Dakota truck has 250’000 and I’d still trust it to go across country. If that’s the Boyfriend in the picture…he looks a little shifty. He’s not a used car salesman is he. Just kiddin!!!
He just wants you to buy a taller car so he doesn’t have to bend so low to get in.

I agree with everyone here.

Keep the suspension stock and the tires.
Get AAA before you leave, just in case.
Check if that timing belt kit was done.
An oil change before the trip and keep an eye on the dip stick at each fill up.

One other item that you should check…when was the transmission filter and fluid changed???

Also before leaving, take it to a good mechanic for a safety check.
He could notice major problems, instead of you finding out half way into the trip.
Or he can say “you’re good to go” and you can drive off with confidence.


I would tell your mechanic what your plans are and ask him to look it over with that in mind. I would do it with my 97 Corolla.