Car check up / tune up before cross country drive

hi! i have a 2005 pontiac vibe (base model, not a GT) with 96,000+ miles on it. I’ve had it since 2009 and have never had a problem with it, but i don’t have its previous repair/maintenance history. i’m hoping to drive it cross country at the end of the month, but i have no idea what to ask a mechanic to check. i’ve done some searching on the boards already and found a post that suggested getting a " ‘timing belt package’ (timing belt, water pump, alternator+a/c+Power steering belts, a couple small oil seals, and new coolant)", but the car in that post was a lot older than mine, so i’m not sure if that’s still something i should get done.

i’m especially nervous about all this since i’m a 20-something female, and that seems to be the universal sign for “please over-charge me, talk down to me, and, in general, take advantage of me”, so i’d like to go in there knowing what i’m looking for and what i need and don’t need so that i don’t get sold things i don’t need and over charged. and no, i don’t have a regular mechanic, since all i’ve really needed are oil changes since i got the car - so i don’t have an existing relationship with a mechanic that i trust.

i really just don’t want to get stranded in the middle of no-where during this drive, so any help/advice that you can give is much appreciated, even if the advice is that i just need a newer car.


At that age an mileage the timing belt “package” is due. Also I would check the accessory drive belt(s) and replace those.

In addition, again at this mileage the transmission fluid and filter change should be done.

We are assuming you have no way to access the past repair and maintenance of this car, so you have to go by the manual, which will tell you to do all these. I’m also assuming you have not done any of these things yourself.

There is nothing wrong with a 2005 car with that mileage; it’s just that cars need regular maintenance and if not done on time, will catch up with you at the most inopportune time and place.

The cooling system should be drained and refilled with fresh antifreeze, and tested for leaks and the condition of the hoses.

Others will agree with most of this.

I would not drive cross country without having this work done. Some years ago we drove cross country with a 10 year old Buick towing a tent trailer. The car also had about 100,000 miles on it . Everything went fine since we had it gone over with a fine tooth comb.

I don’t think you have a belt according to Gates.

I’m a little confused how you’ve done only oil changes since 2009. Doesn’t your owner’s manual call for other service? Regardless, make sure you’ve caught up on all maintenance required at this point.

You’ll want to make sure that all fluid levels and the tire pressures are correct, of course.

I suggest getting any work done pretty soon. You want to drive the car for at least a week at home to make sure nothing was done wrong. (My brother once started an eight-hour drive straight from the mechanic in January, only to discover that something was knocked loose that disabled the heater in the car!)

thank you for all of the great advice!