Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Critical Parts to Carry When Taken a Long Trip in an Old Dart

Having owned many MoPars from the 60’s over the years, I felt compelled to add my 2? to the list off vital parts to carry along. The guys were quite right to suggest points & condenser, alternator and fuel pump. To that I would add distributor cap and rotor, water pump, starter and all belts and hoses.

But most off all, a BALLAST RESISTOR is indispensable when out on the road. It’s a little piece of ceramic with a couple of wires going to it that can easily be carried in the glove box. When one of these fails, you are dead in the water, as there’s absolutely no way the engine will fire.


My first thought was “tow a SmartCar”, and the bicycle suggestion is really the best, but in the spirit of “MoPar or No Car” how about this:

Why not INSTALL new points & condenser, distributor cap and rotor, and all belts and hoses, since you’re buying them anyway? Then take along the old parts in case any of the new ones turn out to be defective. There’s no need to turn the trip into a survival exercise. Why change parts on the road when you can do it at home with a cold beer nearby?

By the way, what does the ballast resistor do? Nevermind, I just looked it up. Good call.

Good suggestions! Having owned a mid 60s Dart and driven it hard on the Interstate, the fan belt comes to mind first. Then those little 13 inch tires were really overloaded, especially with the V8. I would carry 2 spares. New points, condenser, a set of plugs.

Cell Phone and charge card.

The point is if the driver does not know what the answer to the question would be, then he is going to be better off with the cell phone.

So your approach is if the person asking a question doesn’t know the answer to the question, the helpful thing to do is not answer the question?

You do know there are places where cell phones don’t work, right? I know the answer, so you can go ahead and answer.

You forgot timing light and tachometer.

Absolutely right, I still have one on my parts shelf. I always carried one in the glovebox and got many a Dart or Valiant owner going again. They used to be $2 or less.

No phone reception? That is what the bicycle is for.

Start pedaling and lose the attitude. Mr. Meehan is a wealth of knowledge and better yet, wisdom.

Joseph’s point is that it’s impossible to predict what, if anything, will break down on any car that we can’t see and inspect. Since whatever we tell him to carry has a good chance of being useless when something that we didn’t tell him to carry breaks, it’s better to tell him to carry a device with which he can summon help, to get the part that he actually needs.

Like you said, prepping the car BEFORE the trip and carrying the old parts makes a lot of sense. I was just responding to the way the original question was framed and made the assumption (perhaps erroneously) that the car has been well maintained all along. Either way, it’s definitely a belt AND suspenders kinda thing.

I suspect that you haven’t spent much time behind the wheel of an old collector car, Mr Meehan. You’re answer may work with a modern car, but long drives in something like an old Dart require a different mindset. The caller was planning a cross country drive here, and will be more than a short tow away from home if he has breakdown. Your Gold Card won’t do you much good if you’re in some one horse town in the middle of the nowhere and the local parts store doesn’t stock a fuel pump for your 47 year old car (imagine that!). Then you’re up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

I drove all over the northeast going to car shows in my wonderful old '66 Belvedere during the 1980’s, and having these parts my trunk made the voyages carefree. Sounds to me like you’ve probably never picked up a wrench in your life, and are very quick just to throw your money around. That’s okay: repair shops LOVE guys like you!

Sure, why not? All told, these parts will take up very little trunk space and provide cheap insurance. Heck, since he’ll have someone following along in a pickup, I’d even throw in a hydraulic floor jack and a couple of jack stands.

Agree; the life expectancy of Dart components was not all that long. One very cold day in December we left my in-laws place in the Dart with 50,000 miles on it. It was maintained by the book up till then.

On the freeway the alternator (original Mopar) let go with a loud scream. Luckily we were very close to a Highway Truck and Car stop, since there were no cell phones then. I walked 1/2 mile to get there and the tow truck picked up the car with shivering wife and baby.

How soon we forget the short life expectancy and low reliability of those items in the past. So, carry a spare alternator or have a new one installed and pack the old one.

Yeah, those were the days, oltimer11. I sold quite a few of them from the other side of the counter. Haven’t priced 'em lately, but even if you have to spend $20, it’s still cheaper (and less embarrassing) than a tow!

LOL! Try that on the 15 between LA and Las Vegas and let me know how it works out for ya!

Oh, yeah, I forgot. A thermostat, gasket, radiator cap and a tube of silicone form-a-gasket, preferably high temp.

Who leaves the house, much less goes on a long trip without a cell phone and credit cards? Pants! They’ll need pants! And a driver’s license! Some money! They may pass a store! And a shirt for restaurants! Toothbrush!

Car charger for the cell phone.

“So your approach is if the person asking a question doesn’t know the answer to the question, the helpful thing to do is not answer the question?” No attitude, just suggesting unhelpfulness.

Perhaps that was his point, but that’s not what he said.

Assuming we’re still talking about ballast resistors here, this thread has been helpful to me in that I now know they exist and why they’re needed (because I looked it up, yay me!)

I already knew of the existence of cell phones :wink: