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I would like to drive from Houston to Los Angeles to San Fransisco and back

As many of you know, I have a 2007 Chevy Cobalt in good condition. I would like to drive from Houston to LA to San Fransisco and back.

My plan is: Houston to San Antonio 700 pm to 1100 pm. Stay at my friends house overnight.

Next morning leave at 400 am from San Antonio. Start and drive to Phoenix, Arizona. thats a 19 hour drive across pretty much nothing in Texas…flatlands and a few mountains.

Phoenix, we have another relative…we stay at their house overnight .

Then Phoenix to Los Angeles is a 6 hour drive.

On our way back, we’ll go from LA to Las Vegas to Grand Canyon to Phoenix and back.

Tucson shall be on the way somewhere.

LA we have relatives and friends…we stay there, visit around ,see the city, say Hi to Paris Hilton and Jay Leno.

What are the considerations in this? What should I watch out for? How do I combat overheating in the vehicle, which will inevitably come up?

Me (26, M) and my mother (53, F) are in this trip. My mom DOES NOT drive in the US.

The anticipated good:

Grand Canyon! Las Vegas! Tucson! My own car —save on rental money, air tickets. Comfort in driving around and NO INCONVENIENCE in getting a new car. NO rentals required , none of that 40$ a day fee.

Grand Americana experience as seen in the movies (I’m Indian)


My mother doesn’t drive; my moms 53 …and is a little opposed to this plan.

Driving tiredness-----quite a LOT!

More positives: LA to San Fran. No rentals required…we dont need to go out of the way to get rental cars and then do this and that and all sorts of logistical hassles. We just need supplies and a GPS.

Oil just got changed on the car. I shall get the brakes and the other things done as well.

The cooling system and other things are currently working fine. I shall, though get my dealership to check the car out tomorrow and ask them to replace the necessities.

I wouldn’t like to spend much money…and want to take my own car for the comfort factor in using your own car.

You may be young enough for the second leg but your mother is not. 19 hours is too much over flat uninteresting country with one driver. Our latest drives from MN to Ohio is 12 hours with an alternate driver, and that’s grueling to do in one sitting. Split it up into two days and relax in a motel. You aren’t spending money on anything else so don’t push it. That’s when accidents happen after 15 hours of boring road.

As far as the car, if your cooling system is up to par, there should be no over-heating issues, particularly at highway speeds. Belts, hoses, tires, etc. OK?

I’m a believer in renting a car to do this sort of trip. Put the miles and the wear on a relatively new car with all the options working fine. Why wear out your tires and your car? I just did a search on Hotwire and you can rent a car for 2 weeks, starting and ending in Houston, for $400. They don’t care how many miles you drive.

You can do this trip just fine either way, but the San Antonio to Phoenix run, without a sleep break, is too much for a single driver.

LA to San Francisco takes 6 hours if you stop for a bite.


Bread, Jelly (Jam) , Peanut butter, Cucumber sandwiches, assorted chips and snacks and crackers,
fruits—apples oranges and the like.

Other stuff—stop and eat!

Have you thought about camping instead of hotels? I am one who cannot understand paying $80 or more just for a bed to sleep in. You could get a tent and a couple of sleeping bags, stay in state or federal parks for $10 - $15- $20 a night depending on where you are, no reservations required. AAA has campbooks and tourbooks to tell you where these places are if you are a member. I don’t know if your mother would go for that, but if so, you could save a lot of money.

P.S. My father and I once did Dallas/Ft. Worth to El Paso in one day, back in the 80’s. My father did all the driving because I was too young to drive. I’ve also done Baltimore to St. Louis in one day, both alone and with my father. The last time I fell asleep behind the wheel and it was only by the grace of God we didn’t drive into a tractor trailer. Dad never let me live that down. I understand the urge to undertake such a drive, but 19 hours driving in one day is just too much. I wouldn’t want to do it again.

A 19 hour drive? Okay, so that’s over a thousand miles. Everything about your plan says “trouble.” Dot or feather?

His 53 yo mother in a sleeping bag? Riiiiiiight.

1.2 billion Indian, Indians. Dot.

Thanks for the ideas. Please let me know more. Any links with this sort of stuff done already???

Also, from San Antonio, we shall drive to Carlsbad and stay the night there. 8 hour drive.
THen the next day, 8 hours from Carlsbad Caves to Phoenix, AZ.

In NM, I shall see ROswell, Carlsbad, the White Sands.

In AZ; tucson, meteor crater, grand canyon then Las Vegas and then LA.

A 3 year old car that’s been taken care of for a 4,000 mile road trip should be a piece of cake. Most people drive their cars 15,000 miles a year, in stop-n-go traffic, with minimal maintenance. Open road driving is even easier on the car than most commutes.

Why do you believe overheating will eventually come up on your car? I have a 2000 Ford Explorer with 206,000 miles on it that has NEVER overheated. I take it on road trips all the time. I usually average 2,000 miles round-trip on my twice annual drives to Florida and back. I use the A/C even in the summer drive, and have yet to have a road problem. Keeping up with proper maintenance is the key.

My only concern is the 19 hour drive between San Antonio and Phoenix. As others mentioned, plan on an overnight at a motel. 10 to 12 hours of driving is the most you want to pull alone. I managed 14 hours once from Tennessee to Minnesota, but was fighting sleep for the final 2 hours. Never again. That was in a 12 year old Toyota Pick-up with 275,000 miles on it.

The only thing I would worry about is the car. Have you kept up with all the maintenance listed in the owner’s manual plus (If an automatic transmission fluid changes at 30-40,000 miles?

I have made many trips like that or longer. Like a trip from Ohio To Mexico City with me my brother a friend and my father.

Bring a cell phone. I recommend them for any long trips. You never know what might go wrong so having communication is important.

The car should be fine. There is no reason to expect overheating. You are just going to need your next oil change faster due to all the miles driven on the trip. This kind of trip is actually “easy miles” on your car.

In an earlier post you asked about 30K service. I’d get that new air filter and new wiper blades before the trip and whatever else you determined needed to be done. Make sure the tires have good tread and are at the correct pressure and off you go.

A cell phone and AAA, or another roadside assistance plan, is a good idea. While all should go well it is nice to know who to call if you should encounter a problem.

I think you should go. Since you will be abducted by aliens in Roswell, it doesn’t matter about the rest of the trip.

BTW, my daughter uses our Cobalt to drive from MD to SC and has no trouble with the trip. It’s about 8.5 hours. I’m older than your mom, and drove the Cobalt down in August and wasn’t overly fatigued by the drive - and this time it was 9.5 hours.

The only problem I see is that potential 19 hours straight by one driver; even a younger one. Around the 12 hour mark (and especially in a mind-numbing place like west TX and NM) things may start getting a bit blurry and the attention span may start disappearing.

I drove straight through from Los Angeles to OK once in my younger days and it took me 28 hours. The last 8 hours I can barely remember and once back in OK I avoided cars like the plague for about 3 days afterwards.
You should consider breaking a long stretch like San Antonio/Phoenix up a bit. Slow the pace down and get a motel.

My wife is 53 and I’m older then that…and we go camping all the time…Granted it’s a pop-up…but still in sleeping bags…and we were in tents just 5 years ago.

The only complaint I have is the 19hr of driving…I’ve done it…and even when young it’s NOT fun…

I see no reason to rent a car. If you have a good running vehicle then why rent one…I wouldn’t hesitate to do that trip with either of our vehicles and my starting point is NH…


my car doesn’t have cruise control. Chevy Cobalt LS. :smiley: :smiley:

Whatever did we do before cruise control. A similar drive to SC from MD used to take 14 hours with no interstate, no cruise control, and no AC. Fortunately, I was just a passenger at the time and could sleep much of the time.

yeah, I agree. Texas can put you to sleep even if you’re not tired. The long straight roads across literally nothing tend to hypnotize you after awhile. And a 19 hour straight drive over any country is way too long. Not only is it dangerous, it’s just plain miserable.