Long Road Trip in Old Car

I have a 98 Honda Accord with 218,000 miles. I am planning on driving with 3 friends from New Hampshire to Alabama for our spring break. My parents are adamant that my car will die, but it has no major problems so I don’t believe them. The only thing wrong is that it has a slow oil leak. What do you guys think?

I think you should have the car checked out before you leave and fix anything that’s marginal. Also, bring cell phones, plenty of money (not all for beer)/credit cards, etc. Have fun!

Age only matters if you are wine or cheese! As Craig says, check out the car, fix or stabilize the slow leak, and enjoy the trip by driving sensible and checking oil & coolant at each fillup.

Years ago my younger brother took his buddies from Buffalo to New Orleans for a winter break. Their car was a very tired, but reliable 11 year old Plymouth. They had good fun and were nearly expelled fo returining 4 days late.

'98? Shoot I thought you were wanting to go 'cross country in a '60s model.

When was the timing belt last replaced? If you don’t know, it’s probably past due. The water pump should be replaced at the same time. Those are the sort of things that will let you down on the road. Also check the tires and serpentine belt. Where is that slow oil leak? Cam cover gasket? Oil pressure switch? Get that checked too.

Have fun, and let us know how it all came out.

At the mileage given, I’d want to know when the alternator was last replaced or overhauled. If yours goes south, so to speak, you can get one at a car parts store so bring extra money and tools to change it if needed.

This is not a LONG trip. It’s, what, 1,000 miles, 1,200 max? Thats NOTHING. Your parents are worried for no reason. Your Accord will most likely get you to Alabama and back with no problems. If you do have a problem, you can get an Accord fixed ANYWHERE. Make sure you keep an eye on the oil level. Other than that, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. Post back after the trip and tell us how it went.

Look at it this way; if you continued to drive your Accord around your local area for, say, 3,000 more miles, would you (or your parents) expect it to die? NO! Of course not. A few thousand miles of highway driving is MUCH less stressful to a vehicle than the same number of miles in stop-and-go driving. Take the trip. Don’t worry.

If your parents are so concerned, ask them to let you take THEIR car. That should end the discussion pretty quickly.

Any car can quit at any time. If you had the timing belt changed (if so equipped) at the proper time, ya got nuttin to worry about. Check the oil every day.

If the vehicle apparently runs fine then check fluids, tires, belts, along with a general look-over and it should be fine. As mentioned, the timing belt could be an area of concern if that has not been done in recent memory.

I also thought we were talking about a 40 year old car.
OP, I took an 1800 mile cross-country trip in a 10 dollar Chrysler one time with zero problems other than one flat tire.
One of my bigger mistakes was giving that car away and not keeping it.

My 98 Civic just made a trip that long without incident. Age is not the issue. The issue is whether or not the car has been cared for. Has all of the recommended maintenance in the owner’s manual been performed? When was the last time the oil was changed? When was the last time the timing belt and water pump were changed? When were the brakes last serviced? If the answer to all of these questions is “recently,” I say go for it.

The only part of your plan that I question is, Alabama? Really? What on God’s green earth would make four people want to go to Alabama for Spring Break? Why not Florida?

Agree with the others here, give the car a good look over before taking off. If it’s leaking oil not too badly, just keep an eye on the oil level during the trip and top off as needed. Just did a 1000 mile trip in my '91 S10 blazer with 235k miles on the clock and the old beast got me there without problems.

You certainly should have it checked before you go, but consider this. Your car has made it 218,000 miles, your parents car has not even come close to that yet, which car is proven?

Do bring a cell phone, but I would suggest that for a brand new car off the dealer’s lot, in fact, I would rather take your car than a new one off the lot.

It is actually going to be about 3,000 miles. Thanks for the advice though!

I estimated about 3,000 miles for the round trip. I still think the car is fully capable of traveling that far. You could have problems in a brand new car, so why worry about it? If the car is in good shape, drive it.

I once took a 7000 mile holiday trip in an 11 year old Buick and the only problem encountered was a defective spark plug wire which the Wallmart mechanic repalced for $15, I believe. I would not take a long trip in a car whcih no one wants or can service, and parts are not available. The Accord is about as common as you can get, and it can be fixed anywhere, if necessay. Drive sensibly and enjoy your trip!!

Just have a mechanic go over things before you go. If you maintained the Accord as you should have (timing belt, oil changes, brakes, etc), this trip will be a walk in the park. Just think about driving it around your town/home for the next three months or 3,000 miles . . . same thing, maybe even an easier trip since it will be mostly highway. Check the oil every time you fill up for gas, watch your tire pressure, keep the spped down to match traffic . .and enjoy. Happy New Year! Rocketman

I would take an extra quart of oil in case the leak got worse.

Go for it and bring a cell phone & credit card.

Enjoy your trip. A car with 3000 miles can break down too. I would not worry so much, driving on the highway is very easy on a car if done at or slightly above speed limits.

As the shotgunner on this road trip, I wanted to thank all of you guys for your help. I also thought I’d ask some of the more important questions…

1 - Where should we stop along the way? Weird hokey places that no one ever admits to knowing about.
2 - What song should be on our mix tape(s)?
3 - Any essential paraphernalia that needs to be stuck on our dashboard such as a radar detector or hula girl?

Old car ? I don’t think so. I would trust the car to go anywhere. My 87 Accord is still kicking and I take it on road trips all the time. I would get the oil leak fixed though if I were you. Drive safe and have fun.

Forget the radar detector. It would just encourage you to speed, and often won’t do you any good anyway. By the time it goes off, you’ve already been clocked.

Do bring a cell phone and a GPS if you can borrow one or buy one cheap. A GPS can save you a lot of time and hassle finding things along the way. Need a Wal*Mart? Just punch it in. Need seafood, same thing.

My guess is that your parents are more concerned with the fact that you want to go south on spring break than with your car.

Red neck Riviera HERE WE COME.