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Long Road Trip: Relatively Newish Car or Rental?


I am wondering if anyone out there can give me the straight dope about what I should do with respect to the following situation:

I have a 2007 Honda Civic LX with 2800 miles on it. I am planning to take a 10-day road trip from Birmingham, AL to the Grand Canyon and back this summer. I have read Click&Clack’s road trip preparation advice and intend to take the car to the mechanic, bring along extra fuel and a real spare, but. . .I am wondering if there are any good reasons not to take my own car on this trip (e.g., due to potential wear and tear and loss of value) and to take a rental car instead. However, if I take a rental car, then I cannot guarantee that the car has been checked to Click and Clack’s specifications. What preventative measures should I take if the advice is that I should rent rather than drive my own car?

Any input on this matter would be greatly appreciated and I thank you in advance for your reply.



I say just take your own car. It won’t cause any real value drop and besides, the point of owning a car is to be able to drive it. I also don’t think you really need to have your car inspected by a mechanic because it’s practically brand new. If you had a car that was a little bit older you might want to get it inspected but just make sure you have your oil changes up to date, your fluids are filled to the proper level and that your spare is aired up.

I’m not really sure why you would want to take along extra fuel and a full-size spare tire. You really aren’t going to be that far off the beaten track. Assuming you keep the car another three or four years, the addition of another 4,000 miles is going to be totally insignificant. I would probably just drive it and plan on getting the oil changed while I was gone.

I would take my own car.  That is why you bought it, enjoy it.   Cars today are good for 300,000 miles, chance are you will change cars long before you get close to that.  One trip like you are planning is not going to make a difference. 

 I would not bring extra fuel.  I would suggest a cell phone.  That is what they are for.  Running out of gas is not really likely and if you did, you could still call for help, as you could for any other reason.  The fuel would only help if you had a fuel problem and it could cause a fire hazard.  Leave it at home for the mower.

Just get the oil changed prior to the trip, make sure that the tires are properly inflated, bring a cell phone, and enjoy your newish car. It is very unlikely that you will have any mechanical problems on the trip, and as was said, it really doesn’t need any attention from a mechanic, other than verifying that your fluids are all properly filled. When you return, have the oil changed when it is convenient.

At 2800 miles, you don’t need to do ANYTHING, except maybe check the tire pressures, before driving to the Grand Canyon. You don’t need an oil change until you reach the mileage specified in your owner’s manual. Drive and enjoy your Civic. You will get GREAT gas mileage.

Why did you buy a new car? So you can rent one for trips? How absurd!

I join the other voters. It is unanimous. Take your vacation in your Civic. It is ideal for that purpose. And leave out that silly full-size spare and gas can. Throughout your entire journey you will constantly be surrounded by civilization, like it or not.

2800 miles is a bit early, based on the odometer mileage, but since the car is a 2007 model, it is probably due–or perhaps overdue–for an oil change, based on elapsed time. Also, if the car reached the appropriate odometer mileage for an oil change while on vacation, then the OP would have to interrupt his/her vacation for an oil change at an unknown venue. In that type of situation, many people would opt for Jiffy Lube, because of their ubiquity, despite the increased chance of a screw-up at one of those places.

One of my personal beliefs is, “simplify your life”. By having the oil changed prior to the trip, the OP should be able to enjoy an uninterruped vacation.

I took a long road trip across Canada a couple years ago in my 2002 Hyundai Accent. I did nothing except change the oil before I went, and once while on the trip. I also took a small can of gas with me, because there are places in Northern Ontario where there are no gas stations for several hundred kilometers. Thankfully, I didn’t need the extra gas.

All that said, you won’t need a full-size spare or a can of gas. You also don’t really need to take the car to get checked by a mechanic. If anything goes wrong, it’s covered by warranty, and can be serviced at any Honda dealership on your travels. So take your own car and enjoy the trip.

Thanks so much to all of you who have responded.

My motivation for initiating the thread was my mother telling me I was insane to take this car on such a long road trip, because I
need it to get back and forth from work. But I live within 2 miles of my workplace (in Birmingham it really does get
too hot to walk or bike to work, or anywhere for that matter) and so my car has only been used for that purpose and 1 trip
to Atlanta. If I never take a road trip, this will be all the car will be used for, with only 2,800 miles at most being put on it
each year that I have it.

Now, I think my mother is insane. But this doesn’t change the fact that mothers manage to exert their psychological holds sometimes even despite such awareness. So, I wrote to all of you in the hope that you could tip the psychological balance, which I am happy to report, you have.

And no worries, I won’t bring along extra fuel. I had meant to write extra fluids (e.g., oil, coolant), but I was a bit tired when I wrote the thread. And given all of your replies to the thread, these things are unnecessary, too. I’ll definitely have the oil changed on the way, and the air pressure in the tires checked – and maybe if I can get over my superstitions about Jiffy Lube, I will take it there, otherwise I will just make an appointment at the Honda Dealership in Flagstaff.

Thanks again!!!

AVOID JIFFY LUBE!!! Do not go there even to get directions! The road trip won’t hurt your car, but Jiffy Lube certainly can.

okay, you have convinced me! Honda dealership only.



“I live within 2 miles of my workplace (in Birmingham it really does get too hot to walk or bike to work, or anywhere for that matter) and so my car has only been used for that purpose”

I hope you realize that this is the absolute worst type of use that a car can be subjected to. Refer to the “Severe Service” or “Extreme Service” maintenance schedule in your Owner’s Manual for information relative to this.

Your car needs to be serviced according to an elapsed time schedule, not according to the odometer mileage, due to the type of use that your car gets. (The manual may say something like “every 5,000 miles or 6 months”. In your situation, use the “six months” advisory.

And, most important of all–since your motor oil is currently likely to be highly diluted with combustion-related condensation that is never burned off as a result of the short trips, DO NOT take the car on an extended trip before changing that oil!

Thanks. The oil was changed in May. It is supposed to be good up to 6,600 miles. I intended to take it to the Honda Dealer early this week in any case just for peace of mind.

I realize that the type of use I am subjecting the car to is the worst kind, but what can I do about it? I have a demanding job and so, very little free time for longer drives (and definitely no time for longer drives before and after work). So, what do you suggest I do? (Apart from your suggestions about oil changes)?

I’d take your Civic. You can wait on the oil change until you return and you don’t need a full size spare or extra fuel. Start looking for gas when you are at about 1/4 full or so. That should give you well over 100 miles to find a gas station. You will have less than 7000 miles on it when you return, still very low mileage for a year-old car. You might consider joining an emergency road service club. Your insurer may have one, and there’s always AAA.

The accumulated condensation from combustion is never “burned off” in either your engine or your exhaust system. For the sake of the engine, I would suggest changing the oil at least every 6 months.

Having a car sit without being driven only taxes your battery. Your type of driving taxes the motor oil (with resultant engine problems), the battery, and the exhaust system. More frequent oil changes can help to preserve your engine, but nothing will preserve the life of your battery and your exhaust except for driving the car for at least 30-40 minutes once each week. Try to schedule a drive of this type on weekends, as it will pay off in the long run.

If you’re having service done in Flagstaff I’d recommend R&A over the Honda dealer. They’re top notch and probably cheaper. I had them work on my daughter’s Honda Civic before I bought it and drove it back to Virginia. They did great work.

When I lived in AZ I was happy to have a full-sized spare in my car. There are lots of places where it is a long way between places where you can have a tire repaired or buy a new one. I don’t know if I would bother to get one for a summer trip, however. As for fuel, you don’t need extra, but you might need to adjust your mind. In some areas it is a lot longer between fuel stations than you might be used to around Birmingham. Just keep aware of what the map tells you about the next gas stop when ever you are headed out of town.

Be sure to have a hat and lots of water with you. Note that my parents visited me several times when I lived in AZ and they called it “the windy state.” Sun screen is a good idea too. It only takes a few minutes to burn fair skin in Flagstaff in the summer due to the altitude.

Thanks. Will try. Today I even gave someone a lift to the airport and made a point of driving for at least 30-40 minutes without shutting off the car.

Thank you for the recommendation!