Hello, I have a toyota camry 1999 model with 165k miles on it. I see that the brakes and tyre are in a good condition. I want to make a long road trip on it. Am i good to go in the first place? if yes what measures should I take so that I will be on safe side.
Traditionally, most highway failures were tires; belts; and hoses. Check out the hoses since you didn’t say you had done so. They should feel good, not stiff and brittle, and not collapsed.
Also, check the oil every time you fill with gas. Normally, that would not be necessary but sometimes cars that have never been driven far can develop problems on a long trip. it costs little to verify the thing.
You did not say how long the trip was. To me long trip means more than 3,000 miles round trip.
I do not know if that year Camry had timing belt. If it did, make sure it has been replaced on schedule.
If you are going far in the snow zone, take a container of peanut butter and water to drink if you get stuck out there. I take a cold weather sleeping bag also, just in case. Once I talked in Mexico to a woman in winter who had driven from Minnesota to Mexico, and didn’t even have a warm jacket with her. I call that attempted suicide.
Make sure that all of your scheduled maintenance is up to date (but not too close to your trip). Tell your mechanic what you plan to do and have him or her give the car a thorough inspection to look for any issues. Consider replacing the belts and hoses if they’re original or very old. Consider having the battery and charging system tested.
Even if you prepare as much as possible, there’s still a chance that a car this old will break down, so be prepared with warm clothing and good shoes or boots if you’ll be driving in cold areas.
And be sure to bring a credit card, a cell phone, and an auto club card. The safest way to travel in a blizzard is to wait it out in a hotel.
Knowing where the trip will be to and from would be a huge help here. If you’ll be driving from a moderate climate to a winter climate, there are a lot of things you should do to prepare the car that would be unnecessary in the south.
Yep agree. Long to some is 400 miles and to others 2000 miles. In either case I always felt more comfortable in a car that was driven a good amount on a daily basis rather than one that had limited use. That’s why there are shake down cruises. Some problems just don’t show up until 5-10 hours of continuous driving.
Even with new tires on the car check the spare to make sure it’s in good shape (and actually there along with the Jack and tire iron)
A roadside emergency kit with flashlight, high visibility vest, jumper cables ect would be a good idea. Medical first aide kit could come in handy too .
A map. I’ve had phone and gps fail in the past.
Yeah not a bad idea to check the spare and jack for sure. I had a new Olds and after about 6 months ran over the hook from a bungee cord on the freeway. I went to change the tire and I had the jack alright and the tire, but not the base for the jack. Luckily the asphalt held enough to get the tire changed and the dealer had the part, no charge.
All good ideas above. Besides a flat tire, I’ve had a few break-downs on long trips. A water-pump failed one time, a CV joint failed another time, and a front wheel bearing failed yet another time. So those are things a shop could pro-actively check. For the water pump check if there’s any signs of coolant leaks, esp from the pump’s weep hole. And use a mechanic’s stethoscope to listen for any unusual noises from the pump at idle. For extra credit, the pump’s belt could be loosened and the pump turned by hand to listen for any weird noises or play in the shaft.
For the CV joints, check the four boots for any signs of splits or tears. And any unusual noises, esp clicking sounds, when turning sharply at slow speeds.
Shops have simple ways to check all the wheel bearings with the car on a lift.
On long trips I always bring along spare parts I might need, especially belts. And I bring along a tool kit, basic hand tools and a socket set, including a 1/2 inch breaker bar with the appropriate size socket for the lug bolts. One final thing: Make sure all the jack parts are there and work.
All this seem daunting? You could do what I do for long trips, rent a car instead. I’ve always found rental cars to be good values, especially when renting for the week. One time I rented a car for a month, and that was a good value too. I usually find the best rates at sites away from the airport.
If you don’t know when the timing belt was last changed, it’s overdue . . . all 1997 Camrys have a timing belt, by the way
If your battery is 5 years old or more, replace it now. Don’t want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere some cold sunday morning and the auto parts stores are all closed
The only thing I will add to the good advice you’ve been given is that you should not assume fluid levels will remain constant the entire trip and if for some reason the oil pressure lamp illuminates or the temp gauge climbs to Hot stop immediately until the cause of the problem is sorted out.
Ever so often on the trip while the engine is cold check the engine oil level, engine coolant, etc.
If it will inspire you any, many years ago I took a cross-country trip in a car that I bought for 10 (no typo) dollars; clean title, current tag, and all. I bought the car on Friday afternoon, loaded some stuff Saturday morning, and hit the road Sat. afternoon after checking the oil level.
Not a single problem other than a flat tire about 30 miles east of Barstow, CA at 10 at night.
Also don’t let us scare you too much. It’s an old high milage car so it’s best to be prepared for the worst but there’s a good possibility the car will get you there and back without any drama.
The only thing I would stress…even though it was mentioned…I get an auto club card.
We have always had AAA and we get one free tow per year on each car. Recently I had the water pump fail only 10 miles from my shop and the free tow was more enjoyable than trying to replace the water pump in a parking lot…which I have done.
Belts, hoses, and have your mechanic inspect the entire car…well in advance of the trip.
He could find a problem before you are stuck 500 miles from home and at the mercy of the closest repair facility.
If there was one car to pick for a long road trip with comfort and reliability in mind it would be a 4 cylinder Toyota Camry. Camrys can be fixed almost anywhere if necessary, but they are also sone of the world’s moat reliable cars…
As others have said, get it checked out and serviced and have credit cards, cell phone and an AAA or equivalent membership.
I have made many road trips and have driven across North America 9 times, the longest loop was 7000 miles in a 1966 Buick while towing a camper trailer.
After over 50 years of touring, I recall only 7 breakdowns, the worst was a radiator leak in a State park in Maine. The ranger helped out getting me some stop leak and on my way to the nearest garage.
The stupidest thing to do would be to take an aging Audi Quattro up the Alaska highway!!