New Car - Cross Country Trip

My wife and I just treated ourselves to a new 2013 Chevy Malibu after our 2000 Ford Focus broke down last week after 200k. We love it, and we’re taking a trip cross country next week for a month and we’ll be driving it from Orlando, FL to Phoenix, AZ. Then we’ll be going to Vegas and Los Angeles and back. Roughly 6,000 mile total.

Should we have a service performed during the trip or can we wait to get back to Florida? Also, I can’t find this E85 gas they’re talking about in the literature for this car. I asked at my local gas station and they said they do not carry any gas with ethanol. Should I seek out at least the 10% stuff or does it not make a difference?

Any other tips or concerns for our trip?

I would not search out E-85 gasoline just as I would not go looking for problems. Your Malibu will do fine on regular gasoline. In fact, the less alcohol (ethanol) in the fuel, the better. (The same applies to the driver). I think you can wait until you are back home to have the vehicle serviced. Stack up a couple of hundred miles before you start the trip, vary the speed (you might keep the cruise off for the first 1000 miles), check the oil before you start out each morning for the first leg of the trip–sometimes a new engine takes a quart of oil before the rings seat–and you should be fine.

Read the owner’s manual re: break-in procedure and servicing schedule. Follow it.

Your car may be able to use E85, but as Triedaq said there’s no advantage to do so. I have found that MPG suffers more than enough do undo any price difference.

This is going to be a high-temperature trip, temperatures over 100 being quite common. Read your owners manual carefully and see if a slightly heavier grade of oil (than the 5w-20 they put in new cars) is recommended for these high temperatures…But whatever, I would check under the hood and kick the tires every morning before you started off…Have a great trip!

“and kick the tires every morning before you started off”. Don’t wear your spiked shoes if you do this procedure.

The only thing I could see doing would be to change the engine oil, check the oil level regularly while on the trip, and maybe add a few extra pounds of tire pressure to the tires to help the fuel economy a bit.

Stops for coffee might be in order because the crossing of Texas will be a big chunk of some of the most mind-numbing and boring scenery on Earth… :slight_smile:

It doesn’t mention much about a break in procedure.

I guess we can just be conservative for the first couple hundred miles and then I do think it should be taken a look at right as soon as we get back.

Unless the car is labeled as a “flex fuel” vehicle, you can’t use E-85 unless you want a couple thousand in repair costs. The badge will be on the trunk. Some Chevs are and some aren’t depending on the engine. I might be inclined to stop at a dealer for an oil change at 5000 miles but you’ll probably be ok. Just check the oil since they can tend to use some oil in the first few thousand miles.

And even if it can use E85 there’s no benefit to using it, so just stick with regular. Remember to check your oil frequently and have a quart of the recommended oil with you.

In addition to the above advice, check the oil with each tank of gas, but do it after the car has sat for a few minutes to allow the oil to drain to the crankcase. New cars often use oil during break-in and there is a good reason to keep an eye on it.

If you just bought it, the mileage should be less than 1000. Check oil level and tire pressure before you leave. Continue to check weekly during the trip. You should have an oil life monitor (OLM) and a tire pressure monitor (TPM). Check both now and see if the remaining oil life will expire while you travel. If not, just drive. I would not use E85. Your mileage will be a lot lower than E10 gasoline. So low that the difference in price won’t save any money. Have a great time!

Nobody wants E85 and even if you have flex fuel capability, the car may not run on it. It will run on it just about every time you use it but why flirt with the .01 percent? You don’t want to be that unlucky family. I wouldn’t recommend that you break in an engine on that lousy fuel either. Be happy that you can’t find E85.

The car currently has 26 miles on it. :slight_smile:

I will check the oil; I always do when on long road trips (a hold over from the 200k mile Focus which was consuming oil).

Can you mix the E85 with the regular gas or would you have to pretty much empty out the tank before switching over to it? I saw that yellow gas cap and I know the curious side of me wants to try it.

If your car is designed to tolerate E85, yes you can mix it with regular gas.

But as others have noted, there is a big difference between an engine capable of running on E85 and you wanting to use it. Sure it may cost less, but it will give you fewer miles per gallon and likely some driveability problems.

I’m not sure exactly what service you’re referring to, but most likely the only possible service needed will be an oil change. Does your owner’s manual give a mileage interval for that or do you have an oil life monitor in the car? If you do need an oil change, there will be less chance of problems if you use a dealer instead of a quick-lube place.

Other than that, make sure your tire pressure is correct. You’ll be driving through some hot remote areas, so keep some water in the car just in case. I’d imagine you’ll be plowing into a lot of bugs, so you might want some window cleaner and paper towels on hand. You should probably hit some touch-free car washes along the way, as bugs aren’t good for your paint.

I wouldn’t experiment with E85 on a trip. Stick with E10 or E0, especially because your range will be much smaller with E85.

Driving across Texas, take at least two, three is better, of milk jugs filled with good water. I live in Texas and we do. My personal opinion is you will need what you don’t have. I predict you will never need that water, but life is too valuable to not take it with you.

Likewise, even if your car does not fail, you may encounter someone whose car has failed, and you can take care of them with your three gallons of water.

I also carry a fire extinguisher. I have long carried a 5 pounder, but here in Mexico there is usually no fire department except in cities, so I updated to a ten pounder. I should be able to handle anything but a gas tanker, heh, heh.

On a long trip, due to low costs now for a cell phone, such as Straight Talk from Wal-mart, i would carry one with me. We bought one last October and sent it in the free recycle mailer when we got home and drove into Mexico. There is almost universal coverage across the US. And, family can call you almost anywhere any time. If you already have one, that is fine.

A few years ago, in January i think it was, I stopped in a motel in Matehuala in Mexico. A couple next to us was returning to Minnesota. The motel rooms aren’t heated, and she had been very cold in the night. I asked her, and she didn’t even have a coat with her. We were used to sleeping in the cold and slept as warm as toast.

Note they had driven across Minnesota in the dead of winter, and she had no coat in the car. I call this sort of nonsense, attempted suicide.

But. a new Malibu? Start up defects are possible, but very unlikely you will have anything go wrong in only 5000 miles of highway driving. That is the easiest miles a car can have.

Make sure to fill up on gasoline with no less than a quarter tank, maybe even half. It doesn’t take that long to fill up every couple hundred miles while hitting the restroom. There are gas stations not that far apart, but I keep full in case of a wide spread power outage. Rare but does happen.

Another trick which works for me, though people may be different, if I start getting sleepy, I have light pop, that is, sugar free but with caffeine, with me to keep me alert. If that fails, i have plenty of Trident chewing gum. When I feel really sleepy, chewing a cud of gum wakes me up. I do not know if that is true for everyone or not.

Honestly, unless you get a very rare original defect, I expect a trouble-free trip. Way back in December 1964, I slapped a rebuilt motor and transmission in an old 1953 Chevrolet, and drove from the Midwest to Seattle, 2050 miles, in 50 hours when the Interstates were not finished. The only problem was a headlight burned out one night The gas station that replaced it said it was an original bulb, from 1953. They could tell by the paint on it.

Everything’s going fine still! We’re in Arizona now and the car’s still running great. I’ve been checking the oil and it’s been pretty stable. It might be a little lower, but I can’t tell.

I bought a window cover our first day here because it’s so hot! We do have water in the trunk, 2 gallons per person and the Blackberry has had service for most of the trip.