Road trip in a 04 Mitsubishi lancer

Ill be going from southern Georgia to Kansas in my 2004 Mitsubishi lancer with 160k miles on it. The farthes ive driven it non stop was to South Carolina. The only real problem i see, obviously im not a car expert but, it does shake a bit at times then eventually it’s smooth sailing. Is it a good idea going through with it? Not too good at explaining, i apologize.

The shaking could be anything from missing to a suspension issue. Any check engine light, uneven tire wear, or specifics of when it shakes, ie braking? How have you kept up with routine maintenance as prescribed in the manual?

You see barkydog the car was a hand me down for a few months now so im unsure to your last question, im still learning. But to the first no engine lights are on and the tires are fine, it does shake when i brake but only at times, you know? Sometimes when im stoping at street lights or on the high way when i have to slow down not crazy shaking and not always but i know cars shouldn’t in the first place. Sometimes it shakes as i increase speed too.

The sometimes it shakes when accellerating seems to rule out brake rotors, no check engine light is good. The legal team of Dewey Cheatem and Howe advise against the journey until you have a mechanic check the car out.

There’s no way of determining what this car may or may not need. In regards to the shaking there could be more than one issue involved.
The shaking on acceleration could point to a suspenion/steering issue, tire balance, or engine performance problem.
The shaking when braking could be due to a brake, suspension, or wheel bearing issue.

Short of a total inspection, all fluids should be checked and the engine oil changed. Fluids should be monitored during the trip.

While always hating to be a wet blanket, there’s also the issue of the timing belt kit. If the timing belt has never been changed then it’s a potential accident waiting to happen. The engine is interference fit; meaning there will be expensive engine damage if it snaps. If this happens midway during the trip you will be stuck and faced with the option of spending a lot of money or finishing the trip by another means after scrapping the car or selling it to someone on the cheap as a fixer-upper.

Okay, thank you. But ill definitely get everything you mentioned checked.

" ill definitely get everything you mentioned checked. "

“Checking” the timing belt is pretty close to useless, as they can appear to be in pristine condition, and wind up snapping an hour later. That is why timing belts are replaced proactively, according to odometer mileage or elapsed time. The typical interval is 8 years or 105k miles, and by either measure this car is far overdue if the belt was never replaced.

As ok4450 noted, the design of this engine is such that it will sustain HEAVY damage when it breaks. And, the engine will perform normally right up to a millisecond after the belt snaps. That is why–if you can’t confirm with hard copies of maintenance invoices that this work has already been done–you need to spend the money to replace the timing belt, serpentine belt, water pump, and all belt tensioners.

This is the type of maintenance that you can’t afford to skip.

Confirm with the one who borrowed you the car that the timing belt was replaced.
Then be sure of what the borrower expects if there is catastrophic damage while so far from home. Know your liability!!!

Then take it to a good independent mechanic for an inspection. Explain about the trip and they should be able to advise you as to weather the car is safe and reliable for such a trip.

Then you can make an informed decision as to weather the trip is safe.

Also check into renting for the week or so that you will be away. If renting is the way to go, then make sure you buy the insurance and have noted on the rental agreement any damage before you drive off of their lot.


RE: Timing belt engine damage

Doesn’t the Mitsubishi Lancer only have an interference engine if it has the 2.0L engine?
I don’t believe the ones equipped with the 2.4L engine were interference.

Regardless, it still doesn’t negate the need to stay on top of the belt maintenance.

Make sure you have a cell phone with you. You can get a prepaid one for cheap if you don’t have one and don’t want to commit to long-term cell bills.

I have done quite a few trips in “beater” cars. I was always prepared to leave the car in case of a major breakdown. Otherwise we are talking checking in a hotel/motel and waiting for a shop to fix your car.

Be mindful of the time of day/night that you are on the road. Being stuck in the boonies at midnight in a blizzard was not fun :slight_smile:

I also second looking into rentals. Most of the time your credit card would have some rental insurance coverage, but you have to check on this. I have an agreement with American Express that every time I rent a car with their card, they charge me $18 and their insurance becomes the primary. This was I can comfortably decline the overpriced insurance from the rental place.

The comment about being stuck (not in the boonies though) at midnight in a blizzard hits home with me. Many years ago I hit Flagstaff, AZ right after a blizzard did. Snow was feet deep and blowing sideways making visibility almost zero. The snow plow trucks couldn’t even keep up.

I managed to make it into an interstate gas station about 12:30 A.M. and had to hole up there until about 4 or 5 in the morning.
Apparently I was the only idiot out and about. The guy running the station had a ping-pong table set up on a service rack so 3.5 hours of bored out of my mind ping-pong later the snow quit and I managed to follow a snow plow out of the mountains.

And in a car that I paid a whopping 10 bucks for back in Garden Grove, CA. Guess I could consider myself lucky for even being in Flagstaff… :slight_smile: