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Should I drive the car

3 weeks ago, our Toyota FJ slipped out of gear and flipped over in a ditch. About $5,000 in body damage. My question is…we are getting the car back on Wednesday and we have a road trip planned to Vegas on Thursday. Vegas is about a 10 hour drive from where we live. Should we drive the FJ or should we spring for a rental car?

I would err on the side of caution and rent a vehicle. If you break down because of some unforeseen problem (they do occur) then your holiday could be ruined. I would drive the FJ locally for a while and see if it checks out okay.

Since the car “flipped” I make sure all the fluids, differential, trans, brakes, coolant, engine oil are checked and at the proper levels. While the body shop should do this, sometimes they focus on the body work and forget to do the simple mechanical stuff.

If you pick up the car and you have no time at all for a mechanic to check it over prior to the trip, then renting a car makes sense. If you have time for a mechanic to check it over I’d take the FJ.

Francy, Please Explain How/Why The Toyota Slipped Out Of Gear.
I’m Having Trouble Relating This To Flipping Over In A Ditch. Explain.
The Answer(s) Could Determine The Advice You Receive.

Stuff happens. It might be more beneficial to you for a rental car to slip out of gear nad flip over than your own car. Besides, what happens in Vegas . . .


Ha! Well, we aren’t quite sure - My husband parked the car on a hill at a road-side pull out. He got all of his fishing gear out, opened and closed doors and fished for about 30 minutes. At that point he heard a car alarm, about 10 minutes later someone on the river came up to him and told him the car had flipped. The car was almost completely upside down, it had rolled down the hill, crossed the road, hit a ditch and flipped over. The car was no longer in gear and the emergency break appeared to be 1/2 on. A fireman was driving by right when it flipped over and he did not see anyone else around. Both my husband and I have have always driven standards and have never had anything like this happen before.

Francy, You Can Either Make Some Wheel Chocks For Your Husband, Using The Vegas Revenue, Or Use It To Purchase Factory Made Units.


Did your husband use the parking brake to prevent a runaway car? If not, I suggest that he (and you too) should do so in the future.

I’d rent a car. Why be bothered by worries about your car when you should be worried about losing too much money at Las Vegas … lol ? It will give you an opportunity to test drive a different car for a change. If you like that model, you might decide to purchase one some day in the future. Renting a car for a week is usually pretty inexpensive if you make your reservations ahead a few weeks. I find I get the best one week rental deals by renting at the Avis place located in the local Sears auto repair store. If you have one too in a Sears, be sure to get a quote from them.

Odds are the FJ will be fine but my vote would be for a rental car until the FJ can be driven around a bit closer to home so as to make sure there are no fluid or alignment related problems.

Even on a comparatively low angle grade there’s a lot of stress applied to a gearset in the transmission(assuming this is a manual transmission and there’s nothing lost in translation) and it’s quite possible for a vehicle to pop itself out of gear.
The park brake is also never a 100% guarantee either when it comes to a grade as park brakes are often worn, out of adjustment, etc. and even when working properly a jolt from the car popping out of gear could accidently release the park brake.

If I were boondocking in the future I believe I would take along a wheel chock; just in case. At least no one was hurt so there is some good in this story.

Personally, I’d be more comfortable in a rental car in this situation. Some additional advantages to a rental car are that your FJ can sit in one place while the paint continues to cure instead of having bugs splattered all over it and that you can rent a car with far better fuel economy, offsetting part of the cost (probably around $120 if I’ve done the math correctly).

Better safe then sorry: try to get a rental or borrow another car from a family member or friend if you possibly can. Driving the FJ 10 hours there and 10 hours back seems like an accident waiting to happen.