Should I Pay the $110 for a Trip Check Before Driving out to Kansas in January?


First time poster, I didn’t know CarTalk had such an extensive website!

Anyways, I drive a 2003 Honda Civic and I will be moving from California to Kansas in January. I called my auto place to schedule an oil change and mentioned that I was driving out there, and he recommended their ‘trip tik’ which was a checklist of stuff they look for. The way he was describing it, it sounded very similar to all of the stuff that was done during my 90k service I had last year. All of my belts, hoses, fans, battery, fluids, etc were fine, and I replaced anything that needed to be replaced.

So, is it worth it to pay for this ‘trip tik’? I want to make sure everything is in good condition since I will be driving during the winter, but I also don’t want to pay that much for something that has recently been checked out. Thanks for the help!

I don’t know how many miles you have driven since a year ago. You can get a tread depth gauge for less than $5 and measure your tire tread. If the coolant was changed last year, it should be fine. How recently were the brakes inspected?
This day $110 is not a stiff price if the car is really given a thorough inspection.

It sounds like you have all the regular scheduled maintenance done on your vehicle. Personally, the only thing I would do in your case is to check the tire pressure and add about 3 psi over the recommended for the trip, it helps the tires to run cooler during sustained highway driving.

An oil change usually covers a lot of what the shop is asking you to pay extra for. A good shop will check all your fluid levels, belts and tire pressure/tread depth as part of an oil change. That alone should give you the confidence to make the trip. I do all my maintenance according to the schedule in the owners manual and last summer, I took a 15 day 6897 mile trip with only checking the tire pressure before leaving, on an 02 Saturn that had 257k miles on it.

However if you are a worrier type, maybe a checkup would help you sleep better. $110 seems awfully high to me though, but then you are in California and if the check takes an hour, that is probably fair.

What tires do you have on your car? How much tread is left? Can you adjust your travel days and times to avoid heavy snow?

If you have a timing belt (which depends on your particular engine), was it replaced on schedule?

Make sure you get winter washer fluid into your system well before moving out there.

I’d also add some extra air to the tires, not for keith’s reason above, but because you’ll be driving into substantially colder temperatures. It would be better to add it along the way as needed, but starting out with a higher pressure would be easier.

To answer your actual question, I’d consider it reasonable to pay for a one-hour inspection, but around here that wouldn’t cost anywhere near that much. At that price, I’m not sure.

In my area an hour’s shop time is running $100+/-.
The price sounds reasonable, but if you’re keeping all of your maintenance up to date I don’t think you need it. Your car should easily be able to make the trip problem free.

If your car isn’t prepped for winter, including good tires, that IS a good idea, however. You don’t say where in CA you live, so it’s hard to guess.

When was the battery replaced? If over 4 years, I’d do that for sure. Oh, and as soon as you get far enough east where they sell them, pick up a good snow brush and ice scraper. Kansas gets a lot of ice.

If you know nothing about your car the check at $110 is well worth it. However, since you are pretty well up to date, it’s overkill and a waste of money.

A"Trip Tik" is actually a set of maps showing your highlighted route to the destination. It cones from the French “triptique”. The AAA gives these out for free the last ime I checked.

As others advise, you can do the rest of the checks yourself, but carry a cell phone and credit cards. I’ve had problems with nearly new cars on along trip.

If you are going from CA to KS in the winter, you will probably need an ice scraper some morning in the Rocky Mountains. Regardless of whether you take the northerly (where it’s more likely) or southerly route, it gets cold at altitude. Check Amazon where you can buy one, even if you’re in CA. I just bought a dozen brass bladed ones for $20 last month. Think sharp stocking stuffers…

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Thanks for all the advice so far everyone! My battery actually needed to be replaced when I got my 90k service done, so it’s only a year old now. I did read up about tire pressure and how it should be higher in the winter, so I will definitely be doing that before I head out. My drive belts were also replaced this year.

My tires were also pretty worn down the last time I got my oil changed, so I replaced all four of them this year. I will check tomorrow, but I’m pretty sure the tread on them should still be good.

In terms of where I live, I am in the Bay Area (East Bay) so we do get slightly colder weather than down in southern California :slight_smile:

I note there are a number of Recalls out on your year model Civic. If these have not been done and are applicable by the VIN of your car then I would suggest having them all taken care of.

These are all free of charge to you at any Honda dealer and since it’s a freebie, take full advantage of it.

Stay on top of the weather forecasts. The road conditions in some sections of the country can get downright brutal and it can happen quickly; even in relatively flat areas like western KS.

Are you planning to use I-80 or taking the 5 down through Bakersfield and going across on I-40? I have done both, and I have spent some time snowed in on the northerly route in Januarys past. Not that I-40 can’t get snow at high altitudes too, but it’s more rare. Although the southerly route will require some extra time, it might be easier in the long run. You can cut off several miles if you join US-54 at Tucumcari. It’s mostly two good lane, but it’s also mostly 70 MPH posted speed limits with the occasional passing lane.

Check the weather early and often, just like voting in Chicago.

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MG McAnick, I did click on the top of the page and got your message. I responded; did you not get it?

I am going I-80. My sister and I were debating which way to go, but after searching through various road trip forums and whatnot, it seems like for winter travel, the best route is the shortest route, even though it’s up north. We have allowed ourselves several days for travel, so if a storm hits, we can just get a motel for the night.

ok4450, good idea to check the recalls! I remember one several years ago, but I wasn’t aware of anything else recently. But I will definitely put in my VIN and check to be sure.

As a general rule, weather moves west to east, so if you wait two or three days past the last storm, the going should be pretty good. Its those east to west drives in winter that really get you.

Those new tires, are they all-season? If they’re summer tires, you’ll want to change them out or fit four spare wheels with winter tires to swap on seasonally. You can buy basic steel wheels anywhere, or buy a set of wheels & tires from Tirerack. They come all mounted and balanced, and you just need to bolt them on. The TireRack set would be my choice.