CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Who has the more reliable car

My husband drives a '91 Honda Accord with 160,000 miles on the car. I drive a '99 Honda Civic with 140,000 miles on my car. We would like to take a 4 hour car ride to the mountains. I say my car is less likely to break down. He wants to take his car because it’s more comfy, less crampy. He believes there is no difference between my car or his car. Both cars have had a general service recently with no problems reported. Both cars do local city driving, with few added miles per week. Timing belts have been changed on both cars. Should I worry we will be stranded on the highway with our young kids if we take his car for long car trips? Is my car the newer car, the more reliable car?

If you 100% don’t want issues, rent a car. Otherwise, this is how I look at it. 500 miles is 500 miles, the car really does not care if those miles are put on in a day or a month. So would you trust his car to drive 500 miles locally over the next few weeks??

If both cars are well maintained they will be good and equally reliable. If you have not maintained them well, rent a car. I have taken 7000 vacation trips with a 10 year old Buick wiyth 90,000 miles on it and had no problems.

You are overreacting to the probabilility of a breakdown.

We go into the moutains nearly every weekend in the summer, and I’ve done it with a 19 year old Chevy with 135,000 miles on it.

Agreed. 500 miles is nothing. As long as both cars are in good shape, take whichever one you want.

Take the car with the best tires. If tires are good on both cars take the bigger car, you’ll enjoy the greater room for luggage, kid “stuff”, and bigger trunk. I have an '03 Civic and I love it, but if the Accord is bigger for a longer trip with kids bigger is better.

If you are very concerned about breaking down, you should have a AAA or other roadside assistance policy.

Betting on reliability between two individual cars is best done by flipping a coin. Then take the bigger one.

If both cars have been properly cared for and serviced regularly either one should be fine. From reading your descriptions it sounds like the maintenance/repairs have been kept up with. When we moved in 2010 I wanted to keep my daily driver ('88 Ford Escort) and it had to be drove or towed from NC-KY, since I keep it serviced and maintained I decided to drive it and it had about 512K miles on it at the time… It was a 10 hour 500 mile trip and I had no problems. If the cars have been properly maintained there’s a slim chance something could go wrong with either car, but that’s a possibility even with a new car. I would drive whichever car I was most comfortable in. Highway miles such as 4 lane or interstate driving are easier on a car than short trip driving. AAA also has a plan called AAA Plus that will tow you up to 100 miles free. I have that plan and think it costs about $79 a year.

So which car is less likely to break down in the next 4 hours of driving regardless of where you go ?
I would just take the car that serves your needs to best and not worry about either…what’s 4 hours ?

There’s never any guarantees - I had a tranny fail on a rental Ford Tempo some years back on a 100 degree day. As to your cars, it’s not like you have a new-ish car and a high mileage car. You have two high mileage cars. SInce you’ve maintained them both, take the one that suits your needs.