I will be making a voyage at the beginning of April to Portland from Salt Lake City and would like to know if you think I would make it under the following conditions: I am driving Grandparents that require frequent stops and two days to complete the 14 Hour trip. We would drive their car (a 2001 Buick, LaSabre w/80,000 miles on it) a breakdown could prove to be very distressing. Do I take the chances with the Buick or give a rental a try?
Take the Buick (a basically good car) to a mechanic and have him check it over. Fix whatever is questionable (belts, hoses, antifreeze), which should be not too much.
Then your chances of having a trouble free trip are as good or better than with a rental car.
Years ago I made a 7000 mile holiday trip in a 10 year old Buick Station wagen around the US and Canada. We pulled a small trailer as well. The only problem was a burnt spark plug wire which got fixed over lunch at a Woolco auto center. A Buick can be fixed almost anywhere in the unlikely event you have a problem.
Your grandparents will have to make more pit stops than your car will!
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that your broken-in 80k LeSabre is going to be much LESS likely to break down than a near-brand new rental car. Most catastrophic failures from manufacturing defects occur in the first few thousand miles. Most people I know who are regular buisness travellers have at least one story of an almost-new rental car dying by the side of the road. And assuming the LeSabre has had decent maintenance, it’s nowhere near the age when it’ll start breaking down regularly simply from age.
I make a roughly similar mileage trip several times a year in a now-24 year old Honda and I’ve never had a breakdown en route.
This is roughly 775 miles. The Buick should be fine. Check the fluids before you leave and make sure all maintenance is up to date. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.
I routinely take 500 mile trips in a '96 Subaru with over 132K miles on it. No problems.
Contrary to what many people think, highway driving is NOT hard on a car. Cars are happy to cruise along at highway speeds. It’s much easier on them than the day-to-day work commute.
Take a cell phone and get an AAA membership if you’re worried, but I think a breakdown is a remote possibility.
I was sort of thinking the other way. I don’t know that one could say which vehicle (Buick or a rental) has better odds of breaking down. (Actually the odds of problems are really low either way if your Buick does get checked out before you go).
I was actually thinking - well, what if it does break down. If you go with a national chain rental place it becomes their problem. If you’re in the Buick you’re stuck either having to wait around for potentially expensive repairs, or buying another car really fast, or now scrambling for a rental. If you’re in a rental, someone comes with a new one, apologizes and you’re on your way. You could also easily end up with a minivan which I find worlds more comfortable to ride in than a regular car.
Of course, if it were me I wouldn’t even be thinking about it. I regularly hit the road in cars older & w/ more miles than the Buick without a second thought. I have never (and I’m knocking heavily on wood right now) had anything worse than a flat tire - and that kind of thing has nothing to do with which car you’re in.
You can take the car with as much if not more confidence against a break down as rental car . Provided you take it to a mechanic as suggested, and have all basic operating systems check and repaired as necessary. Can you say that was done with every rental car just before use. ? I think not.
After you have it checked and repaired, drive it yourself for at least a week privately. You’ll gain confidence in it.
Rachel drove her car on a 3,225 mile cross-country trip for her 70th high school reunion:
My in-laws have a 2003 Le Sabre and drive it everywhere. It’s always been dependable for them. By now, I’m sure they have more miles than your car does. It’s mostly about the condition of the car, as Docnick said. As long as maintenance is up to date and it doesn’t need any repairs, you should have an uneventful trip. Well, uneventful in a negative way. Please have plenty of positive events.