Will my 1996 Honda Civic make a ~300 mile drive?

Hey everyone!

So before I go into the trip, let me give you some general info about my car.
It’s a 1996 Honda Civic, and I bought it used from ebay around a year ago from an auction place. There has been no issues other than some water damage in the interiors and apparently the car used to be in San Francisco. It currently has around 150k miles (The car had 90k miles when I first purchased it). I used to have a job that required a 40 minute commute 5 days a week and I would drive it forward and back with no issues.
I changed the brakes and tires recently and I get oil changes when needed.
The farthest I’ve ever drove this car was from LA to San Diego and it gave me 0 issues.

I have a Las Vegas trip coming up (going to Vegas from LA) and I feel like it would be better for me to drive my own car rather than renting one for way more, but the main problem is – my parents don’t think I’ll make it. Their main concerns are “it won’t make it up the hill” and “it’s going to overheat in the Vegas heat”.

Should I trust their word? They were skeptical about the San Diego trip I went to not too long ago and they were surprised that it made it with no issues. What do you all think? Also, if you have any advice for me please let me know. I’m going to be in the car with two other people, and I have AAA.

Edit: If you need any more information please let me know!


Well I had about 400,000 miles on my Buick and I was driving it all over the state of Minnesota at about 3000 miles a month. Mileage doesn’t mean much to me. The thing is though to make sure things like your cooling system is up to snuff, belts, hoses, battery, etc. I used to just change them out periodically to make sure. Have you done the timing belt?? That’s a big one.

The driving you did every day is one of the best ways to know if the car is reliable or not. I always prefer that to not driving much and then taking it on a trip. But hey, if your folks want to give you a better car or rent one for you, fine. Otherwise I don’t think I’d be concerned for that short a trip.

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Thanks Bing for your input! It gives me a lot of reassurance that your car can manage through so much with high milage.
I got in contact with the previous owner and they replaced the timing belt before they did their trip from San Fran to LA.

I’d do it.
Take a couple gallons of premixed coolant, couple quarts of oil, plenty of drinking water and some food

make sure your tires including spare are in good shape.

I used to drive semi truck, made that trip weekly for 5 years, saw very few broken down cars and most of them were flat tires.

150K is not really “high mileage” for a Honda Civic. It’s past the point of infant mortality and not yet at the point where things start wearing out. Just make sure the belts and hoses are in good shape and the timing belt has been changed on schedule.
A car is just as likely to make a 300 mile trip as it is to go another week of commuting to work.
A Civic is just a likely to take the desert heat as any other car. If you are sweating this, go at night, deserts are just as cold at night as they are hot during the day, you may have to turn on the heater.

If you have a mechanic go over the car before the trip, do it at least a month before the trip, repairs have an infant mortality also that needs to happen during the shakedown cruise before the trip.

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Has the timing chain been replaced? Should be done at about 100k miles. If taken care of these are very robust cars.

previous owners replaced belt prior to la-sf trip? nowhere in posts do i see when that was. yes, before you owned iy

You put 60,000 (90k to 150k) commuting miles on it in the last year, and you are worried about several hundred miles of highway driving? Your parents are worried? Let them. I doubt anything said on this forum will change thier minds.

Have you had the coolant changed? That’s important for a summer trip to Las Vegas. And make sure the tires are at their recommended (sticker on the door frame) pressure when they’re cold.

Check your AAA - the base plan doesn’t cover you more than a few miles from a town.


It sounds like you’ve been taking good care of your Civic and driven it gently & in return it has been very reliable for you. I’d guess there’s an excellent chance it will make the trip as is, based on what you say. Of course that’s just a guess, and the only way to get a good read on this is to take it to your shop for a general inspection service. That’ll tell you what needs fixing now, and what will need fixing in the near future.

The drive from LA to LV involves an elevation gain and this time of year, once you get into the desert, high temperatures. So at the shop who does the inspection ask them to focus on stuff that would be affected by those types of conditions your car is usually not exposed to

  • inspect the rubber parts : cooling hoses, AC hoses, power steering hoses, drive belts, timing belt (which is due for a change-out now since 60 k is when a timing belt requires replacement on the Civic severe service schedule. Most of us who drive our cars on daily short trips should use the severe service schedule. If you don’ want to replace the timing belt, at least have it visually inspected by removing the valve cover and the upper timing belt cover. Any signs of the rubber cracking, replace it before the trip. Air pollution is a leading contributor to rubber parts damage, and, well, you live in LA, so that’s a concern.)

  • Coolant. If it hasn’t been changed in the past 2 years, have it replaced.

  • Thermostat: If it hasn’t been replaced in the past 10 years, do that before the trip.

  • Water pump: Visual check to make sure there are no leaks from the weep hole or the shaft, and that it isn’t starting to make weird noises. If there’s any doubt, replace the water pump before the trip.

  • Tires: make sure you have good tread remaining on all 4, and no signs of damage, bulges, or the sidewall rubber cracking. Make sure the spare tire is fully inflated, all the jack components are there, and you know how to use the jack. If you’ve never replaced a tire on the road, do it in your driveway as a learning experiment before you leave so you don’t have to learn on the side of the road.

  • Wheel lugs: Make sure the lug nuts haven’t been installed so tightly they can’t be removed by hand tools, or that they are rusted to the studs.

Does it sound like renting a car might be the safer approach? … lol … I drive a Corolla of that vintage, a little older than yours though, and I’d probably rent a car if it was me that was taking the trip. I don’t find renting a car to be overly expensive as long as I plan ahead, and price a bunch of rental places first. I get the best rates at non-airport located agencies. Sears used to be my go-to rental car source, as they have Avis and Hertz rental cars agency there. But the Sears near me closed down . But if you have a Sears near you, price what it would cost to rent. Me, I’d want to focus on bettering my Blackjack strategy and which casino has the best buffet, rather than worrying about the car. Plus my Corolla has no AC, and for that trip, I’d want AC. Wishing you good luck and a good trip. I’ve never not enjoyed a LV trip. Very fun.

I think the parents don’t want you going to Vegas and this is the best way they could think of to discourage you…The next thing they’ll say is there’s some epidemic.

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The unknown to me is whether or not the timing belt kit has been replaced. If the belt has never been replaced then it’s an accident waiting to happen. That can happen at anytime excluding the Vegas trip.

Odds are there won’t be a problem. However, the timing belt kit needs to be considered no matter what.