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  1. Default Taking a car with 110K+ on a trip around the country?

    I'm planning on taking a trip around the country, totaling about 7,000 miles. I have a 2001 Chevy Malibu with 110K+ miles on it. I've never had any major problems with the car. However, I know it's old and I'm a little worried about relying on it for that big of a trip. If I didn't take the car that would mean paying over $1200 for a rental car- which sounds a little too crazy to me. I plan to get AAA and get my car serviced before the trip. I'm mostly confident in my car, but everyone I talk to seems to think I'm crazy, so it's given me doubts.

    What would you do? Pay over $1000 for a rental car just for peace of mind or take the 110K+ car?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    My primary roadtrip vehicle is a 2001 with 240,000 miles on it, so by that standard your car is a relative baby.

    I also have a commuting car that I drive about 1,000 miles a week that is a 99 with 190k on it. With recent gas prices, I've also taken it on a few shorter (1000 mile or so) roadtrips just to save some money.

    The one thing I would say as a bit of caution is that if your car does break down, it could easily cost you well over $1000 to get back on the road. With a rental, you would have the piece of mind of knowing that your are very unlikely to break down, and if you do it is somebody else's problem - that and you'd be driving a nearly-new car instead of one that is 10 years old.

  3. Default

    Thanks! I'm just really torn about this because $1300 for a rental car is a LOT of extra money. In fact, even if I did break down it still might not cost that much to fix the car.

    If it helps I'm not going to be doing a straight 7,000 mile trip, but I'll be staying at each destination 2-4 days. I also don't plan on putting that many miles on the car per day (considering it's cross country, I mean), maybe 400 or so.

    This is another reason why I'm skeptical about the rental- there will be periods of 3 or 4 days where I will not be using my car that much at all, and I would hate to have to pay all that money just to have it sit there.

    What do you think of that scenario?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default My own!!

    Quote Originally Posted by CrossCountry2011 View Post
    What would you do? Pay over $1000 for a rental car just for peace of mind or take the 110K+ car?
    There are pros and cons with each choice. I have driven vehicles with twice that number of miles on them across country, from coast to coast. As for what would I do?

    My own vehicle everytime! Put the $1200 in the bank, and with AAA, you'll be pretty right for almost anything that can happen. And when it does, treat it as part of the experience. Cars break down all the time, just because you are not on your own turf is no drama. Lots more time to meet the locals and get to know and enjoy their turf.

    Beats the restrictions rental companies put on their vehicles and in their contracts, hands down!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    My *ONLY* vehicle is a 2003 F-150 with 137k on it, and the only thing that would stop me from jumping in it right now and taking a cross country trip might be the tires. They have 70k on them and they are getting a bit thin.

    The people who are telling you that you are crazy must be from my (older) generation - back in our day cars were pretty used up after 5 years or 100k. No more. With proper maintenance, today's vehicles will last 20 years and 300k easily. You may have to put a transmission in it to get it that far, but the engines seem to run forever now.

    Now - if you have been treating your car like a beater and not maintaining it, then you should probably look at a rental. If you decide to take it, unless you are intimately familiar with all the maintenance, I'd advise you to get it looked over carefully by a qualified mechanic and have all necessary work done.

  6. #6

    Default My RoadTrip vehicle.......... a 2002 Ford pickup truck which turned 205,000 miles last night. I bought it used with 96,500 miles and obtained the original owner's stack of service records the approximate thickness of a telephone book, records I've doubled the thickness of over the last 7 years. I drove it to Montana and back last summer (5,800 miles round trip) and to Utah and back in Dec-January (4,900 mi round trip). As long as you're comfortable about prior maintenance and have it properly serviced currently, in accordance to the manufacturer's manual recommendations, I would not hesitate to use that vehicle.


  7. Default

    Thanks for the replies!

    I think I would be confident in taking my car, but at the same time I'm starting to think- I would be struggling enough to pay for a rental car. If something happened to my own car out there I would be struggling even more to afford another car. I'll be driving on many different types of roads I've never driven on before. I've done a little mountain driving before, but it would be nothing compared to the national parks and mountains of the west. Plus there are the deserts to take into account to. So there's just a lot of risk in taking the car out to all these places that would be new driving experiences to me. At least if something happened to a rental car, my own car would be safe at home. (unless my family tries to take over it, and that's almost a scarier thought than taking it across country!)

  8. Default

    I'm just going to throw a couple of things to think about out there. If you rented could you get a vehicle that gets better gas mileage than your Malibu? That would defray some of the costs of rental.

    It looks like you add a little over 10,000 miles a year to the Malibu, so this trip is essentially going to take about a year off the life of your car.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    As long as you're comfortable about prior maintenance and have it properly serviced currently, in accordance to the manufacturer's manual recommendations, I would not hesitate to use that vehicle.

    I totally agree with this. Plus, at the end of the day if your vehicle is going to need maintenance, it's going to need it whether you are on a road trip or at home. Admittedly, covering a lot of miles in a short amount of time might bring on any 'issues' sooner, rather than later, but than again you will have $1200 to 'play' with saved on the rental. Generally speaking, I would say that cruising along highways will put far less strain on your vehicle than it would in stop-start City traffic.

    If your vehicle passes it's 'health check' and you are reasonably confident, I wouldn't hesitate to take it either.

  10. Default

    Thanks for all the advice!

    It definitely makes me feel a lot better, if I do decide to take the car. But I think I'll end up taking the rental. I'll be getting my car serviced soon and see what the mechanic says, but there's so much risk in it. It's just nice to know that with a rental car if something happens, it's the rental car and not my own. Also, if I was just going to come back and just be driving around the city with it until it dies, I might take it, but I might have to be driving fairly far for a job this fall and I know that will wear it out too. And who knows where I'll find a job after college. I want the car to last as long as possible, and while I would love the comfort and pride of being in my own car for the trip, I'm starting to think getting the rental will be more worth it. Plus it's true, I probably will get better gas mileage with a newer car. And better air conditioning! With help from my road trip buddies to cover the costs, it shouldn't be too bad.

    Has anyone here rented a car for a long road trip like this? Did you like that experience?

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