I am planning to drive my 2003 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor from Madison, WI to Seattle/Redmond, WA at the beginning of June and drive back after 3 months. I am a 30 yr old grad student. I grew up in India and have been driving in the US for 3 years now. However, I have never made more than a 400 mile trip by road. I have a few questions and I would really appreciate it if you could answer.
1) I am the 4th owner of the car, which I bought in mid-2014. It has broken down on me once in late-2014 because the connection from starter to the battery somehow got disconnected. Since then, every 6 months, I had to spend on something - rusty catalytic convertor, brake pads replacement, wheel hub replacement for one the front tires and some oil leaks, fixing a faulty spark plug which caused a check engine light, new tires. Now, my car has 4 brand new tires (1 month old) of decent quality with no signs of engine problems, and no air conditioning. The previous owner of this car made 2 trips from Wisconsin to California and back in 2012 and 2013 (around 20,000 miles ago). On his second trip back, the AC broke down. I am a very light user and have added only 5000 miles in 1.5 years. I will make sure to get it thoroughly checked before I make the trip each way. Despite that, I worry that the car will break down for a reason that cannot be caught ahead of time. What is your opinion? Should I take this car along? I really would like to have a car with me for the 3 month stay in Redmond, WA
2) I am considering a 4 day, 3 night trip with overnight stops at Mitchell (SD), Gillette (SD) and Missoula (MT). I plan to make a detour to visit Mount Rushmore, and perhaps a 1 day visit to Yellowstone. If I decide to skip Rushmore trip, I can go via North Dakota. Madison - Fargo - Miles City - Missoula - Seattle. Distance between each of these towns is about 450-550 miles. Which of the two routes make more sense if I am not particular about visiting Rushmore?
Please let me know your thoughts. It would really help me plan better.