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  1. #1
    NY Joe Guest

    Default Cross-country Driving Issues

    Hi everyone -

    I'm a new member of this board, but I've been looking at this site for a while now and would like to say thanks to all the posters - the advice given and all the information provided has been such a great help for me as I plan for my first cross-country trip that I will be taking this July.

    To describe it briefly, I plan to spend a month traveling from upstate NY to CA and back. The first leg of the trip I plan to take a southernly route through Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, then head back home across the northern part of the country.

    A recent post asked for advice about specific cars good for long-distance driving, so I wanted to ask a question I've been debating in my head for a while. My Plymouth has about 125,000 miles, but it is reliable and my mechanic assured me I shouldn't have any problems taking it this big trip. The only part of it that isn't quite reliable is the AC which doesn't function properly all the time (and it has been checked/fixed a couple of times, without the exact problem being pinpointed). My concern is that it'll go when I'm in the desert (where I plan to spend a good deal of time).

    Ideally, I would rent a car, but it would cost roughly $3000 since I am less than 25 years old. If it came down to it, I could afford it, but it's just so high for a month rental.

    I guess my question is should I look for a newer car to purchase and take on my trip? Or should I stick it out with my current one - make sure the AC is working before I depart and hope it doesn't fail in the desert? Or do I spend the money and rent a car?

    I've been leaning towards selling my car and buying a used one (I'm on a limited budget - I could probably only spend $5000 max on a newer car); however, something tells me its not time to get rid of my current car yet.

    Thanks for any thoughts you might have. I appreciate it.

    - Joe

  2. Default But it's a DRY heat...

    Hi Joe, welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!

    If your car is otherwise in good condition, (while others may disagree), I personally wouldn't trade it just on account of a possibly faulty air conditioning system.

    I grew up in Arizona and have lived here all my life. I live and play in 110-115 degree heat, 3 months out of every year. I never had refrigeration in a car until I was 20 something -- I can't say I wasn't uncomfortable at times, but as long as you're moving and the windows are down, you can live with it. In crossings of the Mojave Desert, we would take terry towels and soak them in ice cold water from the cooler -- then drape them over our heads and necks! (Hey, don't laugh, it WORKS!) You can deal with it, so save your money to have FUN with while you're out here!
    Desiccated Bob

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Ontario Canada

    Default You'll live

    I've taken a few trips in that area with no A/C. It's a "dry heat" :-)

    Not worth the expense of a rental car just to have A/C. Have a great trip. Sounds like fun.

  4. #4
    NY Joe Guest

    Default Thanks

    Thanks so much for the advice, Mod. Bob and Syv

    Having never been to the desert, I read some accounts of people who have traveled through there, and some claimed it would be unbearable to drive without AC. I thought I would be able to manage without it, and you indicated that.

    Again, I appreciate the help. Looking forward to asking more questions and sharing my thoughts on this great board.


  5. #5


    The advantage to getting a rental car is that the rental company is responsible for any breakdown/repairs that the car might need while you are thousands of miles from home. I learned the importance of a reliable vehicle the hard way. In two months away from home my Jeep needed a new clutch, brakes, and plenty of engine tinkering (by me and mechanics).

    I think you are wiser than I was back then about getting prepared before you leave! Kudos!

    The advantage to taking your trusty Mopar is that you know the history of the vehicle, it's nuances, and limitations. If you buy another used vehicle, you are somewhat in the dark about what work the vehicle may need.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default There is a knack to it

    Having never been to the desert, I read some accounts of people who have traveled through there, and some claimed it would be unbearable to drive without AC. I thought I would be able to manage without it, and you indicated that.
    Folks have been visiting the desert regions long before A/C -- while it is true that having a good one makes it much nicer -- I would never let such a problem prevent me from the adventure. I would second Darrell's advice about the rental car and using your own car, with the added caveat that purchasing a used card to undertake such an adventure could be far more challenging than you might want. I use a Chevy Blazer with 220,000 miles as my primary road trip vehicle -- so high mileage alone shouldn't be that big a worry.

    Desert dwellers, even those with high capacity A/C systems tend to explore the desert regions in the early morning and early evening -- and siesta a bit during the hottest parts of the day. One of the things you may not be aware of is that in the desert (Mojave) southwest, the hottest part of the day is around 5:00 pm. Other places around N. America, the hottest time frame is around noon or so. But in the desert regions, the full-on "bake" is later in the day.


  7. #7
    NY Joe Guest

    Default Good to hear

    Thanks for the insight, Boston Wrangler and Mark. I'm gonna make sure my car's in its best shape before I head out, but if the AC goes, then I'm not going to worry about it.

    I definitely didn't know that the southwestern desert is its hottest at 5pm - thank you, that will help with my planning.

    And good point about the value of knowing your car - if I got a used one, I would have little time to pick up on its ticks and probably would be a lot more nervous heading on a cross-country trip.

    Thanks again.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Dry heat!

    Since you are a fellow Northeasterner, and to get close to beating a dead horse: One thing you will immediately notice about the heat is that your sweat will wick away. Seriously. I was very suprised at the lack of humidity in Arizona and Utah. I hiked through Bryce and Zion in 110+ weather wearing steel toe boots and jeans, without a hitch (though I work in a place that is very hot in the Summer, so my tolerance is quite high). Having said that, make sure you bring plenty of water.

    The people who can't bear to be without AC, ever are probably the same people who can't bear to be more than two miles from a shopping center.

    It's a different world out there, and you'll be sure to enjoy it.

  9. #9
    NY Joe Guest

    Default thanks

    Thank you, TimboTa. I appreciate your thoughts, especially since I have never been in that type of climate. Looking forward to it, definitely.



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