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  1. Default Do you think My car will survive a 2400 mile trip?

    I drive a 1996 Ford Thunderbird with 117,000 miles. No problems to note, my left front tire spring or shock kinda makes a squeaky noise, It has only started making that noise since it Has been cold. I plan on taking a trip to North Carolina from Minnesota the day after Christmas straight through, making it an 18 hour trip, 1200 miles there and 1200 miles back. I have never done this sort of thing before and I am going with a buddy of mine. He's leaving for basic in January and this is kind of a farewell adventure for us. He is adamant that my car will be fine since he's taken longer trips in cars that actually have problems. I took my Car to Valvoline to have it looked at and the mechanic there said that everything looks rather new and up to date in the car and the only thing is my emergency brake is kinda rusty, but I shouldn't be worried because I will most likely never even use it. He even threw in that if it was Him taking the trip that he would have no issues taking the car whatsoever. So basically I'm here to get advice, to get some courage for the trip and affirmation as well as warnings if people have them. Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    Doesn't matter how good a car you have, driving 1200 miles straight through is suicidal, even with 2 drivers. This is a 2 day trip each way. You can find cheap hotel rooms in the $50 range.

    You also have to plan for possible weather delays, even 2 days may not be enough.

    Are you both at least 18 years old?

  3. Default

    Yep, I am 18 and My friend is 19. Why do you say that it would be suicidal?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default It's simply not safe.

    As mentioned above, it's a minimum 2 day trip and would be impossible to complete in 18 hours in the real world away from computerised mapping programs. It is a well known fact that driving while fatigued can be fatal and that's not always for the people responsible but for the unfortunate people they share the road with. You can not average 67mph for 18 hours straight, highway patrol would have trouble doing that with the lights on ! You need rest, food, and bathroom breaks and to fill with gas, stretch the limbs and clear the mind and it all takes time, that's before possible construction and congestion delays and the risk of bad weather. Having 2 of you in the car makes little difference, you would both need to be awake right the way through to make sure the other is not nodding off or suffering from Highway hypnosis, a recognised symptom of driving for long periods where you see nothing thats going on around you other than a few feet straight ahead of the car. Sure, it's possible you could get away with not stopping overnight, but only in the same way a drunk might get away with driving home a few times, but both are totally irresponsible acts and endanger other people as well as yourself. No matter what your mate might tell you it's your car and your responsibility so plan on at least 1 overnight stop and be prepared to pull off the road early and add time if the weather gets real bad.

    If you have had your car properly checked out and you keep an eye on fluid levels you shpould be OK but you can never be sure, for peace of mind you could join a motoring organisation such as the AAA. Make sure your tyres are in good shape and at the right pressures, including your spare tyre and that you have the tools to change wheels in the event of a blow out. Keep some spare fluids in the trunk, oil, screenwash and water [with anti-freeze] and perhaps a couple of spare bulbs. Windsreen wipers are often overlooked but can be a real headache if they are not performing well on a wet dirty Interstate so make sure they are in good shape.

    Have a safe trip !

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    As has been mentioned, worrying about the state of your car is secondary to the fact that an overnight stop is absolutely mandatory for a trip of this distance. Real world conditions, you're looking at needing to be on the road for nearly 24 straight hours in a best case situation. And traveling the day after christmas means "best case" is extremely unlikely. It's likely you'll hit at least a little bit of winter weather over this large of distance, and you'll also have some increased traffic from people traveling over the holidays. We understand that you are 18/19 and can't imagine something bad happening, but trying to do this sort of this can and does lead to many, many injuries and deaths on the roads.

    As far as your car, the age and miles don't disqualify it from taking a long trip at all, but a good inspection from a good mechanic at a good garage is a must. If all you've done at this point is have it looked at by a "mechanic" from a quickie oil change place, then you haven't done enough imho. Those places are fine for basic work like oil changes, but they generally don't hire people with enough skill to diagnose, much less, fix any significant problems. If your car is making noises that are new, it is usually the sign of a problem that does need to be fixed, and it is much better to discover that now, than when you are hundreds of miles from home.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    I'm going to concur with Michael, Dave, and GLC. Driving 18-24 hours only stopping for gas and food is crazy, plain crazy. I say that with EXPERIENCE doing just that. I would never in a million years do it again....we were young (and stupid) back then. Stop halfway, get a cheap motel room, and get some sleep. Start again the next morning. Commercial truck drivers are only allowed to drive 10 hours - about 600 miles - and then they have to change drivers. But they have one thing going for them that the average joe does not: sleeper berths in the tractor/cab. Trying to sleep sitting up, or even scrunched in the backseat of the car while your partner is driving, is NOT going to give you the rest you need. Remember, I speak from experience.

    As far as your vehicle is concerned: I currently drive older vehicles. We took a 99 on a long trip in summer '12. It was in EXCELLENT condition, and we had it looked over before we left. However, even a thorough "trip check" by a mechanic may not reveal problems that will creep up while on vacation -- we had an alternator that had to be changed mid-trip. Get your car serviced before you leave, make sure that squeak or knock is fixed, and get a AAA membership. (It's good assurance, AND you can get free maps for your trip. And yes, you need real maps -- do not rely on GPS or any electronic mapping completely.)


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ft. Collins, CO.


    If you look up the US Navy Safety sites and read awhile you'll find that your buddy won't be ALLOWED to make trips like this once he's in the Service (any service). Too many soldiers/sailors/Marines (Read- Young people just like yourself) have been killed by doing things like this so commands now have programs where their people have to file travel plans and explain to senior leadership why their plan makes sense and how risk will be mitigated. Or they aren't allowed to go. Don't want to risk damaging or killing govt. property.....

    Driving long distance is tiring. But you won't necessarily FEEL tired - you'll just be operating on far less brain power than is safe.

    You'll probably do it anyway. And you'll probably get away with it. This time. Maybe.

    117k miles is still a young car (from my point of view) unless it's been neglected or abused (I have relatives who can kill a car in a month - I hope you're not like them)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Well said.

    Quote Originally Posted by noFanofCB View Post
    Driving long distance is tiring. But you won't necessarily FEEL tired - you'll just be operating on far less brain power than is safe.
    Couldn't have put it better! It is a reality, and the cause of thousands of (unnecessary) deaths each year. Unfortunately a huge percentage of them being under 25 years of age.


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