Seattle to Little Rock in old car
I am planning to drive accross my 1995 Nissan Altima which has done 115k (but has new tires, new radiator, new CV joint job; all these in the last 1 year). I am a bit nervous about driving a car that has done 115k for such a long distance. Any tips? What should I be looking for when I go to the mechanic to get it tuned up prior to the drive? Any other tips? The car has been reasonably well maintained so far with regular oil changes etc.
Easiest way is to take the car to a trusted mechanic, tell him (or her) you are going on the road with the vehicle, and have him do a general inspection.
If the car seems to be sound for the most part (no major problems apparent), then the USUAL breakdown on the road is likely to be something stupid -- a hose, a belt, a water pump, etc. Stupid, but nonetheless invariably expensive when a mechanic in Podunk has you by los cojones.
Take a look at the following:
1. Tires (also make sure your spare has adequate air in it!)
4. Fresh oil and filter
7. Charging system and battery
8. Cooling system including a radiator check (under pressure).
9. Do the simple stuff -- check the lights, horn, etc.
10. Listen for strange noises (whirring, clicking, shrieking, rumbling, etc.)
11. Check underneath and in the engine compartment for leaks.
Finally, once you've done all of this, take off and go. If it breaks, it breaks, and it won't be the end of the world (usually). You can't possibly check every single thing that can go wrong! Also, think about what you might need on the road -- and put these things in your vehicle -- water, air pump, fix-a-flat, flashlight with fresh batteries, rags, hand cleaner, duct tape, coat hangar, jack, lug wrench, etc.
Fellow posters, if I've missed anything important, feel free to add your thoughts! Bob
Also don't let that gas gauge get too low. Some parts of the desert area are a long stretch between gas stations.
Note of encouragement: I took my old 1986 Ford pickup out to Newfoundland & back, and to Texas and back. It CAN be done ;-)
As long as your car passes a mechanic's inspection and has been maintained, you probably won't have any more problems than someone in a car with less miles. Heck, on roadtrips I have run into people who were driving their old Hudson from New York to California, who were driving their classic 1950's Chevy (towing a color-matched teardrop trailer) from Canada to Arizona, a caravan of VW Busses from the 60's going from Montana to the Oregon Coast, and more. If these older cars can make it, surely your car with proper maintenance can do it.
Of course, things can happen to any car, even a brand-new one. I would have a AAA-Plus membership in order to get good towing coverage and other assistance in case something happens. Check your oil regularly, too. Have fun!
I have a 1994 Cavalier which has more than 250 000 km done and never had any major problems on the road (I know, I'm lucky!:-). Just make sure you can have roadside assistance (CAA or other) and have a charged cell phone and cb if possible(in many places in the desert cell phones don't work). Bring an emergency kit with you for minor repairs and lots of water (for you and your car). I'm sure if your car is in good shape and you make check-ups regularly you won't encounter any major problems, but of course some things are unpredictable and accidents happen sometimes. Take it easy, expecially in the mountains and drive carefully!
Have a nice trip!
I wouldn't worry too much. I drove my car with 100K+ miles on it on a long roadtrip last year with no problems.
Definitely have the mechanic give it a once-over first.
Gas stations definitely are not as common out west as you are used to! I wouldn't let the gas tank get half-empty. You're going to want to get out and stretch every few hours anyway, may as well do it at a gas station.