Before I hit the road...
I am planning to tour the western half of the United States this summer in my 1982 Honda Accord with 120,000 miles on it. I'm a 72 year old woman, and I'll have only my dog along for company. I love my dog, my car, and driving, so I'm looking forward to the 8 or 10 weeks on the road. The car is well maintained and is basically in excellent shape, but I want to avoid any possible car problems during the trip. What should I do before I depart?
RAY: Wow, Muriel. We admire your spirit of adventure! The first thing you should do is call Paramount Pictures to see if they'll buy your story. If a 72 year old woman alone on the prairie with a Honda Accord and a dog isn't the sit-com of the 90's, I don't know what is!
TOM: Actually, Muriel, here's our advice regarding your Accord. Before you set out on this great adventure, drive it to a rental car office and reserve some new, reliable wheels for this trip. You may think your Accord is in excellent condition, but with 120,000 miles on it, there are so many things that could break that you'd never be able to anticipate them all. We couldn't in good conscience recommend that you take a car with such high mileage so far from home for so long. The possibilities are frightening. You could get stranded at Wall Drug for a week!
RAY: If you really feel you must take the Accord (if this is the Call of the Wild), you should take it to a Honda dealer and ask him to thoroughly inspect the car top to bot?tom. Have him tune it up and check the brakes and tires. Have him replace the timing belt, the water pump, the fuel pump and the distributor. Have him install new belts and hoses, and fix any?thing else that looks marginal.
TOM: When you find out how much all of this is going to cost, you'll realize that renting a car is not only the wiser, but also the cheaper option. But make sure you take along plenty of chew toys for the dog. I hear those rent-a-car people don't take well to the explanation "what armrests?"