Dear Car Talk:
Get ready for this! I’m going to take my 92-year-old dad on a six-week, gazillion mile trek from one side of the country to the other, then back again, with many stops along the way.
While that might sound exciting, the real thrill is that we plan to make this journey in my fabulously maintained 2005 Toyota Corolla with 331,000 miles on it. OK, OK, I can already hear your groans, so let me elaborate.
Before leaving, I’ll tuck the vehicle’s title in the glove box, in the unlikely event of a fatal, mechanical issue. If necessary, I’ll trade the title for a tow and call it even. Then, I’d head to the closest dealership and buy a new car and be back on our way.
I was thinking — just thinking, mind you — of checking out a few vehicles before the big adventure, so I’d know exactly what to buy, you know, on the outside chance I needed another vehicle somewhere along the way.
Oh, I should add that I love my dad! — Barry
Barry, your dad has written to us three times now begging us to tell you to get a new car. Look, I know you’re a cheapskate, Barry. I got to study your species at close range by observing my own brother for 60 years. So I understand that it’s important to you to get every last mile out of your car. But at 331,000, you’ve come darned close enough. Declare victory and put it on Craigslist.
By getting the new car now, you won’t have to give a second thought to breaking down in the middle of nowhere and having to synthesize dad’s Lipitor out of cactus leaves.
You’ll both be more comfortable. Newer cars — even small cars — are more comfortable, roomier and quieter than ever. They also ride and handle better. Your air conditioning will work well, and you might even have heated and cooled seats. Wait, you’d never spring for those, Barry. Scratch that.
Most importantly, you guys will have all of the modern-day safety equipment. There’s been a revolution in automotive safety since you bought your 2005 Corolla.
You’ll get more sophisticated airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, precollision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot warning and even adaptive cruise control, which maintains a set distance from the car in front of you. That’s going to come in handy when you’re driving 7,500 miles in six weeks. And you should absolutely get all of that stuff, because it’ll help keep you safe for the next 300,000 miles.
Finally, whatever you do, I was going to suggest you remember to stop frequently, not just for the car, but for your own sanity. But then I remembered you’ll have your 92-year-old dad in the car, and he’ll have to pee every half hour, so that won’t be a problem.
Have a wonderful trip, Barry. And give our best to Dad.
Got a question about cars? Write to Car Talk write to Ray in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.