OT, car prep for long trip

I have an '07 Toyota Matrix with 85K mi. It’s been on several road trips. I am planning a hiking trip to Big Bend in a couple of weeks. 13 1/2 hr trip. I have road service thru my cell phone, but given where I’m going, won’t rely on it.

I just had the oil changed, the tires rotated; they were replace around Labor Day.

I keep the following in the car:

55 pc Craftsman socket set with basic tools

Battery charger, freshly charged

12V tire inflator

1 can green slime

factory donut

Anything else I should have besides plenty of gas? I really don’t have concerns about the car, just being prudent.



At that mileage I’d give your serpentine belt (and any others if you have them) a close inspection, and even consider replacing them preemptively. If you’re handy it’s something you can do yourself, and a new belt will cost about $20.

Do you have a battery boost-pack?

thanks Nate,
I was thinking about belts. In my old '90 Mazda B2200 p/u, I always carried spare belts.

Iffin’ yer kin fit it…

– Last Updated: Dec-08-09 9:03 AM EST –

a full size spare tire instead o' de donut. A window punch/breaker, spare lightbulbs, couple gallons water/antifreeze mix an' of course - duct tape.


Itsabout . . .
. . . time for belts. Replace ‘em and use the old ones for spares. Cars are very reliable these days. Nothin’ special about Big Bend except it is very remote and gas stations can be far apart. Only one gas station at Panther Junction.

Don’t forget the timing belt
If you have one, and it hasn’t been replaced yet. If it breaks while your on the road, it will ruin your day, and possibly your engine.

And a good assortment of zip ties.

triple A subscription

may sound absurd but . . . .
. . . do check to see that you have all the tire-changing parts – jack and handle and lug wrench. Those things have been known mysteriously to go AWOL. Big Bend is fantastic. Check out the oases there: Sam Nail Ranch and I forget the name of the other. Great for birds. And if there’s water in the Rio Grande, maybe you could do a float trip. When I was there in the late 1990s (birding trip) we were hiking from the basin or whatever it’s called up to the rim and we met a Mexican black bear on the trail. We were told the bears had been out of the area for the previous 50 years; they were just then beginning to filter back in. It was really a thrill to see that bear, who was a pretty peaceable guy, digging for roots or grubs beside the trail. I know, I know, it’s possible they’ve overrun the campground now – but that was then! The only downside to our trip was experiencing the smoggy cloud of pollution from a coal-fired power plant in Mexico – happens when the wind blows a particular way – and it’s upsetting in such a beautiful place.

Have a wonderful, wonderful time. I envy you.


If you’ve been following scheduled maint

– Last Updated: Dec-08-09 10:21 AM EST –

Only thing you need to do for that short a trip is have toll money. This isn't a 1960's USA made vehicle. It's designed to go 200k w/o any problems. The reality is a 500 to 700 mile trip may be long to you but not for your car.

Agree with FE
on the full size spare. If you get a flat, which is probably the worst that will happen with that vehicle given it’s low mileage, a full size spare will let you travel at highway speeds instead of putting along hoping it will last.

A spare key hidden under the vehicle in case you lock yours inside, or lose it, would be helpful. If the key has a chip in it so a copy can’t start the car, maybe hide a copy under the car, but keep the good (and expensive) spare original one hidden in the vehicle somewhere. A thief doesn’t spend too much time looking under and behind things when he/she breaks in, they want easy stuff.

have a good hike


Thanks all!
The Matrix doesn’t have a timing belt, has a “long lasting timing belt which doesn’t need to be replaced” according to manuf. I have a Rescue/window breaking “thingy”, of course duct tape. I thought about a real spare, but I will be camping out of the car, instead of my tent (it’s as big as my tent) so I really won’t have room, and they stink up the car…Had to travel with one that was damaged on a trip once but that my tire shop replaced after looking at it.

I really appreciate the info, as it’s nice to have other’s input.


You might
consider a length of uncoated steel wire. I add it to my tool box just in case I need to hold up the exhaust system if a hanger lets loose. Shouldn’t be a problem with a car only a couple years old but you never know. I also always take a good size flashlight and leave it in the car. Hard to change a tire if you can’t see what you’re doing. You mentioned a socket set, I presume you also have packed plyers screw drivers, hacksaw, rope etc. etc.

Have a good trip.


pretty well prepared.
as previously suggested a spare key is a good idea. Some newer vehicles have a chip in the key and they will only start with a dealer-issued key. Other than a spare key somewhere outside the vehicle where you can get it, I would just make sure you have a credit card and $200 cash in $20’s. If you get in a bind a tow driver might not take a card or check. It’s nice to have cash on hand for emergencies/bribes.

I Second That
I was with a coworker who flatted once. I can’t remember if he had no lug wrench or just a crappy one that wouldn’t do the job but we were stranded for some time.

Check your other fluid maintenance recor
Have you ever had the differential fluid changed? Transmission fluid? Intervals differ for different vehicles and use type, so check your owner’s manual vs. what you’ve had done. Cooling system?

If you need to change spark plugs, what is the recommended mileage for that? Some of them are at 90K.

You are camping, so you’ll have emergency sleeping gear. Keep extra water handy, plus spare batteries for everything that uses them.

The cell phone is probably still useless in Big Bend. It was the last time I went there.

BB nights this time of year can go as low as single-digits, though it’s usually higher than that. Bring a warm sleeping bag plus an extra fleece blanket. You may end up sleeping with a balaclava on.

And have a great trip!

Thanks again all for the great advice
got the spare key, water, and got the balaclava packed as well :wink:

I think planning and packing for this trip is helping me avoid cabin fever. The fall foliage is gone, everything is cold and grey, it gets dark way too early…BUT, I am reading a great book…which is where I’m headed now. Have a good evening all.


A kayak
You need to have a kayak on top of that car.

I’m surprised I have to tell you that.

I don’t know if there is chance of snow

– Last Updated: Dec-08-09 11:34 PM EST –

...... (or ice) at this place you are going , and I think your car is a front wheel drive .

All my vehicals have always been rear wheel drive , but I keep a set of chains , actually they are more like springs anymore instead of chain (chain kit) for the tires if I suspect I'll need to keep movin in a bad snow and ice .

They will keep you moving through 2' deep snow , almost nothing stops them .

read this Leigh -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_chains

If your auto is FWD , and you are thinking about getting a chain kit to keep in car ... check to make sure it's ok to use on your vehical first (I'm pretty certain it is) . Can be bought in a kit at most auto type stores to fit your tire size , and can be put on while you are on the road too .

I put them on all 4 tires w/o problem , if you need them you aren't going to drive very fast anyway .

Other cold weather auto items :

don't go alone if possible

a wool army blanket

De-ice for auto door key cylinder (or one of those batt. heat devices for same)


Jumper cables

cb radio ??

Propane or MAPP gas cylinder w/flame head attachment (kit) (hardware store item - $20.-40.)... I like the eletronic trigger ignition type !! ... I suggest you get one of these and take it with you ... it's great for instant fast fire w/electronic trigger ignition ... has many uses , very light and real handy !!

huricain lighter

large flash lite and ex. batt,'s

tire plug kit - cheap insurance !!

2-3 extra unopened qts. of engine oil

windshield washer fluid

brake fluid

50/50 mix antifreeze and water in a gallon jug

an inexpensive 2 ton hydraulic floor jack

spare tire , and cross bar lug wrench , tools

spare auto keys


a good service check-up before heading out , to incld. all belts and hoses , fluids and gear cases , wipers

spare auto fuses (kit)

a tune up

a heavy sharp knife

The right
tire changing stuff… I once did a brake job on wifes car to find out the lug wrench that came with the car would not get into the holes on the tire (recessed lugs.) I had to use a socket from my tool box to get the wheels off. Now Janie’s car has a honking tee wrench that will get into the holes…

you will stay on top of all the …
… weather stuff won’t ya !!

I was just looking at the Big Bend , TX area forcast from NWS … I didn’t look to see what’s causing this but there is a Hazardous Weather statement in place at present for that area … does this happen often there ??

Looked like mountainous regions can expect gust over 100 mph in the following 24 hrs. … being unfamiliar with the place you say you are going … just some concern , that’s all … but I’m sure you’re up on all the Wx stuff ok .