Dear Car Talk: On a recent organization excursion to Minnesota, I succumbed to a area Craigslist submitting for a 1988 Mercedes 560 SL convertible. Rust-cost-free and smooth-shifting, it was much more than your brother ever requested for in a car. I bought the motor vehicle, parked it in a friend’s barn and flew house to Oregon till I can return to make the highway journey.

I know the timing chain and slide rails had been recently changed, and the brakes were being serviced with new pads and rotors not 10,000 miles back. The battery is new, the tires are good and the transmission fluid and coolant have been flushed at an suitable interval.

I am not a mechanic. What preparations ought to I just take to be certain strife-totally free vacation to the West Coastline so I do not stop up as bison food stuff though passing by means of Yellowstone?

This is what I have on my checklist so far: screwdrivers and crescent wrenches, multi-instrument with assorted torques and other bits, flashlight, modest battery leap pack, mini air compressor, assorted fuses, rags, spare set of belts, two quarts of oil, a spare oil filter, a gallon of drinking water, AAA membership with 200-mile tow, and a cellphone with the Greyhound bus reservation line on pace dial.

What else should really I consider when having a highway trip with this 32-calendar year-old car? I will send you a postcard from where ever I break down.


Expensive READER: Perfectly, make certain you have your hairpiece glued on seriously well since the very first thing to break will be the hydraulic mechanism that puts the convertible major back again up. The trouble, Richard, is that there is seriously no way to totally put together for an journey like this. You have coated on your own for 15 or 20 items that can go completely wrong. But there are hundreds of items that can go erroneous. And it can be simply difficult to anticipate them all. And Murphy’s Law (which is called Mercedes Regulation in Germany, by the way) suggests that what does go improper will be one thing that calls for a portion that has not been in production considering that 1998.

So you have to make a alternative. Possibly you want the adventure of earning this journey, with all the thrills and probable tragedies and tales to inform that occur along with it. Or you definitely just want to get the car or truck residence, in which case you can spend a car or truck provider $1,200 to trailer the car or truck property for you and learn what’s wrong with it though remaining in “Hi hon, can you arrive decide on me up?” length.

If you truly want the journey, then accept that it truly is mainly unpredictable, and you could get caught for a thirty day period waiting for sections in Wyoming. If I were being you, I would plot out any Mercedes dealerships amongst Minnesota and Oregon on a map and approach a route that takes you ideal by each individual a single of them. Discovering another person who can operate on this vehicle and getting pieces could be your most significant difficulties if you have an strange trouble.

And then, approach to make the trip in the summer time, when you won’t freeze to death if you do get stranded. But consider some tumble and wintertime clothes with you, just in scenario. Take pleasure in, Richard.

Dear Vehicle Chat: I have a 2004 Nissan Xterra with a regular transmission. There is a fairly considerable leak that is dark. It appears to be like like oil, but my oil stage isn’t really dropping.

The leak is beneath the engine on the passenger side. Considering the fact that the oil stage isn’t really dropping, what could it be? My ability steering stage is wonderful. Many thanks.


Expensive READER: If it can be seriously dark, it could be a 2016 Preston Vineyards Petite Syrah. But additional probably, the leak is coming from your front differential.

Differentials let the left and right wheels to rotate at unique speeds, which they have to do when you might be turning, or you can drag your exterior wheel all the way as a result of the flip. You have two differentials on this Xterra because it has 4-wheel drive just one on the front axle and one particular in the rear. And guess where by the front differential sits? Beneath the motor, just to the passenger facet of the oil pan. Bingo!

Sadly, it is tough to check the oil stage in the differential, for the reason that it doesn’t have a dipstick. We verify it by removing the plug on the outdoors of the housing, sticking a finger in there (the first dipstick!) and observing if our finger will come out with oil on it. My guess is yours will not likely, Jeff. So you are going to help you save a minimal cash on soap, and you can put that toward your new differential.

Truly, you might be Alright. It is dependent on how very low the oil stage has gotten and how prolonged you’ve got been driving it this way. If you currently hear a howling seem when you drive — if you preserve hunting in the rearview mirror, questioning why the state police are following you — then the differential is shot, and you may have to exchange it. But if it truly is not making noise nevertheless, you can have your mechanic uncover the leak and repair it. It really is most possible leaking from the pinion seal, which is suitable upcoming to the oil pan. Even though it could be one particular of the axle seals, far too. Changing the seals is in fact a rather effortless occupation. It isn’t going to require removing the differential, and it’ll likely charge you in the neighborhood of $250.

On the other hand, if it starts off howling, you may need to have to come across your self a fantastic, employed differential, and you’ll be hunting at three to five instances that value. So end looking through and go get it taken care of now, Jeff.

Ray Magliozzi dispenses advice about autos in Car Talk each individual Saturday. E mail him by going to