Twenty things we learned the hard way on Route 66

Not so long ago, we sent six intrepid travelers on a journey to deliver two 1970s sports cars from the tumbleweeds of the southwest to the farmlands of the Midwest by way of one of America’s most iconic roads — Route 66. The breakdown-plagued adventure provided plenty of teaching moments along the way; here are 20 of the most memorable:

(Click here for the video from our “Trip of Fools.”)

  1. No matter how much you pay for a pre-purchase inspection, always oversee the trip preparation yourself. Trust us on this one.
  2. If you buy cheap jumper cables on your next trip to the store, you’ll likely need to make another trip to buy better jumper cables.
  3. Flashlights are great; a “headlamp” with a headband is even better.
  4. Don’t even bother trying to fix the cigarette lighter if you have a bad fuel leak.
  5. If you have a bad fuel leak, don’t fill the tank all the way, and consider using some type of object (an empty bottle of additive worked for us) to prop open the back hatch so you and your passenger don’t suffocate.
  6. Lucas Oil Additive is a great product. Use it. 
  7. Making sure all the oil pan bolts are in place really, really reduces oil leaks.
  8. Hard, dry tires with minimal tread don’t mix with high speed.
  9. A couple of cans of Fix-A-Flat are handy for inflating a spare tire after you throw a tread and discover the inflation bottle is empty.
  10. A little bit of gasket sealer is good; a lot of gasket sealer is better.
  11. A sharp knife is handy to cut a belt after the air conditioner compressor seizes.
  12. You will definitely feel better if you have a fire extinguisher in each car.
  13. The car that’s going to break next is the one without the tools in it.
  14. If you shift into neutral fast enough you can sometimes coast a mile after the engine dies.
  15. Chase cars come in really handy, particularly if they’re not 5 or 10 miles ahead of you at a crucial moment.
  16. Don’t expect Sushi at Big Vern’s Steakhouse in Shamrock, Texas.
  17. To check for bed bugs, inspect the edges where the mattress is stitched.
  18. If a hotel review tells you you’re better off sleeping in your car, you should just sleep in your car.
  19. Sometimes you can find the best service in the most unlikely places, as we discovered more than once.
  20. If you’re not from the Southwest, ask for the chili on the side – at breakfast.


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