Home » What’s The Longest You Can Actually Drive In One Sitting?

What’s The Longest You Can Actually Drive In One Sitting?

Autopian Asks Without Stopping
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There’s still much debate about range on both electric and combustion cars. We’re all familiar with cars that have microscopic fuel tanks and the concept of EV range anxiety, and since both share similar concepts, let’s put it to the people. How long can you specifically drive in one sitting without stopping and taking a break?

This means no fill-ups, no stand-up leg-stretches, no bathroom breaks, no pulling over for food, just driving. Pretty simple, right? I’ll go first. You might think that doing this whole car thing for a living might imbue me with superhuman stint abilities, but my answer’s likely more modest than you’d expect.

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If I really have somewhere to be and I’m in a car with comfortable seats and a big enough fuel tank, I can do 425 miles in one shot. That’s about six hours in a car, and that’s more or less my limit. I’ve done it multiple times, to the point where it’s stable, repeatable, and an answer I feel confident in. Now, is it the most comfortable thing in the world? No, but by managing hydration and timing meals, it’s totally feasible.

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However, not everyone can one-shot 425 miles. Some people are good for longer, truly testing the limits of fuel capacities. Some people need more frequent breaks, and that’s also totally okay. I don’t want to say that human backs and knees are wear items, but discomfort is a real thing that’s nothing to be ashamed of. So, let’s turn it over to you — how long can you drive for in one sitting?

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Derek van Veen
Derek van Veen
1 month ago

When I was a lot younger (like nearly 30 years ago), I did Portland to San Dimas (east of LA) in one night. Only stops, other than a visit with my in-laws near Ashland, Oregon and a stop in the San Joaquin due to a locust swarm that made driving dangerous, were for gas (and the requisite associated pee break).

Since then, the longest drive in a single day I did was with my daughter from Seattle to Billings (13 hours – en-route to Pittsburgh where she’s in college) last summer, but we split the drive time and only stopped for lunch, dinner, and gas.

As I drift into my mid-50s, I find the biggest limiter to long drives is needing to pee.

StevenR
StevenR
1 month ago

It really depends on how comfortable I can get the drivers seat in whatever car I’m in. In my own car, I can go the full tank and only stop because the car needs gas, which is about 400 miles.

I once had a 2018 Malibu for a rental car and I could not get the seat comfortable no matter what I tried. I had to stop every hour or so in that car because it was wrecking my back.

M K
M K
1 month ago
Reply to  StevenR

Totally agree. Driving 100 miles in my G35 feels like an entire exhausting day of driving.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
1 month ago

I don’t like testing the absolute limits of any of the fluid reservoirs involved, so about five hours before stopping for something.

EXL500
EXL500
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

5 hours! See my post about 90 minutes above…

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago

It’s not distance, but time.

I go about 4 hours of flat boring road before I’m all squidgy and need to get out of the car and move. Even if it’s just to stand up and take a few steps. Obviously if it’s more engaging of a drive (like your average whiteknuckle winter storm) then I can go longer, but would need a moment longer to re-establish myself.

Sklooner
Sklooner
1 month ago

I used to have a diesel Jetta with a 1200 km range- Edmonton to Vancouver non stop a bunch of times, till my bladder and I got older, I did that trip return once too, refueled and turned around 24 hours on the road

ExParrot
ExParrot
1 month ago
Reply to  Sklooner

Berlin to Warsaw in one tank

M K
M K
1 month ago
Reply to  ExParrot

That would be more impressive if it was in a Wartburg prior to 1989!

Drew
Drew
1 month ago

I take at least one 6-8 hour drive (each way) each year (depends on whether it’s to my sister’s place or my parents’ place), and I have a bad habit of driving that in one go or close to it. If I gas up beforehand, I can make it to either without stopping, but I do sometimes get gas on the way into my parents’ place so that I don’t end up needing the expensive gas nearest them if I do too much driving locally. It’s not good for me, and I spend the whole time there feeling stiff and uncomfortable. About the time I’m feeling better, I’m driving back and doing it again. But I keep doing it because I don’t see a need to stop, and don’t really want to stop for no reason (my own well-being doesn’t register as a reason to me).

I’m looking at an EV, and one of the benefits I see is that I’ll be forced to stop and recharge, so I should drive healthier and feel better after longer trips.

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
1 month ago
Reply to  Drew

My dad and step mom really need to switch to an EV. They need to stop every 2-3 hours to walk and prevent blood clots. The last thing they need is to get into a groove and go 5+ hours non-stop.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

I truly cannot say as I have never stopped for another reason but fuel. I then do everything. None of my cars ever had that large a fuel range. The more economical ones had small tanks.
I guess we’ll never know.
Now not counting fuel stops 27 hours. From West Palm Beach to Derry PA. It was not intended nor will I ever do it again.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mr Sarcastic
Cam.man67
Cam.man67
1 month ago

Excepting fuel stops, 23 hours is my current max. That’s obviously an outlier, but 12-13 hrs is pretty attainable when I’m hauling cows.

Brett Dennis
Brett Dennis
1 month ago

In high school, my dad wanted to wait for me to finish the school day before driving up to our vacation home 10 hours away. He had a 2000 F 250 with a replaced 60 gallon diesel tank. It was the two of us and our golden retriever. Our first stop was after 7hours and the golden retriever tried to pee but was so locked up he couldn’t. Now these days, with my kids, 4 hours requires a stop. If I am without kids, I can do 5 hours before a stop, and 10 hours in a day.

IanGTCS
IanGTCS
1 month ago

About 4 hours is what I’ll do without a pee break. I could go, and have in the past gone longer but why? The few minutes to wizz makes the rest of the drive more comfortable.

Also the cottage is a 4 hour drive and I rarely travel further than that so haven’t tested my limit in a long time.

NewBalanceExtraWide
NewBalanceExtraWide
1 month ago

I am facing this for a little vacation this summer, where I decided it sounded like a fine idea to leave my place in Minnesota at 1AM and figure a 12 hour drive, with a couple of stops for gas and coffee and maybe a breakfast burrito to end up in Oklahoma in the afternoon. I’m not young. This is a stupid plan. But I’m going to do this for science.

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
1 month ago

My work requires a decent amount of rural driving. With my base model Mazda 3, after 3 hours my legs start to go numb (tall person problems) then I need to stop every hour after that.

Now with the CTS I haven’t actually found the limit of comfort, I only stop for food/toilets/gas.

Elhigh
Elhigh
1 month ago

My Gen2 Prius officially holds 11.9 gallons and, if I’m driving conservatively will nail 50 miles per gallon. I’ll be the slowest thing on the road, but cruising around 60mph. So that would 595 miles or 9.92 hours – 595 minutes.

Paradoxically, my older, cruder Civic Hybrid (first gen) had hilariously long highway legs and, when driven on fastish back roads the mileage meter just kept going up as the speed of the road dovetailed with the slope of the hills and the torque output of the engine – it just sang and was a delight to drive over 100 miles of Virginia Blue Ridge mountains. With the same size fuel tank as the non-hybrid model and cheerfully whistling up 62+mpg on swoopy backroads that rewarded 50-60mph, the car hit over 720 miles before the red light came on. I think I could have pushed it past 750. I filled up and drove it all the way from my home in Knoxville TN to my parents’ in NoVA, over 600 miles, then puttered around NoVA for a couple of days, and then gassed up to continue my driving trip. That car had its issues, the hybrid battery pack being a particular Achilles’ heel, but it was just a joy for long trips. It could go as long as I could, no problem.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago

There’s this thing that happens to people that hold their urine for too long, consistently over years. You end up weakening the muscles that are used to control your bladder and urine flow, and in a bit of a cruel poetic twist, can end up incontinent as a result. It happens to nurses a lot; I’d bet good money that goes for truckers, too

Unless I specifically dehydrate myself, I’ve got about 90 minutes in me. A time or two I managed to get from western North Carolina to Raleigh in one swoop, driving in the middle of the night, wringing every ounce of gas from the Sentra’s tank but arriving in excruciating pain. That was four hours flat. I did that drive dozens of times, always in pain because I didn’t want to delay. (I might have a personal best of 6 or 7 but I can’t remember for sure – it would have been from 2ish to 8ish in the morning if so.)

Gratefully, something someday hit me: what the hell are you doing? Stop! And I did. And if that means a rest area stop 87 short miles after the last one, so be it.

Free bonus story: When I worked door to door, there was absolutely no provision for how you were supposed to relieve yourself. If we were lucky there might be woods, or construction from portapotties. There were some days though, that I felt some of the most intense pain I’ve ever felt holding back. I had pain in places I didn’t know I could feel pain. What a horrible job.

Drew
Drew
1 month ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Oh, no. Well, I’m going to have to change my habits at work and when driving. Thank you for the horrifying information!

Alexk98
Alexk98
1 month ago

I could probably do around 5 or 6 if needed, but the bulk of the “longer” drives I do are in the 4.5 range, and I typically stop around halfway, since I find a 15 minute pit stop is really helpful. This is especially helped by 12.7 gallon tank in my CX-30 only netting me around 330 miles until I’m in 1/8th of a tank range, and I refuse to ever let my low fuel light come on.

DysLexus
DysLexus
1 month ago

I don’t know how many over-the-road truck drivers we get following Autopian, but my uncle could go about 500 miles (8 hours) in his rig in a sitting. That is his job of course. They work up to this.

That may not be what you really asking for us normies though. I’m about 300 miles before I go stir-crazy.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  DysLexus

Truckers also have the Bathroom Buddy. An actual plastic jug with a lid designed specifically for peeing while driving.

DysLexus
DysLexus
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Yep. But still sitting at attention for 8 hours is a tedious thing even for an empty bladdered driving.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 month ago

3 hours is ideal. 4 is still reasonable. 5 sucks but can be done if necessary. 6 is my modern limit. 7 is the longest I’ve ever gone.

With kids 2.5 is ideal, 3.5 is the max (unless they’re asleep).

12 hours is the limit for a day, as planned anyway. I’ve been stuck with 15 hours in one day once, and by the end I was ready to tear my hair out.

Space
Space
1 month ago

When everyone else is asleep the rule becomes “as far as humanely possible” the second you stop everyone is guaranteed to wake up it seems.

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago

500 miles (6-7 hours) or so, then a 5-10 min stop tops and I’m good for another 500.

My truck has a 48 gallon tank, so if I’m not towing, I could theoretically go close to 700 miles nonstop.

Driving has never really stressed me or bored me, I find it relaxing, so as long as I’m not drinking a ton of liquids I can go quite a ways.

Last edited 1 month ago by V10omous
Uberscrub
Uberscrub
1 month ago

In college I would drive to visit my girlfriend, 450 miles away. Sometimes i didn’t stop for stop signs, car never came to complete stop.
nowadays I make similar guys trip for snowboarding. we stop more often.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 month ago
Reply to  Uberscrub

I used to do a similar trip from PA to NH about every third weekend during the school year. It was always balls to the wall, no stops, 6 hours.

I certainly do not have that sort of driving in me anymore.

Pisco Sour
Pisco Sour
1 month ago

I feel like my limit is defined more by time than distance. My car gets about that same 425-450 miles per tank on the highway, but I’ve sat through longer times because of traffic.

It once took us 8 hours to get back from Vegas to Southern California because of traffic, and that was without stopping for gas – that’s the longest one I can think of.

Stopping only for gas and to pee (not for meals), I think my longest is about 18-20 hours.

Ironically, I think that I could go longer if I was consistently in motion and the gas tank wasn’t a limiting factor – being in traffic just has a way of sapping energy.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
1 month ago

When I was single, childless and stopping only for gas, 2-3 hours was nothing, 5-6 hours was normal and 9-10 hours was my limit.

The kiddo is almost 9 and can do 3 hours no problem but I’m maxed at 7-8 hours now. Once I do roughly a whole tank of gas, I’m gassed myself

Flyingstitch
Flyingstitch
1 month ago

I used to do 4-5 pretty regularly ferrying offspring to and from college. But the aging process doesn’t take breaks, and by the time #3 was finishing up, those runs would seriously wipe me out. I may have done longer back in the day, but I don’t remember, and if I did, it probably wasn’t safe. It’s definitely a bad idea today.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 month ago

Well, in the past two days, I’ve done 300 or more in one sitting more than once. And averaging 55-60 MPH (best I could do with that trailer), that’s five hours. Don’t think I would want to do more, certainly not sitting in a 35-year-old bench seat.

I have done 17 hours only stopping for gas/bathroom in one shot before. I don’t recommend it.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 month ago

The most I’ve ever done is 5 hours, but for me it’s normal to stop every hour or two. I go through a lot of food and drink, with predictable results.

Mike B
Mike B
1 month ago

I’ve done 6 hours without stopping, but as I’m getting older that’s less likely.

In a day, I’ve driven 12 hours, from RI to NC, and that was about the limits to my attention span. I was really cranky the last hour.

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