Should I sell my car or keep it in stasis for ten months?
November 3, 2010 8:17 PM   Subscribe

Should I keep my car with me and pay insurance for nearly a year of non-use, lease it, or sell it and hope to buy another one afterward?

I'm entering a program where I will be housed, fed, transported, etc for ten months. I love my car dearly but will have to do something with it during that time. My income will be very low. Can you walk me through the pros and cons and likelihoods of success for my options?

1. Drive it to the location of my ten-month stint, park it in the lot, enjoy the occasional use of it, and start to pay insurance on it? Vehicles will be available for routine tasks, so I will not really need the car.

2. Put the word out or post an ad to craigslist offering some trustworthy person the use of my car, for a fee, for the ten months. Insurance presumably still paid by me. Is that even allowed?

3. Sell it. I would get little money (a couple thousand) because of some cosmetic problems. However, this car will probably last at least another 100,000 miles. Keeping it would be the best way to get value from it. Also, it's an amazing vehicle and I don't think I would be as happy with another one that I could get for my budget.

Keeping it in a warm garage where some kind person will periodically start it or drive it around a little, and not paying insurance on it, would be ideal. Is there such a thing?

I need to decide quickly in order to set up travel arrangements to the location of my program.
posted by ramenopres to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Insurance here (in San Jose, Ca) is about 200 a year and the cost of registration is around $50. Thats $250 a year to keep the car. Selling the car is free but BUYING a car costs cash. State tax is about 10 percent plus smog is around $250 (for a $2000 car). So if you would like to keep your car, it is a good idea, if you would like to sell your car you can do so with my blessing.
posted by Felex at 8:35 PM on November 3, 2010

If you basically like the car and will need it after the stint, I'd avoid selling it. Fooling around with car trading almost always seems to cost me $1-2K minimum because of the spread between what they cost at retail and what they're worth at wholesale (and if you private-sale it, most buyers nowadays look up the wholesale and lowball you a lot).

I would talk to your insurance agent. There is a miles-driven component to your insurance cost, and if you are currently rated for a daily commute, they might be able to down-rate you to occasional/pleasure use of the car and that could help a bit, at least. You may find that you have to park the car somewhere other than where you are housed if it happens to be in a high-crime area. For example, you're going to do the program in a downtown area of a big city, but you currently live in an relatively affluent suburb. You might pay more just for parking the car in the city, so if you could find a relative or a TRUSTED friend to park it for you in the 'burbs, that might help. Again, the insurance agent should have the answers for minimizing your premium, which might include raising the deductible as high as you can possibly stand, among other things.

Do NOT get involved in some deal where you rent the car out to someone you don't really know. Probably would void your coverage and odds are really high the car would get damaged.
posted by randomkeystrike at 8:43 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why can't you keep the car and cancel the insurance for a year?
posted by juliapangolin at 10:04 PM on November 3, 2010

Keep the car. Your insurance agent can probably lower your rates significantly for this scenario. Insurance on a car that's barely being driven and parked in a lot shouldn't cost that much. You can always try other insurance companies if needed.

If you do this, be sure to start the car up and drive it around occasionally, or the battery will die and it won't start when you need it.

Why can't you keep the car and cancel the insurance for a year?
Then you can't drive it at all if you realize you need your car for some errand or run into a family emergency and need to drive away for a bit or you get an oil change or your new best friend has an emergency and needs to borrow your car or a gazillion of other reasons why you might need to drive your car on occasion. Plus then you're not covered if someone steals your car or smashes it to bits or a tree falls on it or anything else that can happen to a reasonably valuable object that you leave sitting unattended outside.
posted by zachlipton at 10:14 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Call your insurance company and ask them. I stopped driving mine and they sent me a refund for the balance of time remaining on the year I had already paid. It was made clear that I couldn't take it out to drive until I started paying again. I think it still had some kind of coverage in case it was squashed by a tree, but it was very cheap.

I'd recommend putting it in proper storage, on blocks, disconnecting the battery, etc. I was able to re-start mine (after 3 years) with a bit of ether in the carburetor. When the zombie-pocalypse happens, look for me driving a red '93 Honda Civic CX hatchback.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:44 PM on November 3, 2010

Store it somewhere and reduce the coverage. If paying for storage is out of your range, at least get a car cover. Here's some basics on how to store a car for long periods of time - but talk to your mechanic for specifics for your car.
posted by Brent Parker at 10:49 PM on November 3, 2010

Is the lot at the new job private? Or even better, locked? Register it non-operational and cancel the insurance.
If not, talk to your insurance and drop it down to minimum required insurance and see if they'll drop the price at all for low mileage.
posted by gally99 at 11:47 PM on November 3, 2010

I have had to make this decision a few times. First time, I got rid of the car as it was really coming towards the end of its life anyway. Second time, I had a car that I liked and would be good for quite a while longer (well, I still have it five years later), and I wouldn't have got that much money selling it. I kept the car. The advantage of keeping it is that you don't have to go through the hassle of selling and then buying again - you might use it a few times while you are on this program, but then you will have the car immediately that the program finishes. It doesn't sound like the money you would get for it would allow you to buy a similar vehicle at the end of the program. You should be able to find minimum coverage insurance for that period - the money is really the only con for this choice, I think.
posted by AnnaRat at 12:50 AM on November 4, 2010

My insurance offers something called warehouse (I think) insurance on cars that are not driven. Covers theft, tree falling on it, etc. But no coverage for anything happening while it's being driven. It was super cheap - not even $100 per year if I remember right.
posted by thatguyjeff at 9:40 AM on November 4, 2010

Sell it, and definitely not option #2.
posted by bunny hugger at 1:16 PM on November 4, 2010

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