Tips for Sharing a Car Short-Term
February 8, 2019 7:35 AM   Subscribe

My mom's car is in the shop for a few weeks, and she will need to share mine. The problem is that we don't live together (we're a couple miles apart) and our schedules have a lot of overlap, so we both want/need the car at the same time but never to go to the same places. Any tips for how to handle this in a way that maximizes convenience for both of us?

My mom works 8-4/M-F and I work 9-5/M-F (my dad doesn't work and only drives very rarely). For the past few days, I've been staying at my parents' so that my dad can drop my mom at work and then bring the car back home so that I can then drive it to work. My mom then takes a cab home ($10-12/trip). Obviously that is an expensive solution, but she is an art teacher and always has tons of stuff (student work, sketchbooks, art supplies, etc) with her, so the bus isn't really doable.

I am out doing stuff practically every night after work, though, and the morning bus service by my parents' isn't that reliable (learned this the hard way), so as long as I'm staying there, I feel like the bus isn't really doable for me, either. There is a shuttle to/from the Metro from my own apartment that would make coming in to work pretty easy, but like I said, I'm often going somewhere else directly after work and wouldn't be able to catch the evening shuttle home, either. Also, some places I go after work aren't Metro accessible. I guess I could leave the car at my parents', stay at my apartment, and just take a Lyft/cab/whatever home every night? My issue with that is that one cab ride would be like $25 from most of these locations.

This is the first weekend that this will be a problem, because I was out of town last weekend. I am dreading this because my mom will need the car for errands all afternoon Saturday and to visit my grandma from 3-5pm on Sunday, but I also have plans during the weekend. And, honestly, I would prefer to not spend the whole weekend at my parents' (I'm planning on having friends over to my place, etc). How do we get around this?

So, how do we share?
Are there any solutions or work-arounds that I'm not seeing? If any of you have shared a car for a couple weeks or longer with someone you don't live with, what tips do you have?

I know this is a pretty minor problem to have and it will resolve itself before the end of the month, but it's frustrating me, so I figured I'd ask the hivemind for help!
posted by rue72 to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
i think you are going to have to get others involved or see if you can priceline a cheap rental in order for everyone to have a car exactly when they need it. she might be able to rent for not much more than cab fare.

can she get a ride to work with a coworker? can one of you borrow a car for a weekend?

can you shuttle to work and catch a ride home with soemone or can your mom come pick you up?

I would definitely have her try to rent a car for teh weekend. YOu are being kind to accomodate your mom, but you don't have to give up everything for her car trouble.

If for some reason this is due to a car accident or something where insurance is paying for the repairs, you should check with insurance about paying for a rental.
posted by domino at 7:47 AM on February 8, 2019 [10 favorites]

I don't think you are missing anything, this doesn't sound particularly doable or sustainable. I'd plan on getting a cheap rental car OR sitting down together with your schedules and planning it so that whoever's ride will be shorter/cheaper is the one who gets Lyft or a cab. Right now it sounds like your mom cabbing it home IS the cheaper option.

My only suggestion to save on cab fares would be that you pick your mom up after work on weekdays and bring her home and then go out and do your stuff.
posted by anderjen at 8:04 AM on February 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yes, I was also going to suggest you shuttling your mom home on at least some weekdays, and if that's absolutely not possible then she can take a cab.

For the weekend, I think you are within your rights to say to your mom that she needs to confine her errands to X times (maybe the Grandma thing is a standing obligation that she can't move, but errands are any time, right?). You are being very kind to help out but that doesn't mean that you don't get first pick of when to use the car, and it's okay to place limits that require some prioritizing of her needs (e.g., she would like to complete 5 errands that will take 3.5 hours, but you're only willing to have her use the car for 2.5 hours on Saturday morning so a few of those errands will just have to wait).
posted by Bebo at 8:10 AM on February 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

In addition to a "cheap rental" the traditional way, look into ZipCar car-sharing program.

If your mom is comfortable with her smartphone, Uber and Lyft are often cheaper or competitive with taxi service; may be a less-expensive option for her ride home.

The errands: since it's her car in the shop, it's primarily her inconvenience. She should take a hard look: which errands are postpone-able or outsource-able? For example, a hair appointment or spa service should be rescheduled. Grocery shopping? Consider ordering online and scheduling home-delivery. Non-essential errands such as clothes shopping or dry-cleaning pickup can simply wait until she has her own car back.

"A couple weeks" sounds like an expensive repair resulting from a significant accident or complex recall fix. (such as: the Toyota pickup truck frame recall of a couple years back.) For a significant accident, she may have rental coverage through her policy, or she may be eligible to demand rental coverage through the other motorists' policy, depending on who's at fault. She could check with her insurance agent.

If Mom's car is at a dealer's shop: Dealers often have inexpensive in-house rentals available, though perhaps not available for the entire stretch of the repair. Worth the ask.
posted by Ardea alba at 8:35 AM on February 8, 2019

For the weekend: can you pick up your mom (if you're not already with her) and then have her drop you at your place on Saturday afternoon so that you can hang out there and have friends over, etc., while she runs her errands? And I agree with the above that depending on the nature of her errands, it's very reasonable for you to dictate when exactly she will be able to borrow/not borrow it. Alternatively, it sounds like the metro is pretty doable for you - can you just metro over the course of the day?

On Sunday, maybe you could join her for the grandma visit or just drop her there in the course of doing whatever else you like (how far is it?). That would give you full control of the car for all other time periods, assuming those are her two primary needs.

Other thoughts: is there anyone your mom can carpool to/from work with? What about you? Can your mom give you a ride home from the metro, or swing by and pick you up somewhere else convenient in the PM?

I live in your area and I don't own a car, as do many many other people. Absent special needs, transit & supplemental shuttle/lyft/bike/etc. should really be doable for most common trips. Rental cars are also relatively cheap if it comes to it, though.
posted by mosst at 8:41 AM on February 8, 2019

Even if insurance isn't an option, renting a car for a few weeks is ~$25 per day - cheaper than you taking a cab home at night - and that's without a good deal/coupon search. Maybe worth looking into?
posted by brainmouse at 8:42 AM on February 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

If the car is at a dealer for repair, the dealer should be able to provide a loaner car. Some private garages will offer loaners too.
posted by tman99 at 8:54 AM on February 8, 2019

My mom works 8-4/M-F and I work 9-5/M-F

Is there the possibility of one of you temporarily changing your work schedule to line up with the other's?

we both want/need the car at the same time

Like other commenters, I don't think you're really missing anything, but it does kinda sound like you and your mom are hoping for a "One Weird Trick" where you can both carry out your normal life activities unchanged while sharing a car. I just don't see how that really works out. "Want" and "need" are two different things and I think both you and your mom should consider which activities are which and have a discussion and work out compromises so that the person who needs the car can use it, and the other may have to just deal with additional costs (cab/Uber/Lyft), or inconvenience (putting off unessential errands, giving themselves plenty of extra time to deal with the vagaries of public transportation), or maybe even postponing or passing on "want" activities (again, errands, or some of whatever it is you usually do after work, maybe.)

(As the actual owner of the car I do think you've got some justification for the position that if Mom & Dad don't actually need the car at any given time, then it returns to you and you can use it for whatever you want. You know best how to approach this with your parents.)
posted by soundguy99 at 10:22 AM on February 8, 2019

Some possibilities:

You take the shuttle to work, she takes your car to work, drops her stuff off at home, picks you up at work to give you your car, and takes a bus home.

For the weekend, your mom deals with not doing errands. (She can do them some evening when she has the car.) You keep the car except for Grandma's visit. You deliver the car to her then, she drops you back home, and keeps the car overnight for her morning commute.

Your mom stays late at work to do her grading, etc. so she doesn't need to drag so much stuff back and forth, making it easier to take the bus. And/or your dad rides the bus with her to help carry stuff.

She stays at your place to help manage carpooling. You get up early and drop her off at work before going in yourself, she stays late until you pick her up.

Is biking an option for either of you? Since you only live a couple miles apart, it might at least make it easier to have the car be wherever it's most convenient that way.

Remember that you should be least inconvenienced by letting your mom borrow car; the work to borrow it should fall on them. And the expense, if you decide it makes sense to take cabs home after work, etc. It's unreasonable to expect you to move out of your own house because they don't want to inconvenience themselves.
posted by metasarah at 3:42 PM on February 8, 2019

Response by poster: Thanks for your advice, everybody.

In the end, I sucked it up and just stayed with my parents for the duration. It wasn't the most fun (I always become exponentially more neurotic around them) but it did seem like the path most likely to keep us on good terms. And today my mom finally got her car back! I finally get to go home! :)
posted by rue72 at 12:16 PM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

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