Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Car waiting for driver to age, but can owner?

I have a 98 Volvo S70 - and the prospective driver for it is 18 months away from learning to drive. However the DMV renewal is coming up soon.

I’m struggling to drive and maintain 2 cars right now - and the Volvo needs a new battery and rear tires but is otherwise in great shape - only 90,000 miles on it and I am the original owner - careful driver etc - and it has regular oil changes etc.

If I decide to park it in the garage and tell DMV “non-operational” and then plan in 18 months to get a new battery and tires - what should I do now to get the car ready? What happens to a car while it sits for 18 months?

Or should I pay for DMV and new tires and just try to do my best to drive it twice a week for half an hour while doing the school run?

If you’re going to park it, add fuel stabilizer to the tank, fill the tank, and park the car in the garage. Inflate the tires slightly above the recommended pressure, and remove the battery. Make sure you have the security code for the radio before disconnecting the battery. That’s about all you have to do for 18 months.

If you decide to get the battery and tires now, driving the car twice a week for half an hour should be fine. Driving is preferable to storage, but you can store it if you have to.

Add some fuel stabilizer, change the oil, and park it. Since you are planning on replacing the battery you don’t need to worrk about that.

If you wanted to be really anal; take the end that has good tires and put it on blocks (to keep from possible flat spots) and plug the intake and exaust (moisture).

I’m not sure about keeping any 1998 Volvo, I just sold a '98 V70XC that was constantly needing expensive parts. The Volvo is a good choice for safety with a new driver and you know the car’s history so it makes sense.

To store the car for 18 months does not mean you can never start it every so often. Skip the rear tires for now and replace them later. Is the battery totally shot? Storage for a long time isn’t great for a new battery. I’d recommend you buy something called a “Battery Tender”. I use one to store motorcycle batteries and marine batteries. If there is an AC power source near where you store the car you can simply hook up the tender like a you would a normal battery charger, but you leave it attached all the time. The tender monitor’s the battery and keeps it charged without overcharging and “cooking” the battery. If you don’t get a tender you can use a jump start to get the car running.

Before storing the car fill the gas tank and add “Sta Bil” or another fuel stabilizer and fun the engine for 5 minutes to get the treated gas from the gas tank into the motor. Changing the oil is a good idea, and fresh coolant too if it is several years old. Every couple of months it would be wise to start the car, let it run for a few minutes to warm up, and shift the transmission into drive and reverse a few times. A few trips back and forth in the driveway is enough to circulate the fluids and keep the brakes and other parts from getting “frozen” in place from lack of use. To protect the body it is good practice to wash and wax the car. If you are storing it outside I’d strongly suggest a cover to keep leaves and junk from collecting in the air intake just below the windshield.

I’d store it in the garage. Put some stabilizer in the fuel tank and fill it. The drive home should be enough to distribute the stabilizer into the fuel lines/pump. Have the oil changed and the coolant replaced with fresh anti-freeze mix. Remove the old battery and take it to be recycled. Don’t listen to people who say to start it for a few minutes once a week/month, that’s more harmful than helpful.

Get the new tires and battery when you are ready to bring it back into service. FYI: this is what I did for a car I stored in my garage for a little over 1 year while I was working in France. It started right up and gave me years of service after I returned.

Are you sure you’re allowed to tell the state it’s “non-operational” where you live? In my state, there’s no way to do that-- if you don’t renew the registration for a long period of time, when you do go in and register it they’ll charge you up to two years back registration. I found this out the hard way when I bought an old Dodge pickup that had been “put out to pasture” for a few years and when I went to title it, it was something like $150 when for older vehicles it’s usually about 30. Very annoying!

Don’t worry about the “security code” unless the car has an anti-theft radio. Check your owners manual for radio instructions before you disconnect the battery. Check the car for rodent habitation now and then…

Also, plugging the exhaust and intake will help keep rodents out of there as well

You got a lot of good information. I will only add a few things.

Cancel any collision insurance on it. That is the expensive part, keep the comprehensive, that is the cheap part.

I also suggest removing the battery and storing it maybe in your basement. Thieves don’t generally carry an spare battery with them.

If you wanted to be really anal; take the end that has good tires and put it on blocks (to keep from possible flat spots)

That went out with the advent of radial tyres. Where there may still be a few tyres that may develop flat spots nearly all modern tyres will roll off any possible flat spot in the first few miles of driving.

I am not sure I understand why it will cost more to drive and maintain both cars. Are you driving additional miles to do this? Are you planning to drop the insurance on the stored vehicle? If not, it doesn’t matter whether you drive one vehicle or two. The cost of driving is usually incurred proportional to per-mile use.

I suppose you might have a good reason to defer the repair costs, but the best option (if you can afford it) is to fix the car and drive it at least once a week.

The BEST option is to sell the unneeded vehicle. 18 months is a long time. Deal with that situation then.

The Volvo radio in this car likely has a security code.

And do you have both cars listed as commuter vehicles with your insurer? Make the Volvo an occasional use car and list the annual mileage at 3000 or so. The insurance will drop.

If you are considering misreporting the facts for insurance reasons, you may find that your insurance coverage can be denied. It is always best to provide real figures. Insurance companies are not dumb and I would be surprised if they noticed the discrepancy until after you make a claim. That being so, why bother with insurance that is likely not to pay off.