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GARAGING a car for 2 years -- HELP! Advice please?

I have a 2006 VW Jetta with less than 15,000 miles in great condition in Mass. I am planning to be in Europe for at least 2 years for work. Can someone advise me of some options? The car is fully paid and I would prefer to not sell it. Is garaging the car a terrible idea???

You can store the car if you want to. I would change the oil out just before leaving. There are some fuel sabilizer treatments that you should put in the gas to preserve it. I would also remove the negative battery cable so the battery doesn’t discharge. It would be good to have the car started for a little while around every 4 months or so if you know someone that can do that for you.

Another thought is to sell the car before you leave and then have no liability with it. You stated that you would like to keep it but in case you haven’t thought about it I will mention this. By selling the car now and placing the cash you receive from the sale into a low risk investment you will stop the further depreciating value on the car and make some extra money in the mean time. Though the car won’t have many miles on it, the value will still be considerably less when you return, be at least four years old then, and out of a normal warranty period. When you return you can use the investment money to purchase a new vehicle and also have a new warranty on the car. You will have to pay out some more money of course but having a new car and warranty with it may be worth it for you.

First decide if you really want to do it. Consider the cost, storage, insurance (you should keep the comprehensive active) and loose of the use of the money that might otherwise be used elsewhere or payments made on a car you are not using, but is loosing market value. I am not saying don’t do it, that is your decision, but do consider the down sides. Also consider that in two years your needs for a car may change.

As for storage, you need a safe dry location for it. Outside is hard on a car and in a moist environment is also hard.

Fuel is iffy. I would add stabilizer and fill the tank. That should take care of that. Run it long enough to assure the stabilizer has mixed with all the fuel including that in the fuel lines.

Change the oil, make sure the coolant is good. Clean it.

Remove the battery. It will need to be tended (kept charged) or replaced when you return. Removing it also reduces the change of someone stealing it. They seldom bring a spare battery.

You need to protect it from mice etc. I believe that some suggest adding a tablespoon or two to each cylinder and then turn the engine over once or twice manually (same thing when you get back.)

Don’t leave the parking brakes on, them may stick on. It is not necessary to put the car on blocks to protect the tyres as modern cars don’t need that help. If it is stored inside, I would like to have the windows at least cracked for ventilation, but remember you only do this if there are not animals or insects that might use that for access.

Good Luck with any decision you make. Have fun in Europe.

The problem is cars really do better being used than being stored.   

[b] I missed the TDI in your name, and I own a TDI. In any case that changes things a little. Diesel does not have the same problems as gasoline with time. It does not need the stabilizer as much, but if any moisture in in there at all, over two years you would likely end up with algae growing in there. That could be a problem. I wish I could remember for sure. Stop by and do a search on storage and see what you find. You will get the right answer there for the diesel part of the storage issue.

I agree with what the other posters have said, except I would point out that, judging from your user name, that this car is a diesel. I must admit I don’t really know if there’s a diesel equivelent of gas stabilizer or how well the diesel fuel will hold up over this time period.

I will put forward one other argument on the “sell it” side. Usually I tell people in this situation that they should also consider depreciation. Instead of going through the bother of storing it, you could sell it and then, when you get back, you’ll be able to buy pretty much the same car for probably less than you sold yours for. Or, theoretically, you could sell your '06 now and buy an '08 when you get back. This is doubley true for you because we are smack-dab in the middle of the great TDI drought (VW isn’t selling TDI’s here at the moment) and consequently late-model used VW diesels are selling for very close to what a new one costs. Just something to consider.

Also, have you thought about taking it with you?

If you store it for 2 or more years, you should put the car on blocks so that the tires do not develop flat spots. It should also be stored under cover, if possible. This implies using a car port or garage; possibly a tent of sufficient size to protect it from the elements.

If you need transportation in Europe, you might consider taking it with you. In large cities it will be a liability. It would be almost impossible to park it in Amsterdam, for instance. Check with the DMV equivalent at your new home before you leave to see if it is possible to take it with you.

There is nothing wrong with storeing a car if you don’t mind doing it right and not cutting cornes. Buy four jack stands and let the car rest on the jack stands with the tires completely off the car. Run the gas tank empty, until the car runs out of gas. Otherwise after about six months that gas will start to convert to kerosine smelling stuff. It will dry out any rubber fuel lines and not have enough octane to start the car. Make very sure that all the windows are rolled up and critters can’t get inside the car from the smallest of openings. I came home from Germany a few years ago and found my back seat stuffing in the Y of a tree branch. A squirrel got in through the trunk and took the seat stuffing for a nest. Cover the car, and the tires. As an extra precaution, set out a humane trap in the same garage.

I can see that you are willing to eat the depreciation and want to keep your car; nothing wrong with that. I’d like to add that the garage where you will keep it must be dry and well ventilated. Moisture, otherwise, can migrate through a concrete floor and rust your brake disks and clutch if you have one. Diesel fuel can support the growth of organisms that can plug your fuel filter. I just wonder if a little gasoline such as a half gallon per tank would prevent that. Gasoline is nasty stuff for live things and only a little will not harm your diesel. My older VW diessel will tolerate much more gasoline as a method to fight jelling in very cold weather.

Removing the battery to inhibit vehicle theft sounds like a great idea.

Jackstands for 2 years sounds good; also can forestall theft. For 6 months, I would not bother. Flat spotting happened with bias ply nylon reinforced tires but steel belted radials do not have that problem but use jackstands anyhow.

Glow plugs are more accessible with a TDI and a small dollop of engine oil in each cylinder through the glow plug holes would prevent cylinder rusting to eliminate the need for periodic startup. Rotate the engine using the starter motor and with the glow plugs out to distribute oil and to not cause hydrolock which can ruin your engine. Narrow path to follow here.

Don’t even bother to worry about your battery; plan to buy a new one when you return in two years.

I’d throw a good amount of moth balls in the trunk and interior for good measure.

Be assured that if a car is stored properly, it will not deteriorate. I store a car for 7 months every summer and another car for 5 months every winter with good results. One will be 12 this year. the other will be 22. You do not need to have the car driven.

I don’t think you’ll have a problem at all with it stored inside. It would help to put the car up on a few blocks or jackstands and get the tires off the floor. Elevating the tires, stuffing a rag into the exhaust tip, and spreading some rodent poison around can help keep the vermin off of it while you’re gone.

Write the battery off though because it will not survive 2 years of non-use. You could give the battery to a friend of relative in exchange for maybe dropping by every 6 months to take a quick look at the car?

Forgot something. Leave as little fuel as possible in the tank and add some fuel stabilizer to what is left.

Forgot something. Leave as little fuel as possible in the tank and add some fuel stabilizer to what is left.


She has a diesel. I can’t remember if the standard stabilizer is recommended for diesel or not. Do you know?

Yes, they make fuel stabilizer for diesel fuel.

And don’t forget to run the engine for a short time to make sure the “stabilized fuel” has worked its way from the tank up to the injector pump.

How much did you pay for the car? Currently your car’s value is around $22k++ and there is demand for TDI’s since they do not currently sell the engine(coming soon for revised diesel). Its an easy sell and when you come back you can get whatever your heart desires not think of baggage like a car.