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Leaving the country for a year - mothball or sell my Subaru 2018 Forester?

hello from a new member in northern CA - I’ve recently learned that I will be spending a year in Iceland on a research project, and I am weighing the pros and cons of leaving my Subaru Forester, 2018 model with a manual transmission, parked in a friend’s driveway vs. selling it and buying a new car when I return. I still owe about $12k on this car, and it’s in very good shape, about 25K miles. thanks for any suggestions you might have as to which option is likely better, or just what the pros and cons of each approach might be!

A year is nothing. Keep the wheels off the ground, keep as little as possible gasoline in the tank and remove the battery. Dump a bunch of rat/snake poisoning in the engine compartment and you are good to go to Iceland. Lovely place.


Your asking a friend to take care of a vehicle for a year that could be vandalized , stolen or just set there and the tires go flat . You might have to have them keep the registration up , pay insurance plus you will make payments the whole time . If you have a Carmax near you see what they will pay for this vehicle then you will have more of an idea of what to do.


I would give weight to selling it and being free of the payments, the loss of value due to depreciation, and the potential hazards to the car and to the relationship with your friend while it sits for a year.


If you leave it one spot for a year, rodent damage will be much more likely. If you have a current registration on it, you may need to retain insurance. Ask your insurer what it costs to store a car with insurance active.

If rodents start gnawing on your wiring, it might result in a new wiring harness. Troubleshooting, parts, and labor for replacement could run over $1000, maybe $2000 if damage is extensive enough. The problem is that you need to determine how likely this is to occur. If all you need to do is recharge the battery, letting it sit is a bargain.

I would sell my car if this happened to me, but I don’t carry loans. If you sell the car, you have to pay the loan off. I expect you could get more than $12,000 for the Subie, so you won’t be underwater when you pay off the loan.


thanks, and no, definitely not underwater – similar models/mileage seem to be selling for about $24K in my area.

Can’t take it to Iceland with you? What are you going to do for transportation while in Iceland? Driving to an eastern port and shipping could be the lowest total cost option available.

Edit: Comparing two identical Foresters in the same zip code and same mileage, a 2018 and a 2017 indicates a loss in value of around $2700. Now add the insurance and the cost of transportation in Iceland without a car and compare that to the cost of shipping it to Iceland, using it for transportation and shipping it back to an eastern port, and the cost of the cross country drive, which you might enjoy if you make a vacation out of it and you may change your mind.

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wow, that possibility never occurred to me – particularly since i live in California, assumed shipping a car would be prohibitively expensive. but it’s definitely something to look into, as i will need a car while I’m in Iceland (I’ll be living in a fairly remote corner of the country) – i’d been planing on a long-term rental/lease while there. i’ll have to figure out what kinds of import taxes etc. they might have for bringing a car in from outside the country – but definitely something to research. thanks for the suggestion!

Import taxes are something to consider, every country is different, BUT they might not charge an import tax if you don’t try to sell it there or establish residency. See if they have an international registration or if they will honor your California Registration and your California Drivers License.

If they honor your California Registration, make sure you will get the renewal in Iceland, either forwarded by a friend or by change of address at the DMV. Also check the see if the Cal DMV does electronic renewal so they only need your e-mail.

BTW, it this is in anyway related to the Military, see about CPO orders and the status of forces agreements will cover a lot of the legalities for you.

Edit: see if Iceland has an embassy near you. They may have on in San Francisco. That would be the best place to start.

Second edit: Iceland is part of the European Union so that should make things a LOT easier.

You may be required to pay off the loan before the vehicle can leave the port.

A year is really not that long. I stored my car for 8 months and never even considered selling it. But I’m not sure a friend’s driveway is the best option. Who wants a car in their driveway for a year? Plus the possibility of rodents and vandalism. I would try and rent a garage or get it into a secure facility where you can seal the openings. Six of one and half a dozen of the other. Who wants to come home after a year and start looking for a car though?

Store it indoors with fresh oil and tires off the ground.

While I’m leaning towards the ‘sell it’ side, if you do end up storing it somewhere, I’d drive it enough to require fresh gas, and I’d put in a double dose of Sta-bil gas preservative.

I have a very good friend who would let me park in his drive for maybe 2 months . Any longer then that I can see him getting irritated at mowing and trimming and having this thing in his way .

thanks everyone for the responses – i’ve just learned that renting a car in Iceland on long-term rental, for an equivalent to my Forester, will run about $900-1000/month, so i may end up selling my car here and buying one there, instead of mothballing mine – although will still look into the import taxes associated with shipping my car there for the year. greatly appreciate the feedback here!


thanks for coming back with your take on it.
all too often we do not see the original poster (OP) giving the finals for us to satisfy our curiosity.
please drop a line back here once you make your mind.
I would be interested to know what the shipping/taxes are going to be for your case.

Take lots of heavy sweaters and good luck to you.

You might want to check if your warranty is good in Iceland . It should be but if it is not that is not something you want to find out when you need it .

Are Subarus sold/serviced in Iceland? You might want to get a car easily serviced there.

Edit - turns out there is a Subaru dealer there, so that’s good.

Sell it and go live your adventure unencumbered. Find something that fits your needs when you get back, besides you never know what changes are on the horizon. A lot can happen in a year.

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