Long-term storage or sell?


We’re expat-ing to China for 3 years. I have a 2001 Audi TT Roadster (not quattro) with 52K miles. It’s in really good shape, all servicing done at a dealer; new convertible-top installed ~15 months ago. It’s been garaged for most of it’s life (early 4 years outside when we didn’t have a garage in RI).
I LOVE this car; and I don’t like the current-model’s styling and size.
I can’t say in 3 years if/when we return that I would want this make/model, but I do really love this car. [I had my other ‘love’ (Honda CRX) for 13 yrs/225K miles…once I commit, I stick.]
Is it worth storing this car for 3 years? and how best is that done?
appreciate your thoughts.

You’ll be better off selling, you can’t put a car away for 3 years without major issues or constant expenses. You’ll be able to find something similar/newer when you get back, and you may want something different by then, anyway.

Sell the vehicle while it still has a some value. When you return the vehicle will need repairs and it’s value will have decreased.

Sell! The storage time is too long not to require detailed attention and significant costs.

Well, it does not make sense to keep the car, if you really like it, then you really like it.  However in three years they may have a new car out that you may love even more.  

I don't think it is a simple answer, you need to make up your mind.  I would sell.

Here’s another vote for “sell.” The car will continue to lose value in storage, and you’ll probably have troubles when you try to revive it three years from now. The fuel system is just one of many potential nightmares.

Besides, your priorities may change after three years in China. You may have no interest in this car when you return.

Sell it and bank the money. Find another automobile to love when you return.

Sell it. Or take it with you. Contact the US State Department and find out if you can take it with you, and what you need to do when you arrive. I doubt that they have safety or pollution standards your car won’t meet. The other issue is fuel. You will need premium unleaded gasoline. Is that available in your new home?

BTW, I heard a strange story on the radio last week. It seems that a US expat was living in China and enjoying it very much. He had the misfortune of slipping on the way home from a soccer game, and he kicked his ball into someone in a cafe. The person that was hit picked a fight, but the American got in trouble with the law. He was arrested, and served 8 months in jail before he finally got out and came home. The guy that had him arrested wanted $2000 to forget about it. But the American decided that principle was too important. He did not understand that he should have negotiated a settlement with the other guy. That’s the way it works in China. It took him 8 months in a filthy, awful jail to learn his lesson. I’m not suggesting that anything like this will happen to you, but it’s good to know if such a problem crops up.

If you have enough money to work with, concern about depreciation and storage cost may not be a factor in your decision. The decision then becomes keeping the car or not because you like it and have a good place to store it and can either do or have done what it takes to clean out the fuel system on your return. Other fluid changes and a new battery would be needed as well. Some would say that the car would need new tires but might not worry about tires in use for three years so the need for new tires is debatable.

If you err and there is another car that you might like better on your return, you gambled on something of less than major significance.

A car stored in a cool dry place out of the weather does not deteriorate. Seals do not “dry out”. One of my cars, stored in winters, is well over 20 years old and is in frequent use.

Three years is too long…The car will lose too much value and become obsolete and dated…There are all kinds of hidden costs associated with storing a car…If you have to pay for storage space, then it becomes a really bad move…

Best option is to sell the car. If you must keep it the biggest issue is the gas will deteriorate and separate in the gas tank. Before storing the car you should have all gas drained from the tank and all the gas removed from the fuel rails and fuel injectors. After the fuel is drained remove all the spark plugs and put a tablespoon of oil down each cylinder, crank the engine for about 15 seconds and then reinstall the plugs. Wash and wax the exterior, clean the interior and place mouse killer (d-con) in the trunk, under the hood, and inside the cabin. Park it indoors somewhere and hope for the best 3 years from now.

Normally I would say sell the car but a few things cause me to veer off a bit and say keep it.

One is the assumption, right or wrong, that you owe nothing on the car.

You love the car and it has very low miles.

It’s 11 years old and depreciation, resale value, etc is not that big an issue IMO.

If you decide to keep the car then I would recommend storing it inside, donate the battery to the needy because it will be junk when you return, preferably remove as much gasoline from the car as possible and then allow the engine to operate on the remaining dregs until it runs out of gas and dies. Placing the car up on blocks or jackstands is an option. For a duration of 3 years I’d block it up.

(The reason for getting the gasoline out is because stale gasoline will often kill a fuel pump or will frequently cause the pump to die soon after the car is put back into operation.

I have resurrected a car that had sat for 8 years and it wasn’t very bad. Rubber parts become a problem. What is the resale value now? Is that money going to open any doors? If yes I say sell it, if no then keep it and worse case scenario you can get rid of it in 3 years.
Now as they always say the devil is in the details, so is it 3 years or at least 3 years?

" For a duration of 3 years I’d block it up." While I agree with OK, I would add that tyres don’t just wear out, they also get old and old tyres are not safe. You might want to consider that you may need new tyres when you return.

This was great – appreciate everyone’s prompt feedback.
It is owned free/clear; probably not really worth (beyond my love) the storage fee…
Now, do any of you have thoughts on taking my cats??

I hear they make good shish-ka-bob’s…

just kidding…

As for the cats, a trip like that would be hard on any cat. Young cats can handle it better than older cats. I think I would see that my sister or niece would care for the cats while I was away.

How would the cats go to the bathroom during the trip? It’s at least 12 hours in the air. If you can get through the air trip, the rest might not be too bad. What would you do with the cats if you didn’t take them?

Long flights are hard on any animal - even the human one. They used to sedate them (pets, not us), and they’d make the trip in the hold. They don’t do that so much anymore, since they figured out that the animal actually makes the trip better if they’re not sedated. Thus, you’ll have to have some way of allowing them to “take care of business”. Contact the airline if you’re interested. They can make the trip without too much of a problem.

Before you take them, though, check into the import/export of animals. It’s not like people, and mostly you’ll have to provide shot records and the like. Depending on flight path, you may not be able to take them off the plane at any possible stop. I’m not sure about China, but some countries also have quarantine times imposed on inbound animals. I don’t think it’s an issue here, but it’s worth checking into.

Good luck!

How would you feel about selling the car, and picking up another same model when you return. If you feel ok about it sell it and get another when you get back, if not listen to all the tips about proper storage for the car. It was interesting about Jeff, who had bonded with his car and was concerned about replacing the engine, I guess cars are an emotional thing. I put my faithful f150 into storage, for a year, it smelled different from sitting, needed little, but I would not have felt the same happiness to see my truck if I had decided to sell it and replace it with the exact same year and model, though I would not have probably replaced it with a replica if I had sold it. It served me well for another 12 years,