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Sell or park the cars for 2 years?


My employer wants me to relocate to United Kingdom for about 2 years on an assignment and then come back to Chicago where I live presently. I own two cars, a 2005 BMW X5 and a 1999 Honda Civic. Both the cars are well maintained.

My question is whether to keep the cars parked in the garage of my house or to sell them? If I keep the cars, I have friends who I can request to take-out the cars for a short drive every 3-4 months if required. Does that make sense?

Appreciate the advice.

Definitely sell the X5. I’d sell the Honda as well – why pay registration and insurance on a car you won’t be driving? Rent a car whenever you return for a visit.

I’d sell. The trouble is 2 years is too long for the gas in the tank, even if you use fuel stabilizer and your friend drives them every so often (insurance required, $$).

SELL!!! Add the 2 year depreciation, storage, insurance and the care while away, and you’ll find that the proceeds of the sale invested will allow you to buy 2 cars when you return.

The cars would need to be driven more often than every 3-4 months. More like every 3-4 weeks.

I’d say store for one year, but no longer. Two years is too long.

Sell them and bank the money.

I’d sell them. It’s no problem storing them for two years if done correctly but; you’ll have a two year older car you’ve gain no use from. You’re loosing money in depreciation and age wear w/o the benefits. And too, maybe internal combustion engines may be outlawed by then, Ah, never thought of that did you ? Where would you be then ?
Seriously, two years is too long to hang onto something without the value in supplying anyone with the transportation it was designed for.
Neither is a work of art.

I’d sell the BMW because in 2 years it will depreciate significantly. Sell it and put the money in a special bank account for a down payment on a car when you return.

Since the Civic is pretty well depreciated by now, I’d keep it. It’s value won’t decrease much if at all in the 2 years you are away. I won’t have anyone drive it.

To store the Civic; run the gas tank down to about 1/8 of a tank of gas and add stabilizer to the fuel. Run the motor for about 10 mins to be sure stabilized gas gets from the tank into the motor. Put the battery on a battery tender type of charger. Wash and wax the car. Spread some d-con and mice traps around the garage under the car, in the trunk, in the interior, and under the hood. A few days before storing the car have the oil changed, coolant drained and refilled with fresh coolant.

In 2 years you can put 5 gallons of fresh gas in the tank, throw away the mouse traps, fill the tires with air if they are soft, and if all goes well the car will fire right up. That way you’ll have some transportation while you shop for a new 2nd car.

I would store the Civic slightly differently. First, I would use a double dose of fuel stabilizer. Second, I would be worried about the air conditioner compressor seizing or its seals drying up. If it has an air conditioner, I would want someone to start up the car and run the air conditioner every 3-4 months. Lastly, the corrosion inhibitors in most coolants last about two years, so I would change the coolant a second time shortly after returning from the UK.

Thank you folks, for your insightful responses. You helped me confirm the thoughts building up in my mind and also convince my wife who has sentimental attachments to both the cars :slight_smile:

Building up on your suggestions of keeping the Civic but selling-off the BMW, I was wondering if there is a formal/legal way of loaning my Civic to one of my friends for the next 2 years.

They live in Chicago downtown and usually rent a car to run errands/grocery shopping etc. over the weekends. I don’t want them to pay me anything as long as they take care of regular maintenance, insurance etc. and then return it to us once we are back in US. I see it as taking care of keeping the car running for my benefit and also saving them on weekend rentals. Given the age of the car, I’m OK with a couple of thousand miles that they may put on the car in the next couple of years.

Your suggestions on what kind of legal or otherwise framework we can use to make it happen are very welcome!


That’s a good way to keep the Civic. I would write out what you expect, and what they expect (the terms) and have you and them sign 2 copies, you each keep one. They’re obligated to maintain, insure, and repair the car (you may have to agree on what amount of repairs they’re responsible for). The more complete and detailed you can be at this point, the better the chance of avoiding misunderstandings and hard feelings when you return.

There are too many legal and liability issues here to loan or rent your car to a friend. You can contact your DMV and insurance company for details. Most insurance policies limit the amount of time you can “lend” your car. A simpler solution would be to sell it to your friend for $1.00 (limits the sales tax they will pay) with an agreement to sell it back to you for $1.00 (assuming it is in decent condition when you return). This will eliminate your liability during your two-year absence.

And you get cars that have been used for two years and no guarantee the maintenance and use would make either worthwhile to keep. Everything points to sell. A commitment to a car (?) for two years would drive me crazy when there will be more worthwhile choices out there by then. It’s a commodity made to be used by someone,not a loved one. And, there may be more than a few of use who might not be willing to “reclaim” a wife we had not seen for two years; or the opposite more likey.
Just to be morbid…
Every one knows they are going to die; few even suspect they are going to die soon, which is a
mistake in the way we live. Dump them both, move on and evaluate your automotive needs in two years
without having this albatross hanging over your head.

A while ago, I needed help getting my Civic from one place to another, and a friend of mine needed a car for about six weeks. I called my insurance agent, explained the situation, and made sure everything was okay. I think it might have helped that both my friend and I use the same insurance company, but it probably wasn’t necessary. Then it was just a matter of getting her to Jacksonville, teaching her how to drive a stick, and sending her back down south. Then when I moved down south, my car was already there waiting for me, and the clutch didn’t show any signs of damage.

You are talking about a longer time frame, but you will definitely need to work out the insurance issue to settle who is going to pay for it, and you might also want to seek legal advice.

throw my vote in for selling both. Neither are rare vehicles, so keeping them is not really necessary. Put the money you get in a 2 year CD and cash out when you come home, you’ll have a decent amount to spend on a new car, or cars.

Sell both, park money in a savings account and buy both of them with $ 7K less. On top of that, you will end up saving money on insurance, title, registration etc, so its a no brainer.

I would sell both cars–probably on Craigslist or something rather than giving them to the dealer. However, if you feel like doing your friends a favor and keep one car at the same time, you could turn over the title to your friend as a “gift.” DMV should not charge you sales tax for that. Then, write a contract saying that you have a right to buy back the car for $1.00 in or about September 2013, or of the car at that time is sold or in unsafe/unmaintained condition, you have the right to claim what the car is worth (you can arrive at how much in many different ways. You can pin down the value now or say something like at the time you demand the car back the value of a particular model posted on low private party value or whatever). In the contract, if everything goes as planned, you come back two years from now and get the Civic from your friends. If they wreck it/junk it/got it stolen or sold it, you would get the car’s value as agreed on the contract. So, if your friends fail to give you the Civic in good condition two years from now, you can be compensated for it.

Here’s another vote for selling them both.

If you’re absolutely in love with the X5, I’d keep that one and get rid of the Honda, especially if you plan on returning and buying another X5. A 2005 has already depreciated a lot, and if you buy a new one upon your return, you’re going to lose all that value again as soon as you drive it off the lot. If you have the money and want a brand new one, then by all means get rid of it and buy a new car(s) on your return.

This is a very old question. Makes no sense to respond now.

Perhaps djvjain, who decided to revive this 4 month+ old thread, thought that the OP is still sitting at his/her computer, eagerly awaiting new responses.