Should I lend my car for a road trip?

As I was listening to the show this week I wondered if I am making the right decision in lending my car to my sister for a summer road trip. This road trip is 1.5 weeks and goes from CA to Boise,ID to Portland, OR and back to CA.

The car is a 97 Subaru Outback Impreza, manual transmission, it has 125,000 miles. I recently took it in for the 120,000 mile service and had the AC recharged, the tires were bought new last year.

My biggest concern is that my sister drives a manual very infrequently, my other concern is that somehow the car will break down on her somewhere in the Nevada desert.

What do you all think? To lend or not to lend, that is the question!

Assuming the car is now in good condition, I would say it should be OK. However I don’t generally recommend loaning anyone my car for a trip like that. If all goes well fine, but if something happens, then everyone hates everyone.

I would not be especially concerned about the shifting. You don’t do much shifting when doing highway miles. On the other hand, she could well end up driving a lot of city hills and driving a manual on city hills can be a challenge for anyone who does not do it on a regular basis.

I have the feeling that it would be you that would be responsible if something major went wrong with the car, meaning your sister could just walk away with her suitcase, do you have a plan to take care of ALL when your sister buys a bus ticket?

How much of a problem to you would it be if it broke down in Nevada? How critical is it that you have the car back on time? If it’s no big deal, go drive around with her for a few times to let her get the hang of the clutch. If your car is critical for you/your job, then I’m not so sure.

I’d say no to the lending for the road trip. There are too many ways this can all backfire on you and get ugly. Have sis looking into a “RentAWreck” or some other cheap rental.

My first suggestion is that she rents a car for the road trip. If it was my only car, I’d have a hard time lending to someone (even my sister). If it’s just one car in the fleet, then no problem. If it was my only car, I’d also rent one for a road trip. Even minor break downs would cost more than a rental. If you do decide to lend it to her, agree up front who will be responsible if it breaks down – will she pay for a tow, clutch replacement, flat tire (or replacement), accident, etc. What if the cost of repair exceeds the value of the vehicle? Is she covered under your insurance for that long of a trip?

I would not do it, not just for me, but for my sister’s well being and future family relationships.


Thanks for everyone’s input. The sister in question is very reliable and I don’t need the car back in any sort of hurry as I bike to work and can take the bus everywhere else. I will talk to her about potential rental options based on everyone’s opinion.

Check out or costco’s web site, under travel, for rental rates. When you find one that looks to be the best write it down, then go to Priceline and “Name your Own Price”. You have to click the button for name your price - otherwise you go back to hotwire. In the price naming process offer a price that works out to at least 30% less, total including taxes. If they accept your offer you have paid right away and it is not refundable.

No matter how remote the possibility is, there might be an accident. You are the only one with insurance, and you will be liable if something goes awry. If you are comfortable with the risk, loan her the car.

I talked to my insurance company and they are ok with it. Is that unusual? She also owns a car and has heR own insurance.

Lending to family members or anyone can be tough if anything goes wrong. I generally go by the adage…never lend anything you can’t afford to give away. If it’s “lost in accident, damaged or broken down” during this trip, can you afford to absorb all the cost ? If so, go ahead. If not, recovery of funds can strain family relationships.

My first thoughts would be insurance! If any accidents happen (whether her fault or someone elses) there could be alot of money spent in fixing the car up, or buying a new car, and your insurance can go up. Also, if something does go wrong with the car it could cause a strain in your relationship. My ideas are keep money cars and such out of family relationships because it can cause alot of problems in families. If none of that is really a concern for your situation then by all means loan her your car, but be aware of the possiblities.

OK. I was under the impression that she did not own a car from the initial post. It looks like everyone is covered. Let her have her fun. I’m sure that she will return the favor some time.

Sometimes these deals can put a strain on a relationship so I would make sure there is a real meeting of the minds in advance. This is still pretty iffy in my opinion.

This car is near 14 years old. Has the timing belt/water pump been changed? If not, then what happens when your sister is sitting on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere due to a ruined engine?

Fuel pump been changed? Age and high mileage means it could go anytime. Same scenario; sitting on the side of the road.

If the A/C was inoperable and it took a recharge to get it going then there’s a chance that might not hold up for long. Recharging usually means a somewhat serious leak unless this recharge only involved a half can of refrigerant to top things off.

That timing belt issue is the 800 pound gorilla. If it’s never been done it’s a mechanical accident waiting to happen. The only surprise is that it hasn’t happened already.

Keeping all technicalities aside, if your sister does mange to wreck the car in some way, would it affect your relationship with her? I think once you can answer honestly to yourself, you?ll have your answer right there.