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I really need help with this. We have several cars parked in our yard, 3 pick ups, 2 vans, a sedan and a ford bronco 2. Some (the trucks and ford) have been sitting in the same place for going on 12 Years! Empty gas tanks, no starting the engines, no movement. One of us (not me) wants to keep them, because they may be collectible and worth something. Accept they’re all wrecked or broken in someway. “I just need to fix one thing and we can sell it,” he says, for years now. How can I convince him mechanically that they need to go? I just want a clear driveway! None of our kids have ever known what it’s like to park close to the house! to clarify, I would most appreciate a list of all the things that will go wrong to a vehicle parked for so long. I’ve seen the posts here concerning cars parked for several months, but for a decade? Please help!

  • It,s frustrating cuz he’s in denial that he’s hoarding these things. If I could just get a list of things that could happen to cars parked for so long, it would go a long way towards building a case – Christy Feb 1 at 3:01
  • You might need a site that is more focused on psychology :) but my argument for it would be simpler - if they each only have one thing wrong then sell it with the fault for the value of the car less the cost of repairing the fault. In actual fact it won't be one fault but several causes by years of lack of use – Caius Jard Feb 1 at 7:45
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You won't convince him on a mechanical level, because he'll just lie to you about the state of the car, and you won't have enough knowledge to call him out on it.

Instead, turn it back on him.

“I just need to fix one thing and we can sell it,”

OK. Fix that one thing, and sell it by the end of the week/month.

"But I don't have time to do that"

Sell it as-is, and let the new owner fix 'that one thing'

"But we won't get as much for the car"

But we won't be paying for parts to fix it.

Don't accept the argument of 'they might be collectable'. The only collection going on is rust. Cars - especially common ones - don't become collectable when they're sitting in the open.

Of course, if you name is on the title with a 'OR' modifier, you can sell them without his agreement anyway...

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  • I appreciate you being my first ever answer, cynical though it may be. I’m not worried about him lying about it. We’re both firm believers in Jesus, and the poor man doesn’t know how to lie anyway. The thing is, I would and do know enough mechanics to point out the issues, but he’s had real mechanic friends tell him to just fix the one thing. But they’re just agreeing with him to be nice or something, cuz they don’t want to disappoint him?Who knows? I just need a list of issues to point out from an un-biased third party. Like a second opinion. – Christy Feb 1 at 2:55
  • What is the reasonable total worth of the vehicles, if they were all in average running condition? Now halve it. Now ask if you really need that amount of money - are you struggling to afford food/pay bills etc or if they were all just scooped up in the night and disappeared would you not yearn for anything? If the latter then you don't really need to sell them at all; they could be towed for scrap and you still wouldn't miss the amount of money they wouldn't realize, because you haven't needed that money for years - you've clearly just obtained another vehicle rather than "fix one thing".. – Caius Jard Feb 1 at 7:49
  • ..so I'm guessing you're not poor or struggling. As such, sell them for what they're worth now and look at it as a bonus; all he's doing with the "but I could get more for them" is finding an excuse to avoid letting them go because they're some sort of comfort for a problem that lies elsewhere. Every time he passes a shop that sells lottery tickets, doesn't buy a ticket and then watches the results saying "if I'd bought a ticket I could have won that" he's doing the same thing, and I bet he passes a lot of stores, doesn't buy because he recognizes the unlikeliness, but doesn't see it outside – Caius Jard Feb 1 at 7:56
  • Irrelevant in the USA, but in the UK there is a tiny specialized market for this sort of thing, for people who want to design and build a completely custom but road-legal vehicle. Because of a "feature" in UK vehicle law, it is much easier to "modify" an existing non-scrapped vehicle than start from "nothing". The only essential items for this are the vehicle registration documents and the physical VIN plates from the original vehicle, but most people would use the original chassis or subframe as well. – alephzero Feb 1 at 13:15
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I'm reasonably certain that taking a photo on your cellphone and then visiting the local car dealership or even wreckers yard with a "give me your best cash price for these; why is your offer so low" will produce an even longer list of excuses and barter-downs than I can think of here (especially as he will know the toll your climate has on vehicles) but a car that is parked up exposed to the elements for a long time will likely need the following considering to be restored to service:

  • new battery - they self discharge at varying rates and once 5ey drop below around 70 percent charge they're well on the way to being goosed

  • full change of all fluids and consumables that would be done in a service (paper filters degrade, oils degrade especially if they've been in service prior and acquired moisture and acidity from combustion by products, waters stagnate and block with algae if the appropriate chemicals aren't added)

  • air con systems usually get ruined by lack of use as regular pumping of the refrigerant is vital to keeping seals in good condition

  • rubber becomes harder and brittle with oil contamination and sunlight exposure; gaiters, pipes, new set of tyres especially if any have gone flat and perished the side walls. Rubbers and plastics especially in the cab exposed to day heat, lose their plasticisers and become brittle

  • mold takes over every surface regularly touched by humans; radio knobs, indicators etc become sticky and slimy especially for cars parked in the shade

  • wires corrode where different metals (eg aluminium connectors on copper wires) are in contact - this is electrolytic and independent of climate, but also repeated cycles of condensation and other climate effects have a corrosive nature.

  • full check over for the effects gnawing animals have on pipes and wires

  • check and replace moving parts and safety parts, particularly on the underside, that will have become encrusted with road salt or mud during service and subject to hidden corrosion thanks to acidity or alkalinity - no one power washes all the dirt off the brake lines before they park their car up for 12 years

Parts of cars that are regularly driven get warm and the residual heat can combat a lot of the environmental effects, meaning that regularly used cars last longer in practice than those left to fester. In realistic terms anyone who knows their salt will understand they're potentially buying a huge can of worms - a car parked up because it has a broken driveshaft and left for 10 years will need more than just a new driveshaft and it should be priced accordingly; I'd be looking to bid scrap value because if it did turn out to be a write off I could maybe recover my outlay by selling usable parts

If you want a real life appraisal of worth put one on eBay with a very high reserve (so you don't have to part with it come auction end) and honestly List every fault and circumstance relevant to the car. Maybe don't set a reserve actually, just sell one and note the difference between what you think it's worth and what the market actually pays - it will likely be quite a stark difference

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  • IMO if you can find a scrap car dealer who will take them away and handle with the paperwork for scrapping them for free, you probably got a good deal. Realistically you are looking a minimum of hundreds of dollars per car to get them running, and a lot more if you find any problems. Nobody who wants to buy a car to use it is going to take that sort of risk. – alephzero Feb 1 at 13:20
  • Thank you so kindly for all the answers, everyone! I think my next step is to talk to our mechanic friend to let him know that he’s not helping the situation by saying the cars can be fixed. I know he’d help me be more convincing once he knows my opinion on the matter – Christy Feb 1 at 15:11
  • He could certainly be a help; get him round and ask him how much he'll buy the first car for. Then how much will he give for it if it were in running and resale-able condition. Finally, how much to fix it... Do the math and see whether it's worth paying him to fix them before you sell them, if "fixing it so we can get more money for it" is the only thing holding up the sale – Caius Jard Feb 1 at 19:38
  • Dont forget the rusty fuel system, they corrode like crazy after setting 12 years, new gas tank, fuel pump, carb rebuild or new injectors, etc. – Moab Feb 2 at 1:29
  • I'll take the point about the gas tank, maybe fuel pump and carb.. Carbs tend to be a nightmare if they aren't drained before storage. Not sure I've ever had a problem with long parked fuel injected cars from an injector viewpoint, gas or diesel.. – Caius Jard Feb 2 at 11:14

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