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How to store a car in France

As I mentioned previously, I would like to keep mom's car so that I can drive it when I (eventually) pass a driving test.
Logically, just put it towards the back of the hangar and leave it there. Run the engine once in a while, job done, right?

This is France.
Nothing is ever that simple.

Turns out, it is obligatory to insure a car. Even a car sitting unused. Because children might hurt themselves on it, somebody might back into it, it might explode...
Never mind the fact that cars do not habitually blow up (this one didn't even during the roasting hot summer). Never mind the fact that children and others in a position to injure themselves are quite obviously trespassing on private property. No. It's a car, it must be insured. The end. (Article L211-1 of the Code des assurances).

Which leads to the second problem. I cannot insure the car. Why? Because I don't have a driving licence. Even a car that is going to be stored and not driven. There is, apparently, no "storage" insurance. There's only a dirt cheap minimal third-party style insurance. Which needs a driving licence, because it counts the car as a car regardless of whether or not it will be used on a public road.
[note: as of 2017, a person who is the registered owner of a car must have a driving licence suitable for the type of car that it is (décret 2017-1278); I am the owner of the car, but that was arranged about eight years ago...]

So today's task was to use a legal hack - to make the car unsuitable for placing on the road. Make it no longer count as a car so it doesn't need insurance. The process is simple. Raise the wheels off the ground, disconnect the battery, take out the fuel. Then it is no longer a car.

My first task was to start the car to back it up, but the motor wouldn't turn over. Great.
The starter engages, then everything just dies.
The worst case (and not terribly likely) scenario is that the engine has seized. Next, the starter has seized. But there is no oil under the car or any specific indication of a mechanical mishap. What is much more likely is that nearly four months of non-use has drained the battery to the point where it doesn't have enough power to turn the engine. Remember, there's radio central locking and whatever taking little amounts of power. Little over a long period is a lot. If I'd been thinking better when mom was on the way out, I'd have disconnected the battery then. But, alas, I did not.
First task, then, disconnect the battery. That was easy:

Next job, take out the petrol. This was supposed to be easy. Remove the back seat. pull the metal cover off the fuel pump space, then since I didn't feel like mucking around with pressurised fuel lines, simply unscrew the entire unit and lift it out to gain access to the fuel tank. Then simply suck it out with a squeezy-bulb siphon thing like you can use for filling paraffin heaters. That was the plan. In reality, it was impossible to get the thing unscrewed without risking breaking the thing, or worse, the pump.

So I have had to abandon that for a while so I can have a think about what to do next. I can't shove in a piece of hose and siphon it as there is some mechanism that messes up siphons. Maybe I could shove in a hose and pump it out? I don't know right now.

Finally, I jacked up the car, corner by corner. I stuck some breezeblocks under it, and then some bits of wood as one breezeblock was too low and two too high for the jack, and then I lowered it gently down.
And I repeated this about eight times because the bloody thing kept on shifting. I don't know how it would be possible to jack up a car onto those little metal tripod things. Do people use bigger jacks than the one for changing tyres, or do two use two and do the car side by side instead of corner by corner?
Well, it's up now...

Between you and me, I feel that the car is more of a danger in that state than when it's just sitting with the handbrake on. But whatever...

So now it looks like a car, feels like a car, but no longer counts as a car. I guess it's a really unconvincing birdhouse now. But, at least, as mind-numbingly stupid as this palavar is, I don't need to insure it now.

How this all came about is that last Tuesday, I received in the post a demand from mom's insurer wanting to be paid €121-something for the months of October and November. This is despite me sending a letter announcing my mother's death and requesting the insurance policy be cancelled.
I, obviously, have no intention of paying this. Originally I figured it was a combination of "you were notified" and "the contract isn't with me", but thanks to all the nonsense with the car, it turns out that they simply cannot provide insurance for somebody who doesn't have a licence. So the insurance must terminate on the day of mom's death whether they like it or not. The law is an ass, but it inconveniences in both directions. ☺
Of course, that won't stop them trying a scam like "send us a hundred for the difficulty of pressing the Delete key". You might get the idea that I think insurers in general are legalised thieves. I know I'm not alone in thinking that.


And as for my car...

As for my car, the one I can drive. Well, at long last I have three thousand sitting in my bank account. The guy selling the car will be sending me the bank details for doing a transfer. Unfortunately he... isn't young. So he probably doesn't know that the company's bank ought to be able to issue a PDF that can be emailed. Hell, I can do that much! He is sending the bank details by post. So it will arrive... sometime. Monday is a public holiday (11th November). Then it's a wait for the Carte Gris (registration documents), and finally the €73,73 a month insurance. It's a lot, a hell of a lot (for third party fire and theft) but as I said before, I have never driven before.
Still, the money is there. Plans are in place. Things are moving. Finally.

I have chosen to go with Euro Assistance for insuring the car. I don't really want to because they phone me like every three days for updates which is starting to get aggravating - especially when it's everybody else taking their merry time. However the local Allianz place quoted me nearly eighty euros a month, and the friend of the car seller quoted me 71, but it was a simple web page with very little information and a "Accept this" link. Sorry, I'm the kind of annoying ass-hat that wants to read the small print. So the middle quote with enough detail to know what I'm paying for is Euro Assistance.


Property value

Somebody came to value the house today. How much I will pay in inheritance tax depends upon the value of the house. They valued the house at €50,000. There was a time it could have fetched nearly a quarter mil, but there was a time when the English were flocking over here in droves. I must remember, that's also French prices which are completely different to the British prices, and more realistic than the prices displayed in an estate agent's window.
Doesn't matter, I'm not planning on upping sticks and moving.
Well, if somebody wants to offer me €150,000 I will. Until then, and I won't hold my breath, I'll stay here in this pleasant peaceful place.



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petrol_huffer, 10th November 2019, 12:50
The easiest way to get the fuel out is to charge the battery and disconnect the return line from the fuel rail (this returns excess fuel to the tank after the pressure regulated fuel is sent to the injectors). Then turn the engine over and fuel will be pumped out of your now disconnected return until the tank is empty.
David Pilling, 10th November 2019, 13:43
UK there is SORN - statutory off road notice instead of licence for off road cars. But no immobilisation needed. All those people with Cortinas on bricks in their front garden knew something then. 
Would not taking out the rotor arm do. Modern cars have imobilisers as part of anti-theft mechanism. Guess if you left petrol cap off there would soon be no fuel left. 
House prices are crazy. UK average is probably €250,000, and for €50,000 you would if really lucky be living in horrible conditions. 
Perhaps the Cortina people didn't know how to get the car off the bricks. 

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