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To Share or Not To Share?

Since buying a car, then paying for insurance, gas, and parking can be so expensive, car-shares with friends may seem like an attractive option.  Before you go this route, consider the implications carefully.

Who is the official owner of the car you will share?  This is an important question as the owner is responsible for anything that goes wrong with the car.  Also, if the owner suddenly decides to sell the car, does he or she need to tell the sharers?  If so, how much notice should be given?

Be careful about responsibility for parking fees and moving violations.  If one of the car sharers skips town and you own the car, you could be stuck owing a lot of money.  This is especially tricky in the case of moving violations and accidents, which have a long-term effect in that they raise insurance premiums.

How will you schedule your car?  Does anyone sharing the car commute regularly?  What about holidays?  Scheduling use of the car could be successful if one of the sharers plans to use the car for travel on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the other car user (or users) commute on business days but stay home when they’re off from work.

Do the car sharers have similar standards of cleanliness?  You may need to establish these before beginnng a car share.  The last thing you want is to get into a car with spilled milkshake over the seats.

Also, be extremely clear about who is responsible, and specifically what steps will be taken, should the car sustain any damage while being driven by one of the sharers.  Arguments over money and who was at fault for an accident have ruined many friendships!

Because of all these headaches and potential pitfalls, people who have shared cars with friends in the past have recommended drawing up a written agreement specifically detailing the responsibilities of each sharer, as well as contingiencies in the case of anything going wrong.

If you have a good relationship with the owners or sharers of the car, and enjoy great communication plus similar styles and goals, car sharing with friends can represent a significant savings of money and hassle.  The key to success:  you must be incredibly careful and clear before entering into the agreement.  Happy sharing!

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