The first vehicle we paid off was the truck. We bought it in 2001 and paid it off early, so it didn't have the impact that paying off my wife's car had. I had a feeling we were getting close and my wife and I thought we might try and pay it off early. It turned out we were about ten bucks more than a normal payment away. It was a pleasant surprise, but we knew we were getting close so it wasn't exactly a shock. There is something reassuring about driving and working on something that is all yours. Everything you do is an investment of sorts. If, for some reason, you decide to trade it in towards a new car, then all the value in the car is yours. No loans to worry about paying off.
Of course, we tend to keep our cars. I'm no longer the type of person to by a functional but soulless econo-shitbox whose claims of great mileage are intended to cover the fact that it sucks to drive. What we buy are things that we like and intend to keep. We still have the wife's car and the truck, and we intend to drive them until they just won't go anymore, or rather, until I can't keep them running anymore. We take care of our cars, so that date is hopefully a long ways off.
If you've bought a new car anytime in the last few years, you've probably gotten junk mail telling you that your warranty was likely up and you could buy an extended warranty. We've gotten these things for years, including things for cars we haven't owned for a long time. It was normal for me to spend a few minutes ripping up the week's extended warranty mailings on a Friday and throwing them out. But for some reason, when I started getting them last month, it worried me. I have gotten them for my Mustang before, but this time one of the mailings was from Ford and not a random “extended warranty department.” They quoted the exact mileage my car had when I took it to the dealer for new tires. It seemed more legitimate than the previous mailings, but I was fairly sure that I had a year left before the car was paid off and I was certain that we had made sure the warranty ran the length of the car loan. That was one of the requirements when buying it and we had made sure the paperwork stated that and that the time frames for the warranty and the loan matched.
Nothing irritates me more than making payments on something that isn't covered by a warranty. That happened on my wife's car and it was an irritating two years. With the seemingly legitimate mailing from Ford, I got worried, and the only thing to do was to double check the paperwork, but I couldn't find the paperwork. My wife had “put it away,” meaning it was in a box somewhere in the basement, but since there was nothing that needed to be fixed I figured I didn't need to worry about it right then.
Then, last week, I was going through the mail when I saw an envelope with “Vehicle Services Department” stamped on it in red letters. It was a bit thick but it looked a lot like one of those extended warranty junk mail letters, so just I set it on the trash pile and continued looking through the mail. After some more trash and a magazine, I came to an envelope from Wells Fargo with a check in it for “Overpayment Refund.” That was it, no explanation. I had finished working for the day but my brain still had a bit of fuel left, and after a slow start I was thinking. Overpayment. Why wouldn't they have just credited it to the next month? And how could it even be an overpayment since we had the car payment set up to go automatically the same time every month? Then I thought about that “Vehicle Services Department” letter. It was a bit thick and I thought I caught Wells Fargo somewhere on the envelope. I opened that to find a letter informing me I had paid off the note, and it had the title stapled to the back of the letter.
I suppressed the excitement. I was positive we had another year before it was paid off. Perhaps there was a mistake. I decided to call and make sure that the loan was indeed paid off before I began to celebrate.
It only took three people before I got to somebody that could answer my question. I'm not sure why the first two couldn't help me—after all, I gave them all the information—but the last person, a nice sounding woman, told me that I had indeed paid off the loan and that the title and letter were the confirmation. Once it was all verified, and the now unnecessary car payment deleted, it was time to celebrate. I cracked open an obnoxiously overpriced beer and reveled in the freedom.
|My baby is all mine now!|
Of course, it isn't all fun and games. Paying off the car meant that the warranty was indeed expired, and any future mechanical issues were all my responsibility. But it also meant I was free to add a few performance enhancing modifications I was holding off on because I didn't want to void the warranty. There is a camshaft and a tuner I've been waiting a few years to buy, and now is the time!
Now, since I received the title to my car, I view my driveway with extra pride. Five cars, all mine. Well, mine and the wife's, but that's true for all “my” stuff.