We’ve owned our car outright for a little over a year now and it feels great. Most of the time, I only think about it when I’m transferring our money around and remember that I used to have to put part of it toward the car. But there’ve been a couple times this year when the car itself has made me glad that we don’t have a payment.
When you have a car payment, then you have to pay for the car + interest every month and cover repairs. When you own the car, all you have to pay for is repairs.
This Winter/Spring we’ve had more car repairs than normal, though only one of them was an actual car problem. One was actually just routine maintenance (brake stuff) and two were pothole damage.
Normally we don’t drive into potholes, but this Winter we had two huge snowstorms (one in December and the big big one in February) and after both of them, the city was full of potholes. At night on a poorly-lit street, a pothole full of water looks about the same as blacktop. And we bent two tire rims. The potholes were that deep!
The second time I was pretty upset at it happening over again, but both times we were able to pay for it because 1) we put money aside for this kind of thing & 2) we can more easily put the money aside because we don’t have a car payment.
Our Big Breakdown Adventure
Then our car gave us the first BIG trouble in a rather dramatic meltdown on the way to Boston. We were on a major Connecticut highway, minding our own business when suddenly the engine just plum turned off. It didn’t turn off in a sudden transmission-shearing-stop way, but the accelerator no longer responded and the power braking started to go (it seems to last for a little while after power goes, which is a good thing).
Micah glided the car into the shoulder and I tried not to panic as we sat there on a sharp curve in a shoulder that was thinner than our car. A high curb kept us from pulling over into the grass. Actually, we didn’t sit in the car—we got out on the grass and as far away from it as we could. I was terrified that an inattentive driver would total it, but within a minute of us pulling over (we’d just made it out & up by the sheer rock face) a highway safety vehicle pulled in behind us and sat there with its bulk and flashing lights.
The guy was great & got us started again so we could go to the next exit. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it that far but he stayed behind us and helped us call a tow truck. The second place we got stuck was much nicer & had a really wide shoulder (see the picture above). I didn’t mind waiting there with my laptop & enjoying the weather.
It turned out the crank sensor was the problem (it periodically forgot the car had been cranked up) and we were able to get it replaced. There was a lot more drama involving getting to the conference Micah was going to & getting a ride from grandparents who fortunately lived close(ish) and were feeling more charitable than I’d anticipated. I never actually made it to Boston and Micah missed part of the conference.
What there wasn’t was drama about how much it’d cost. The whole thing came to about $300 including the tow and we got three sensors replaced (Nissan only sells them in packs of three related sensors…it made more sense to have him put all three on than to keep two and probably pay more for labor getting the other two replaced).
I am so glad that our car is paid off and that she lived to fight another day. I’m also grateful that she doesn’t usually give us trouble. If we can stay out of potholes, maybe we’ll have another year with just routine maintenance!
Earlier this month J$ at Budgets Are Sexy shared his own relief at not having a car payment. Are you trying to pay down a car faster? Is yours paid off? Has it made a big difference for you, or not?