Boxy but Safe

The mail carrier (that’s the term we use now, right?) showed up at my door the other day with a certified letter. I couldn’t make out the contents while signing for it, but I did notice that the return address was Texas and that the envelope had the words: Auto, Title and Legal Notice stamped in red ink on the front.

The purpose of the note, as it turns out, was to inform me that someone had dropped a Volvo convertible that I used to own off at a repair shop in Houston, Texas and–oops!–they forgot to return for it. The certified letter went on to say (keep in mind that I haven’t owned this car since May 2009) that the car had a mechanic’s lien attached to it and would be auctioned if I didn’t pay the almost $3,000 that was owed for replacing the transmission.


I immediately placed a call to the service station. The woman who answered the phone told me that the mechanic wasn’t there and that he didn’t have voice mail, so I would have to call back. I don’t like having stuff hanging over my head, so I dialed the dealership that I purchased my current car from. I had traded the Volvo in as part of that transaction and was hoping I could put this off on them–and go back to enjoying my life.

Not exactly…

Josh, (the manager who had the good fortune to answer my call), did some digging and sure enough when he plugged in the VIN for that particular Volvo, my name and address showed up as the last registered owner. This meant that whoever bought the car from the auction house (the one that Josh’s dealership sold it to) never bothered registering it.

Josh told me that in all likelihood the Volvo was taken across state lines and operated *gasp!* illegally. And then, to add injury to insult, the jerk blew out the car’s transmission and abandoned it.

Who does that?

I feel bad for the Volvo. She (yes, it was a she) was a good car. And though her top malfunctioned a few times and her acceleration left a lot to be desired, she was the primary mode of transportation for me (and my kids) for almost eight years. And she served us well. I should add that I also feel sorry for the mechanic, who in what I am sure was an act of good faith, repaired my old girl. He deserves compensation.

My husband and son suggested we go to Texas and stage a rescue operation. We were after all still listed as the last registered owners, couldn’t we just pay the ransom bill and buy the Volvo’s freedom? I quickly shot that idea down (though, to their credit, a customer service agent from California’s DMV made the same suggestion a few days later).

The moral to this story (it’s my story and I want a moral, so bear with me) is that some people do bad things. Also, and this is kind of important, when you sell (or trade-in) a vehicle make sure you fill out a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability form. The first DMV rep I spoke with said I had not done this for the Volvo and could be held responsible for all tickets, liens, children birthed out-of-wedlock, etc.. The second rep, (he’s the one I like), said that I had in fact filled out the form and it was on file.

So my question for you: How connected are you to your car? Connected to the point that you assign it a name and gender? And kind of miss it once it’s gone?

This, by the way, is not the type of connection I am talking about…so don’t even go there.



2 responses

  1. What an awful mess! Thank you for the advice. I hope I filled out the right paperwork on my last car when I traded it in. I do name my cars: last one was Dale (as in Evans) and my current one is Roxie. I saw that episode of “MyStrange Addiction” and was beyond words.

    • You probably did, Melissa. I think (hope) that it is part of the standard pile of paperwork dealerships have you sign when you buy a car. My guess is that people who sell cars independently have a greater chance of not having done it. Dale is a very nice name, and Roxie sounds like she has some spunk to her. ; )

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