Piston Slap: Free Credit Report, No Strings Attached

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

Larry writes:

Hi, do things fall off credit report after so many years?

Due to your knowledge I was hoping you may be able to shed some light on the subject. Would you consider giving me a couple pointers?

Sajeev replies:

This website prides itself on keeping the manufacturers honest on their business practices, so why not turn the spotlight on our personal finances? That said, my credit is quite good: I “credit” (get it?) my parents for warning me at an early age.

But I helped a friend with less-than-stellar credit buy a new car. Thanks to a shockingly professional sales/finance team at a local dealership, we saw her credit report and got a good dose of common sense, free of charge. The short answer? The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the big credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) to remove boo-boos from your record after seven years.

My pointers? First, get a copy of your credit reports, avoiding the websites that charge you for their idiotic TV ads about some loser in a pirate hat, driving a Geo Metro. This information is available FREE to you, no strings attached thanks to our government in action.

With those reports, you’ll know your credit blemishes and can do something about it. See which blemishes are flat-out errors: engage the other parties, offer up proof, do whatever it takes. After that, it’s time to fix your mistakes: do the Earl Hickey thing and do right by karma. Pay the piper!

Unpaid bills and the associated bad karma? Call them up, negotiate a fair price to make things right and watch your credit score shoot through the roof. Always grab the lowest hanging fruit first: nobody cares about your long-term college loans—that unpaid trip to the VD clinic, errant cell phone bill and multiple credit card balances are the real killers.

And finally, don’t make the same mistake again. Ever: cars get faster, cooler and smarter every year. And you should be in the driver’s seat, if you so choose. So spend your money wisely, otherwise you’re in for even more trouble in the future.

But feel free to live debt free(ish) and drive a crap can car, just like many of your fellow Piston Slappers. We do aah-ite!

(Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com)

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Grg I am not sure that this would hold up in snow country. It used to be that people in snow country would not be caught dead in a white car. Now that white cars have become popular in the north, I can't tell you how many times I have seen white cars driving in the snow without lights. Almost all cars are less visible in a snow storm, or for that matter, rain storm, without lights. White ones become nearly invisible.
  • Douglas I have a 2018 BMW 740e PHEV, and love it. It has a modest electric only range compared to newer PHEV's (about 18 miles), but that gets me to the office and back each day. It has a small gas tank to make room for the battery, so only holds about 11 gallons. I easily go 600 or more miles per tank. I love it, and being able to take long road trips without having to plug in (it just operates like a regular Hybrid if you never plug it in). It charges in 75 minutes in my garage from a Level 2 charger I bought on Amazon for $350. Had an electrician add a dryer outlet beside the breaker box. It's the best of both worlds and I would definitely want a PHEV for my next car. 104,000 miles and ZERO problems with the powertrain components (so far).
  • Panther Platform I had a 98 Lincoln Mark VIII so I have a soft spot for this. The Mark VIII styling was not appreciated by all.
  • Grant P Farrell Oh no the dealership kept the car for hours on two occasions before giving me a loaner for two months while they supposedly replaced the ECU. I hate cords so I've only connected it wirelessly. Next I'm gonna try using the usb-c in the center console and leaving the phone plugged in in there, not as convenient but it might lower my blood pressure.
  • Jeff Tiny electrical parts are ruining today's cars! What can they ...