The average middle-class person has three big debts in their life. Their house, their car and a credit card or two. The house is always difficult to get out from under, and carrying credit card debt of more than a couple of hundred dollars or pounds is just idiotic. But a car loan is one of those financial drains tied to a luxury item, and cars are a luxury item. In the world that a lot of my readers live in, I wouldn't be surprised if the household had two cars, but there are obviously places in the world - here at home too - where people just can't afford a car. So it's a luxury item, and taking out a loan on one is something you should only do if you have a chance of paying it off. Two years ago I picked up a new car and took out a car loan on about 50% of the value of it (my trade-in paid for the other half). For two years I've been putting most of my spare money into the loan as additional principal payments, and a few weeks ago I achieved motoring nirvana - a lien release from the credit company, giving me a clean title. ie. I paid off the loan and now I own my car. I can't tell you what a weight that is to be lifted off my shoulders, especially as I'm staring down the barrel of unemployment (a long and torrid story of a company so full of managers and process that we've forgotten how to actually produce anything). I try not to carry much debt on my credit card (singular) but I still have a mortgage. Not having a car payment every month is really nice though. But here's my problem. I'm a car guy and shiny new Precious's always catch my eye. If I'm still employed by this time next year, I just know I'm going to be in the market for a car change, which inevitably will mean a new loan.
So if you're in the percentage of the world's population that owns a car, and you have a loan on it, do everything you can to get out from under that loan. It's a lovely feeling.