30 Sep How to Save Money on Car Repair

Ok, so we all know that friend who always has a “guy” for everything. When it comes to car repair, you need a guy. Sorry for all the mechanics out there who work at garages, but you guys get a bad name for a reason. If we were to look at markups in the automotive repair industry you would be astounded. Not to the mention the labor rates, which are based on a book. Seems fair right? If your garage uses the standard labor rates, that’s just what it costs to get it fixed. Not so fast, Let me tell you a recent story about car repair that made me want to write this article.

I recently sold a 1994 Chrysler New Yorker that was left to me, and purchased a 1998 Acura TL to use as my work car.



You might think this was a slight upgrade, but I was a little hasty in the purchase and it turns out the car has more issues than I thought. Luckily I didn’t pay much for it and I did have a mechanic check it out prior so I don’t think there are any major problems. Anyway, I noticed the speedometer working intermittently, and it eventually stopped working altogether. So naturally I did what all car owners should do in this situation, I Googled it. I found that the cause was probably a faulty VSS (vehicle speed sensor) and it was a common problems among Hondas and Acuras from this generation. I was also able to find schematics and drawings of just where it was in the engine and how to replace it. So I decided I was going to fix this myself and save tons of money. Here is where it gets interesting. Obviously by doing it myself I am saving $100-$200 or so. Maybe less from a reputable guy, because this particular job is extremely easy (as I soon found out). I am by no means a mechanic but I can follow directions pretty well. My cost was going to consist of the part and my time. So I check good ole O’reileys and here is what I found.

oreileys$187!!?? For that little thing? I always heard sensors were expensive but come on now. It is like the size of a golf ball. So then I decide I am not paying that and I go on eBay. Here is what I find:



Am I reading that right?? $7.50!! 96% off! You might be thinking, that somehow this part won’t work. Well the seller had 99% positive feedback on over 700 transactions, so no worry there. I got the part a few days later and it took me all but 15 minutes to install (most of that spent jacking the car up). I start the car and start driving and Boom! Odometer and speedometer work. Now lets break this down had I taken it to a mechanic:

Labor@$60 hour-1.5 hr $90. Somehow this 15 minute job would have been 1.5 hours according to the book. Just guessing here.

Part $200- Maybe more, garages usually make even more off the part.

Total $290, plus my time waiting for it to get fixed.

Instead I spent $7.50 and 15 minutes of my time, and while I had it jacked up I went ahead and changed the oil since it was right there. Then because I realized it was so easy to change oil I changed my trucks oil too! Now instead of paying to have the oil changed I will do that myself and save money on that too.

Moral of this story- don’t underestimate yourself and don’t be intimidated by the garages to spend too much. Now had I read about this job and it was extremely complex I would not have done it myself. If you think it is beyond your ability have someone who knows what they’re doing it do it. This leads me to my next point:

Find a Guy! (by guy I mean person, man or woman, not trying to be sexist here)

Everyone needs people that can get stuff done for you much cheaper than the big companies. I don’t know about you but I just can’t fork over $90 just to have a plumber grace my presence, let alone do the job. That is why I have a plumber guy, Jose, who does stuff so cheap I pay him more than he asks because hes also a good dude. Car repair is no different. Finding the guy can be tricky but once you find someone you will probably have them for years. I search craigslist for “mobile mechanic” and then ask how much something (just make it up) would cost to fix and go from there. If you are hesitant about craigslist guys (I don’t blame you) ask for references or just ask on a social network. The point is find someone who will come to you and work on your car to remove the hassle and cut the cost way down (no overhead). These guys usually worked for garages in the past but realized they can charge half the rate garages do and make more money than what they were getting paid. A lot of them do it on the side as well.

Next time something is wrong with your car, call your car guy (the one you are going to research and find right now). My guy charges $30 to look over the car and check and see if anything is wrong, this usually is good towards a repair if he ends up doing any work on it. If you live in Wichita let me know and I can give you his contact information.


 Message to Claire:

You recently turned 3 and started preschool. I know what everyone says will be true, and before I know it you will be a teenager. I hate thinking about that for multiple reasons; 1)I may go to jail on an assault charge when some punk tries to take you out on a date, and 2) I am worried I will miss too much of your childhood. Good news is that with technology I will have many pictures and videos that our parents don’t have of us. The digital age has made it much easier to document ones life. That being said you need to learn from a young age the dangers of the digital age. This is really a soapbox for all young people, including people my age who still do stupid things. Once something goes on the internet, it’s there forever. You can’t really take it back. So be careful what you say, post, send, click on, etc. Be smart. Now for you and your siblings we are going to do our best to keep it away when we can, through parental locks and such, but I know you will still “stumble” on to something now and again. Listen to this carefully, don’t send/post/receive any pictures/messages you wouldn’t want your parents to see. Because there is a possibility it could get back to us. That’s an old adage but it will always hold true, if you have good parents and you don’t do things you wouldn’t want them to know about, you will probably turn out just fine. 

Hopefully you are ok with this picture and all the others being out there. Besides, your mom already posted it to Facebook.

claire and gabe