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Monday, December 05, 2005

Money Saving Tip: Buy Parts Yourself and have Mechanic Install Them

About 1 month ago (ironically just after I finished paying my car loan off), I started having trouble starting my Nissan Sentra. I am not even close to being a mechanic; about the limit of my car knowledge is that I can change my oil.

Despite my lack of knowledge I really didn't want to spend a bunch of money fixing my car up just after I finally finished paying for it. I talked to as many people as I could find that knew something about cars and did lots of googling trying to find details of anyone having similar problems. Most of the signs pointed to the starter on my car.

I then called the dealer and got an estimate of $380 to change out my starter. Someone recommended I also call a local tire shop (who did full service) and they gave me an estimate of $303.76. Better, but I checked with Advance Auto Parts (auto parts store) and knew I could get a remanufactured starter for $88.21 (after tax).

I called the local tire shop back and asked them to break down the estimate for me. Once they told me it would cost $251.26 for the starter I told them I could get a starter for almost 1/3 the price. I pressed them on what the 3x price increase gets me and they explained the difference was they warranty the part and labor.

After more investigation I found out that the part I could get from Advance Auto Parts was also covered by a lifetime warranty. I was really just paying an extra $163.05 for labor if the part fails again and needs to be changed out. Since the labor to change out the starter was only $52.50, the part could fail and be replaced 3 times before I see any payback on the extra cost. Not a good payback on my investment.

 

Parts

Labor

Total

Dealer

 

 

$380.00

Tire Shop

$251.26

$52.50

$303.76

Advance Auto Parts & Tire Shop

$88.21

$52.50

$140.71



So I called up the tire shop and they agreed to let me bring in my own part. Everything worked out great. I am very happy with the service I got and I saved over 50% off my repair bill estimates.

Bottom Line: Consider all the options. If you can find a good mechanic who will let you supply the parts, you could easily save 50% off the repair bill.

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