Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Best Way to Save On Major Car Repairs

Happy Love Day everyone.  I am soooo in love with saving money any way I can, especially on a day that traditionally breaks every man's budget like Valentine's does.  I can't stand this holiday.  It's incredibly commercialized.  Last year around this time I wrote a funny piece: 6 Inexpensive Latino Lover Valentine's Ideas for Men.  My wife, Jessica, is the opposite.  She gets into the Valentine's spirit like a believer at a Black church Sunday service.  To avoid sleeping on the couch, I've bought her a card, a lovely orchid (she prefers them over roses), and we got plans for a fancy dinner tonight, followed by a movie.

I'm in a great mood for that, considering I just saved $200 on a much needed car repair.  I bought my 2007 Honda Civic Ex new.  It has over 112K miles on it.  I've not had anything major replaced, fending off the advances of many a mechanic wanting a piece of my car at every oil change.  " need new struts and shocks...your rotors need's time for...blah, blah, blah..."  We all know how costly car repairs for major parts can be.  Just check out the quote I got from Midas for two new front rotors, parts and labor:

$237 for parts (the two rotors) and $130 for labor.

Skip that, right?  I've already had the rotors shaved/resurfaced so I couldn't use that trick again.  I could visibly see the burn on the rotors and the noise when braking (it's not the pads) worried my wife who sometimes drives my vehicle.  After getting two to three quotes for the job, most people resign themselves to having the job done at the lowest bid.  

I'm here to tell you that there is another way!  And it could save you up to 50% or more on any indispensable car repair.  A mechanic friend told me this is the best way to go.

It starts at eBay.  That's right...eBay.  You search for what you need.  In my case, I searched for "2007 Honda Civic Ex front rotors."  Bang, I got a hit.  A company out of Canada: Tutu Auto sold exactly what I was looking for.  I did my research online on the company and found no negative reviews so I pulled the trigger using the, Buy It Now, feature.  I bought two, drilled brake rotors with free ceramic pads for only $67!

Jan 28, 2016

US $66.42
Free shipping
Order C0130 FIT 2006 2007 2008 Honda Civic DX LX EX Cross Drilled Brake Rotors Pads F
1 item sold by tutuauto
C0130 FIT 2006 2007 2008 Honda Civic DX LX EX Cross Drilled Brake Rotors Pads F
Estimated delivery Thu, Feb 04 - Fri, Feb 19
US $66.42

 As you can see, it also came with a 1 year warranty.  If I had bought these from Midas or the nearest Honda dealership, I'd have spent an arm and a leg.  If you have a car that has over 100K miles, I recommend you buy your parts online.  Prioritize your repairs.  For example, I also need new tires, and shocks for my rear wheels.  Up next for me are the tires.  Safety first.  I was thinking of finding a used tire shop, but after hearing many friends out, used tires are never a good idea.  You have no way of knowing how long the tires have been sitting on the shelf.  They could have thinned out by atmospheric ozone, rotted on the inside, and though they may look alright, they could be on the verge of blowing out.  Unfortunately, shopping around for new tires is the best advice I can give you.

After saving on my rotors, I looked to save on labor costs.  I've made many friends at shops, waiting for an oil change.  Shooting the breeze with a mechanic on break is how you find your go to guy.  Some will be friendly.  Others will want to smoke their cigarette and be left alone.  Find the young mechanic who has bills to pay.  That's what I did.  My mechanic "buddy" does side jobs to make ends meet every month.  I told him Midas quoted me $130 for labor and asked him if he'd be willing to do the job for $100.  Of course he was willing!  Just be sure you get a guarantee on the work.  Tell the mechanic that you will bring more jobs to him if the job is done right.

So in all I spent $167 on a job that would've cost me $367.  I drove the car earlier today after the job was done.  The braking was freakin' awesome.  The ceramic brakes really stepped up the feel of stopping.  They are smooth and the best part is that there is no more of that cruddy brake dust coming out!

When I get paid next month, I'll be buying two front tires.  Not much savings here.  However, in April, I'll be buying two rear shocks online and having my mechanic pal put them on for a lot less than the labor rate at a shop.   Let's summarize:

1.  Find a young mechanic employed at a reliable shop.  Do small talk and ask about their economic situation.  Young people don't mind telling you they are broke these day.  Ask them if they would be up for doing side jobs.  If so, get their phone number.

2.  Shop online for the parts you need.  Make sure they are exactly what you are looking for, i.e., they fit your car.  Most online vendors have you submit info before allowing you to buy.  eBay is a great marketplace for new parts.  Getting parts from a dealership will be expensive, and let's face it, if your car has over 100K miles on it, does it really matter at this point that the parts are made by another manufacturer?  Euro cars this post is not for you.

I leave you with this picture of my newly installed rotors and brake pads:

Don't give in to the shop's sense of urgency.  You have time to look for what you need.  In fact, even if you don't have a mechanic friend, buying the parts and bringing them in to the shop will still be more cost effective then having the shop order the parts for you.  They don't care about your wallet!

Until next time.  Thanks for reading.

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