2 Ways to Save Money on Car Repairs.  What are they?  In a nutshell, the reasons boil down to 1. Parts and 2. Labor.  Simply put, you should buy your own parts, and whenever possible, do your own labor.  This can save you hundreds on each job, and thousands per year!  Here’s why:

1.  Parts.  Auto repair shops charge you much more for parts than it would cost you if you bought the same parts yourself.  We are talking big money here, usually at least 3 times the amount of the retail cost, and sometimes even 4 or 5 times the amount!  Why?  Because they can, and so they do.  They are counting on the average consumer not really knowing what they should pay for a particular part. 

In this example, we will just deal with “aftermarket” parts prices, which means what it would cost you if you were to purchase a part from an auto supply store.  Here we will talk about replacement clutch cylinders for a Honda Civic. 

Clutch Master and Slave Cylinders for a 1996 Honda Civic

Online price:  $123.00

Auto Zone (auto supply store) price: $37.00

Parts price quoted by a Seattle-area independently owned auto mechanic shop:  $223.00

So the mechanic is charging almost double the amount that you could get the part for online, and nearly five times the amount you would pay at an auto supply store!  Get the picture?

2.  Labor.  Here at See Jane Drill, we advocate for everyone to do their own repairs, both for their homes and on their cars.  We are a DIY education site, after all.  But there are certainly some cases where you will need to take your car to a mechanic, and for these times, we think it is a good idea to at least know and understand what you are being charged for. 

There exists what is called a “book rate” that mechanics use to price each job.  Most common jobs are listed in this book, along with the time that it should take to do the job.  For instance, the clutch job on the Honda Civic is listed at 2.3 hours in this book.  Here in Seattle, most large shops charge an average of $100 per hour, and smaller, independent shops charge an average of $89 per hour for labor. So let’s say that you were to take your car to a larger shop for the clutch job.  The cost would be $230 for labor.  But here’s the thing.  In many cases, shops can finish the job more quickly than what is listed in the book rate, however, they will still charge you for the amount of time in the book rate. 

For these reasons, you are usually paying a premium to bring your car to a shop for repairs.  Of course you still can and should bring your car in for complicated jobs or jobs that you just don’t feel comfortable doing yourself.  But there may be instances where you need more minor or routine work done on your car, such as tune-ups, oil changes, air filter changes, and brake and rotor replacements, where you might just consider doing the job yourself, purchase your own parts, and save a lot of money!  Fortunately, we are here to help you.  Just go to the Automotive section of the See Jane Drill website, where you will find a wide range of how-to videos and manuals.  You can do this!

by See Jane Drill, Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved