Well, I’ve been having a great road trip these last couple days. I’ve driven my car into Georgia and now I’m in Alabama enjoying the laid back atmosphere. It’s good for me to interject that I would never have gotten here had I not replaced my catalytic converter and battery. Can you believe that I got it all done for $360? I’ll tell you the story and you’ll learn some good tips on how to save money on car repairs.
Three months ago I went in to my local Pep Boys to get an oil change and complained about a rattling sound under my car. While I was waiting for the work to get done I pulled out my computer and found an oil change coupon online for $19.99. Just so you know, they accepted it so I didn’t have to pay the normal $30. (That’s what I do for all expensive services) Anyway, they said that my catalytic converter needed to be changed but Pep Boys charges $100 per hour for labor. No way I say! I refuse to pay that for a 2 hour fix it job. The total with parts included would have sent me into the $600 zone.
Three months later (last week) I mosied on over to a local operation that has done some amazing work for me before. They quoted me a price of $300 (parts, labor and tax included). I agreed and they did the job within 4 hours. When I came back I drove off into the sunset, happy that I knew how to save money on car repairs. But soon I realized that there was a strange smell… kind of like propane. So the next day I went over to Pep Boys to get another coupon based oil change and have them check out the problem. After the diagnosis, they said that there was a hole in the newly welded area in back of the catalytic converter. So I drove on over to the local garage and you what? I treated them like real professionals. Through the shop’s English interpreter (they all spoke Spanish) I said that they are really talented at what they do and I love how they can take parts from here and there and just weld them in. I said it would be extremely helpful if they could fix the problem. They gladly agreed and while I was waiting I asked the desk guy if the mechanic could replace my unreliable battery and change the seals above my oil gasket (I have an oil leak problem).
Well, it turns out that they were favorably predisposed towards me because of how I treated them. And they gave me a quote for $50 in labor to weld on a muffler that I could bring in myself (which would make the cost cheaper). They then gave me a reasonable seal change quote that was about $350 cheaper than it would have been at Pep Boys. Next they directed me to go to Autozone to buy a battery because Autozone installs batteries for free. The guys in the hispanic shop respected me so they felt bad about charging me labor for the installation.
When I went to Autozone, they wanted to charge me $114 for a new battery. No way I say! I’m not going to pay that for a battery that’s specifically designed for my Honda. I was determined to save save money on car repairs so the desk guy directed me to go to a nearby shop that sells generic batteries. It took me 30 minutes to find the place because they were so hidden, but I was surprised to hear that they would charge me only $60 for the battery with the installation fee included. Woah! What a difference in price. And there’s no difference in performance between that battery and a custom made one.
I think the best lesson here concerning how to save money on car repairs is that treating people the right way yields positive results. Also, if you walk into the car repair shop with the heaviness of the world on your shoulders, you’re going to get a bad deal for sure. It amazes me how intelligent and educated consumers don’t know how to carry themselves and deal with people. I believe they get the worst out of life because of it.