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Buying Auto Parts Yourself Saves On Repairs

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Mother Nature’s Wrath – Part 2

I wrote a few days ago about how I slid on some black ice driving home on Friday and today I limped my poor Celica the half mile down the road to a local auto repair shop. I had hoped my only problem was a misalignment of my right wheel but based on how the car was handling it was probably a forgone conclusion that it was going to be more significant. Based on my lack of auto mechanic skills, I knew I probably could trust my own judgement as much as that of a trained professional who had a keen sense of who could be had and who couldn’t so here we go. Oh, and as my glass half empty mindset expected, the news was bad.



I bent the front right lower control arm to the point of it nearly being broken and the ball joint probably needed to be replaced. I also managed to bend the wheel itself and that would need to be replaced. The mechanic quoted me the job at $657.79, $225.15 of it being labor and the remainder of $432.64 being parts – none of that included the aftermarket rim I bent. Having read 2million’s post for the Carnival of Personal Finance before receiving the fateful call, I knew I could get a better deal by getting the parts myself.

I tried to find the two parts online but couldn’t find a vendor that was both reputable (random-car-parts-real-fast-from-by-cousin-tony.com didn’t qualify as reputable) and had the part in stock. My next and final option was to call a local Toyota dealership and see if they had any on hand. If they did, I could get the work completed today, if not, at least I could get a better price on the parts. Not stocked. I did however find out that the control arm only costs $166.87 and the ball joint an additional $52.31 and both would be ready tomorrow morning at 10am – grand total of $219.18 plus tax.

The rim was harder to find because it’s a regional dealer-installed part that my area dealerships wouldn’t have. The parts guru who sold me the two parts looked up my VIN and gave me the dealer code that originally sold the car. A quick phone call to 1-800-331-4331 and a dealer lookup resolved the number to a Village Cadillac Toyota down in Florida, including phone number. Another phone call and I found out my aftermarket dealer-installed 17″ EFP Enkei Alloy Wheel (Toyota PN: 00041-12990) would cost $216 plus $20 shipping and would arrive next Monday.

All told, I saved myself $213.46 by ordering the parts myself but I have no choice but to use that mechanic to do the $225.15 of labor – the car handles like a wet dog in a bathtub and would need a tow if I wanted to go elsewhere. The total, hopefully, is now set at $680.33 + $89.99 wheel alignment, or, $770.32 plus whatever taxes I missed in those numbers.

Happy Holidays everyone!

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4 Responses to “Buying Auto Parts Yourself Saves On Repairs”

  1. 2million says:

    Congrats on the savings! Out of curiosity did the mechanic give you a hard time about supplying your own parts? In my experience they were great, however I have heard that some mechanics will grumble alot or refuse because they make a lot of money on the parts.

  2. jim says:

    I just told him I bought the parts and would bring them in the next day, without really giving him a chance but he didn’t seem to care.

  3. mbhunter says:

    My mechanic will not put on customer-provided parts for “quality control” reasons.

  4. Coyote Blog says:

    Carnival of the Capitalists 12/19/2005

    Welcome to the Carnival of the Capitalists and my second time hosting the COTC. Note that several people tried to submit multiple posts – when that happened, I picked just one to include this week. Many thanks to Silflay Hraka


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