September 16, 2010

DIY Car Repair

A few weeks ago my car broke down.   The car in question wasn't my normal driving car but instead my classic car that I only drive occasionally.    I decided to take it out for a spin on a sunny afternoon and only got a few blocks away before it stalled out and wouldn't start again.   I tinkered with it a little but couldn't find anything obviously wrong so ended up walking home.

Decide To Fix it Myself

The car wasn't far from my house so I called my friend who has a truck and he towed me home.   This saved me a tow fee which would have ran about $50.   To pay back my friend I bought him dinner for about $13.   The problems with the car didn't seem too major and I figured I should be able to fix it myself. When I got the car home I tinkered with it some more and ended up making a couple trips to the auto stop for parts.   I spent $8.66 at the first trip to the auto shop and then another $8.97 on my second trip.    I don't know exactly how much I would have had to pay a mechanic to do the work but I'm assuming it would have cost something in the range of $100 to $200.

Worth the Time

All together I spent less than $31 on the parts and dinner for my friend.    Towing the car would have cost $50 and having a mechanic fix it would have ran minimum $100.   So I would have spent at least $150 if I hadn't done the work myself.   I saved at least $119.   I didn't exactly track how long I spent working on the car.  I'm guessing I spent 3-5 hours total between my tinkering and trips to the auto shop.   Since I worked 3-5 hours and saved about $119 that comes out to a decent hourly wage.  On an hourly basis I saved $23.80 to $39.67 per hour.

A little help, a little luck, the right situation

Of course I also benefited with the help of my truck owning friend.   Every frugal person needs a friend with a truck.    I'm not a car mechanic and not very knowledgeable or experienced with car repair.  I've done a few minor repairs over the years but am not too confident in my skills and I count myself somewhat lucky that I got the car fixed properly.   If I hadn't been able to fix it myself I might have wasted several hours of my time and the $18 on parts and still had to pay a mechanic.    If this was my only car then I might have had to hire a mechanic first thing in order to make sure I had transportation.  Or if I was busy doing other important things I might not have had the time to do the work myself.  

In this case it worked out just fine and I saved myself some money.   The more work I do on cars the better I'll get at it. 

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