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According to CARiD, the average age of a vehicle on the road today is 12 years, so you will likely need to make multiple visits to the workshop over those years. And depending on what needs to be done, these repairs can be expensive.
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But there is a way to save big on your next repair. When drivers buy the parts, tools and chemicals they need online and do the job themselves, they can save up to 85% on average on a car repair, according to CARiD data.
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A savings of up to 85% is a tempting prospect, but it’s important that you only attempt a repair yourself if you’re sure you can do it safely.
“Any repair requires some level of safety precautions,” says Richard Reina, Product Training Manager at CARiD. “Things like checking tire pressure, replacing the cabin filter, replacing a light bulb or replacing the wiper blades are the easiest and safest. You don’t need many tools, and you don’t have to work around a hot engine or jack up the car. What I like about starting with these recommendations is that they build a certain level of trust.”
Once you become familiar with these simple repairs, you’re ready to do your own oil change.
“Changing the engine oil isn’t difficult, but you must have a set of jacks to properly and securely support the weight of the car before you slip under it,” Reina said.
You can still save by buying parts yourself and letting a professional do the repairs
If you’re not comfortable doing a repair yourself — or it’s a more complicated repair that requires a professional — you can still save by buying the replacement parts you need and taking them to the repair shop. According to CARiD data, spare parts account for up to 77% of the total cost to consumers.
Before you do this, however, it’s important to talk to your mechanic and see if they’ll allow you to purchase the parts yourself.
“A lot of mechanics won’t do that, but a lot of mechanics will,” said Reina. “Having a relationship with a mechanic increases the likelihood that they will accept having a part from you. Having this conversation up front adds credibility. It gets them to understand that you’re not trying to rip you off, but you want them to understand you’re just trying to save some money and may have looked into that particular parts source before.”
Once you get the ok from your mechanic on where to buy parts, you have a few options, each with their own pros and cons.
Buy parts directly from your car dealer
“Your first inclination might be to go to the dealer. The advantage is that the dealership may be close to where you bought your car and where you can get branded parts,” Reina said.
And in some cases, this might be your only option.
“Depending on the age of the car and what part you are looking for, this may be the only choice. The aftermarket may not have gotten around to producing the part you need,” said Reina.
However, this is also probably the most expensive place to buy auto parts.
Purchase parts from a brick-and-mortar aftermarket dealer
Another option is to purchase parts from retailers such as Pep Boys, AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts and NAPA Auto Parts.
“The great thing about them is that they are very competitive with the car dealerships and therefore offer parts at a lower price than the car dealers,” said Reina. “They will also offer a greater variety of different brands.”
Buy parts from an online aftermarket retailer
“The online retailers may give you the most choice, you may get some of the best prices, but you also have to factor in shipping costs for the final price,” Reina said. “Some places offer free shipping, others have a small shipping fee. You have to take all of that into account.”
Another thing to consider is how soon you need the new part.
“If you need that part today, you’re not going to buy it online today,” Reina said. “The Toyota dealership or AutoZone, if they have the part on their shelves, I can drive there and get the part in an hour.”
Tips for buying car parts
When buying parts from a brick-and-mortar or online aftermarket retailer, it’s important to do comparison shops and research to make sure you’re not sacrificing quality to cut costs – after all, it can be very dangerous to have a faulty part in to install your car.
“I usually advise people to start by looking for brand names that they might recognize,” Reina said. “Some brand names are associated with vehicle manufacturers. For example, Motorcraft is a trademark of Ford, Mopar is a trademark of Chrysler, and ACDelco is a trademark of General Motors. I also advise people to look at the warranty. If a name brand replacement part sells for $100 and someone sells the same part for $30, that should raise a red flag. How good does this $30 part compare to the $100 part? But look at the guarantee. If the $100 part comes with a one-year warranty and the $30 part comes with the same warranty, maybe the risk analysis here is worth it.”
It’s always a good idea to seek advice.
“See if the online store has a phone number where you can call and speak to a sales representative so they can advise you on which parts will work best for you,” Reina said. “Ask friends, acquaintances, colleagues or relatives whether they have ever shopped online or bought this brand before. There are also forums that you can check out online. So a lot is doing some homework in advance.”
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