Car Repair, from Jim Sogi

April 29, 2012 |

 In the Franklinian spirit: My computer in my car went out; quote at dealer $2000. Forget that. Price at on line junk yard for same part $100, and $150 to install. My wife cracked the rear view side mirror in the other car. Dealer quote $550. Price for same part at on line partstrain.com $39. My body shop guy put in on in ten minutes, no charge.

They're ripping you off, and there are much much cheaper alternative out there. Time to deal with it is even less than hassling with dealers.

Chris Tucker comments: 

There is another issue related to this as well. Most people are terrified of doing any serious work on their own vehicles, either because they don't want to get dirty or because they are afraid they won't be able to figure out what to do or how to do it. Auto mechanical issues can be very intimidating. But there are tremendous resources available today that can make even the most daunting task much easier to complete.

The power window on my truck stopped working a few weeks ago and I took the door apart to see if it was something obvious. No such luck. There is a thick plastic sheet that covers most of the inner workings and I was very hesitant to pull it off as I wasn't sure how to get it back on securely. And I had no idea what to do once I got it off. So I did what most DoItYourselfers do these days — I turned to Youtube. I didn't just find out how to replace the motor and associated mechanism (its a contraption called a regulator that raises and lowers the window) - I found very detailed troubleshooting advice and diagnostics. In addition I found a complete step by step video of the removal and installation procedure on my exact door. Several of these videos are made by part selling companies and I managed to locate the part through one of them cheaper than I was able to find anywhere else.

I have always changed my own oil but when my mechanic failed to secure the bolts that held on the brake caliper on my last car I decided I should do my own brakes. There are some things you MUST know to work on brakes, but you can find them all easily online. Working on your own car can be time consuming though, especially if you have to learn a lot about the repair - so I will tackle some jobs and defer to my mechanic for others.

Jim Sogi adds: 

Youtube is a great resource. I learn complicated guitar parts by watching folks play it on video. I found a reference for a famous international guide for a recent ski mountaineering trip to the Alaska glaciers on you tube. There is stuff there that is current and informative, in addition to all the garbage.  


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