A few years ago, my very nice brother-in-law accidentally came too close to our car while backing out of the garage (we were parked in the driveway.) Another inch to the left and he would have missed our car all together. However, as it was, he put a dent in the front door, the back door and pulled the chrome a little bit off both doors.
It didn't seem like too much damage. Seemed like any kid with a hammer and a tube of super glue should have been able to fix it. I certainly didn't want to send it to my insurance company and I refused to have my sister and her husband send it to their company. The hike in the insurance payments would have been ridiculous (the criminality of car insurance rates is another topic for another blog.) I said that I would get an estimate on getting it fixed. My brother-in-law insisted that he would pay for it. Deep down, I figured that I could swing the hundred or so bucks it would cost to fix. What would be the big deal.
So, I naively walked into a body shop to get an estimate. The guy looked at the car, went to his computer, did some math and presented me with an estimate for a little under $2000!!! What!!! Are you crazy? Did you actually look at this car? How could it POSSIBLY be that much money?
It turns out that we had to completely replace SIX components to the car!?!? BIG pieces.... like the entire doors - top and bottom! What? This is insane?
Well, I just KNEW there was a cheaper way. It was unthinkable that I, the queen of bargains, would even consider paying such a huge amount of money to fix a deep scratch and a couple of broken plastic clamps.
My hunt began.
I checked on the internet, went for a few more estimates, talked to friends and friends of friends. Couldn't really find anything much better. It was either live with the damage (which I would have if I could but the dangling chrome was dangerous. I had to get it fixed) or pay these exorbitant prices.
Finally, I figured out that I could check on Craigslist.com and found a guy who did auto body repair in the back alley of his house. I agreed to drive the car the two hours away, leave it overnight and come back for it. I was a big leery that the car would be gone when I came back to get it, but at that point there was little that I could do and I was just plain tired of trying to get this done.
We came back the next day and found out that the guy had NOT replaced the parts, but had filled the dents with some sort of "filler" and then painted and sanded the door. It really wasn't that bad.... it just wasn't what I had expected. To this day (a few years later) the paint still holds up.
The fixing of the chrome wasn't as good. Turns out that instead of replacing the broken clamps he had just glued the chrome back on. That didn't hold up very well in the Southern California heat, so we have had to reglue it a couple of times.
Nice story, Bobbi, but why are you telling us this?
Because I KNEW that there was a way to buy the replacement parts for MUCH cheaper. I just KNEW it. My bargain senses were tingling and I just knew that I was missing something and couldn't find it.
But.... TODAY, finally, the winds of bargain fate blew the location of the Bargain Car and Truck Replacement Parts my way.
It's called Pick Your Part, The World's Largest Self Serve Auto Recyclers with about a dozen locations in the Southern California area.
Essentially, this is an auto junk yard, with great customer service. The idea is that they will buy used and junked cars and trucks. They put them in a junk yard. You can go into the junk yard (you have to pay a $2 admission fee) and go find the parts you need. This might require some tools, so make sure you bring your own handyperson and some tools.... or your best batting eyelashes. Once you get your part separated from the car or truck it came into the junk yard with, take it to the front desk and pay for it. Prices for most items are listed online (a very nice touch) so that you will have some idea what it will cost.
You will save TONS of money. Of course, if you are the type that doesn't want to get their hands dirty or if you are concerned that the paint on the replacement part won't match exactly... then by all means, pay $2000 for $150 worth of replacement parts. But if you do, please don't tell anyone that you know me.
If you aren't in Southern California, then you can do an internet search for "recycled auto parts"+"the name of your town, area, state or country". If you can't find any place near you, you can contact a company in Minnesota that will ship the part to your front door - A-Abco Fridley's Recycled Auto Parts.
Hope this helps you. It surely made my day.