Imagine that I offered you a strategy that would allow you to continue to go to your favorite mechanic and save 25% or more on virtually every repair you had done. No, I am not selling some kind of a discount card or membership in a club. I have tripped across a strategy, one that is so simple that I could kick myself for not discovering this years earlier.
Since I don't like the idea of financing automobiles, we almost always pay cash for our vehicles and drive them as long as possible. I drive a 2002 Ford Escape that has 225,000 miles on it. It looks great and runs great, but does need visits to the mechanic every few weeks. I love the car and see no need to buy another one for now. I am the original owner and have taken very good care of it for the last ten years.
My temperature gauge last week went all the way up to 'H' and I knew something was wrong. I happened to be in the neighborhood of my regular mechanic, so I decided to drive it there directly. After a couple of minutes he told me that I needed a new radiator. While I waited in the lobby for him to put together a complete quote for me, I used my iPhone to simply Google '2002 Ford Escape Radiator' and I found one for $109 (free shipping and no sales tax). My mechanic (who I really like and have used for years) came out of his office with a quote of $260 for the radiator and $150 for installation.
I shared with him that I just found the radiator online for only $109. He was not happy at all and I quickly got the feeling that I had in some way offended him. He went on to explain that there is no way that he can compete with Internet pricing and that he was only making $70 on the radiator he was selling to me. I paused for a moment and thought to myself, 'Why should he be making anything on the radiator?' After all, he is my mechanic and I am paying him to make the repair not for retailing parts to me, right? At that moment I wondered how much money I would have been able to save over the years by purchasing my own parts and paying him only to do the work. Amazon even has a search tool for auto parts (see below).
I began doing Google searches and learned that consumers buying their own auto parts online is a growing concept. I also discovered that there is no shortage of mechanics that are open to this arrangement. From what I was able to glean from the numerous posts I read online, it appears that 30 to 50% of the profit made by mechanics is from retailing parts to their customers. My mechanic has virtually nothing on hand in the way of auto parts. He places orders with local suppliers and they deliver the parts to his shop. Now I know that he buys them at wholesale and then sells them to me at retail.
My wife and I talked about this repeatedly the rest of that day. We saved $150 just by finding the part online and we were really amazed that there was such a large savings to be had. We had to wait for the part to show up three or four days later, but that was no big deal as I have a motorcycle and my wife and I can share our other vehicle. My first thought was to write an article on this and pass along my discovery.
Maybe auto mechanics will have to accept the reality that the Internet may be changing their industry just as it has so many others. I can't imagine anyone paying full retail when it is so easy to find parts online and at such great prices. I have found posts online from a lot of angry mechanics that don't like this concept at all. I did other searches and found that I could buy a transmission for $1,500 and an engine for my car for $1,600. Wow, I might drive this car forever!
Helping you make the most of God’s money!