I took my Mini Cooper in for service knowing it needed repairs, but was overwhelmed when the dealer estimate came in at $4,500. I bought the car used with a 50,000 mile warranty and this was the first time anything – and everything, it seems – needed fixing. With coupons I negotiated 10% off my total bill, wiping out $450. I considered asking for 20% off if I paid in cash, but even then my bill would be $3,600. The car is only worth $9,300!
Then I remembered a super old post from February 2009 titled, 15 things we overpay for. At the end of the post I confessed to overpaying for five of the things on the list, including car maintenance at the dealer. Two readers, Lisa and Tyrone, recommended mechanics who work on Minis. I dug up the post, called both mechanics and got two estimates within 15 minutes.
How much would repairs cost? $1,900 at one, $1,400 at the other. That’s 43% and 31% of the dealer estimate, respectively. Wow!
So what is the difference between the Mini dealer and a regular mechanic?
Long story short, I picked up my Mini from the dealer, paid $82 for the inspection and dropped it off at a regular mechanic’s shop. I was leaning towards the mechanic who quoted me $1,900, but his first opening was July 14 so I took it to the cheaper guy. My final bill may be higher, but so far I’m on track to save $3,100 thanks to BargainBabe.com readers!
Here is the work I am having done on my car (no DIY repairs for me):
- replace front brakes and rotors, flush brake system
- clean the throttle body and fuel injection system
- flush the cooling system and replace fluids
- replace lower controlling rubber bushings, which are cracked
- replace power steering fluid hoses, which are leaking
- replace two engine mounts, which are cracked
- install two new back tires
- align wheels
The experience made me realize that the collective saving power of BargainBabe.com readers really is amazing. If you are trying to save money on something, email me and I’ll share it on the blog. Who knows? Maybe another reader will help you save thousands of dollars.