Everyone should make an effort to save money. A great way for anyone to save money involves a bit of research when shopping. The money saving possibilities can be huge when you’re willing to shop around, especially when shopping online. They were for us on our last car repair.
Our car repair adventure
Last week my car wouldn’t start. We ended up buying a new battery, since it wasn’t holding a charge well. The day after the battery replacement we drove it only to discover another issue. The engine malfunction light came on and next the car died on us while driving. Luckily, my husband was driving and we were able to safely pull off the side of the road.
My husband got it to start again and we pulled into an O’Reilly auto parts to check what was wrong. As a free service they plugged our car into a computer to see what issue triggered the malfunction light. This was awesome, since it would have cost a pretty penny to have the same thing done at the dealer. We were told there was an issue with the MAP Sensor, which they carried, We ended up buying one there, since we needed the part and they told us it was an easy do it yourself fix.
$97 later we had the part and drove home. Once home my husband started researching where the part was located on the car. He stumbled upon a tutorial video where the guy said he picked up the MAP Sensor for $8! My husband was a little shocked and had to replay the video because we had just spent $97 at a reputable auto parts store. So we held off on fixing the car. After that my husband went on another search for a cheaper part. He ended up finding one on carparts.com for about $14 total. The only catch was that we’d have to wait 3 days for the part to be delivered. Being a stay at home mom I agreed that it would be worth the small sacrifice, so we ordered it and waited.
What I did without a car
I was without my car and since I never learned how to drive stick shift I couldn’t take my husband’s vehicle to run errands either. I did have to put off some things till a later time, nothing major, but still an inconvenience. I took the stroller one day to Winco to stock up on groceries. I also rode my bike to Dollar Tree to get a necessary item I needed to complete a gift. It’s getting hot here in AZ, so I did have to leave the house early in the morning to avoid the extreme heat of the day. Even with these inconveniences I don’t regret being without a car for a few days.
Cost and savings
My husband returned the part we had previously purchased from O’Reilly for a full refund, so we got that money back. In the end we saved $83 by comparison shopping and spent $14 by taking a chance on an online part. That’s a savings of 85%, which is pretty impressive in my book.
Moral of the story
It is important to comparison shop. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Some people might go straight to the dealer and wind up spending around $200 or more for the same MAP sensor repair we did for $14. Trust me the hassle of learning how to do mechanical work yourself is worth the savings. Even more savings are to be had, if you find the same part online. Just be sure to check that you are getting the correct replacement part for your vehicle. After all, buying online and the cheapest can often be risky business, so remember to do your due diligence.
Do what you can to avoid buying on the spot. Sometimes this can’t be avoided, but take your time if allowed. We bought a part on the spot, because we needed it. Though we eventually returned the part and instead bought a cheaper one online. For us, waiting a few extra days to drive the car again made sense. Consider the sacrifice(s) and make a decision that works best for you.
What has been your experience comparison shopping? How have online purchases worked out for you and your family?
Tawnya is the founder of The Dancing Dollar, a blog about frugality & personal finance. She writes about how frugal living can help other individuals & families live [happily] below their means. She & her husband are on the path to pay off their home in less than half the time. Click here to learn more.