If I keep my eyes open for coupons, I can get an oil change and tire rotation for $19.95 in my area without a problem. That’s less than it would cost me for the oil and filter, not to mention the time it saves me. But I don’t take advantage of these discounts most of the time. I take my car to a small, independent mechanic in my local area who charges $24.95 for the oil change and $10 for the tire rotation. It might seem that I’m wasting $15 on every oil change and tire rotation I get, but I don’t look at it that way, even when on this minimum wage challenge.
Paying the $15 extra pays me far more in return with the mechanic’s honesty. There have been a number of times when I’ve gone to the discount places and after receiving the oil and tire change, they insisted that there were all types of other things that needed to be repaired on the car. That’s how they make their money. They bring you in for the cheap oil change and then try to upsell you on things, no matter how tiny, that they find wrong with the car. This isn’t always 100% dishonest (although sometimes it is). There are times where there are small problems somewhere, but those issues may not need to be addressed right away. I found that when I took my car to my local mechanic and asked him to check all the things that the other shops said needed to be done, he would tell me that it wasn’t necessary to do most of them right at that moment.
In addition to his honesty, his prices are also reasonable. While the shops offering discounted oil changes are selling those as a loss leader, there prices for everything else are several hundred percent more than what my local mechanic charges. The oil and tire change are cheaper at the stores offering the coupon deal, but nothing else is.
So, why don’t I go get the discounted oil and tire change, then have all the repairs they find done at the local mechanic? I could certainly save a few bucks if I did that, but I look at more than price when I make financial decisions. I want my local mechanic to be able to survive so that he’s around in the years to come because his honesty has saved me thousands of dollars over the years. I also feel that building a relationship with him on little things like the oil change keeps a good relationship between the two of us. I find the extra amount I pay pays dividends far in excess of what I’m paying in other ways.
A perfect example is the clicking clutch. I took in my car to get the oils changed and tires rotated, and I asked him to check all the belts, filters and lights. I also told him about the clicking noise the clutch was making. He wanted to hear it so we went to the car and I let him listen as I pressed down the clutch. He said it didn’t sound good and something may have cracked. From just the sound, he thought the clutch would need to be replaced, but he would check it out and call me before dong any work on the car. I got a call a couple of hours later and he said that the oil had been changed, the tires rotated and he had replaced a back tail light that had burned out. When I asked about the clutch, he said, “Oh, there was a piece that was out of place, but it wasn’t broken so I just shoved it back in place. It seems to be fine now.” He could have easily put in a new clutch and taken the profit and I would have never known the difference. He’s done things like this on several occasions where I thought something was seriously wrong with the car, and it ended up being something he fixed for virtually nothing.
I got back some of my blood test results from the fuzzy head issue I went to see the doctors about, but so far nothing has been flagged as out of the ordinary. I’m still waiting on the thyroid and several of the vitamin blood test results and those should be coming in tomorrow. If there is nothing out of the ordinary with them, then we will move onto the sleep apnea test.
Today the only spending was on the car as I spent the rest of the time at the library working. The cost of the car check, oil change, tire rotation and changed brake light came to $45 and I was more than happy to pay that amount even while on this challenge since at one point I thought I might have to pay $300+ for a new clutch.
(Photo courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker)