Most people who have a problem with their car do the easy thing and take it to a garage for repairs. But others like to roll their sleeves up and save money by doing the work themselves. You save on labour costs (plus VAT), and if you can source the parts yourself, you don’t have to pay the profit margin that repair businesses charge on spares.
You could also save money by fitting a generic part, rather than paying a premium for more expensive parts from your motor’s original manufacturer.
Tracking down vital car parts
Finding the right spare part out of the millions available is far easier than it was, thanks to the internet. A quick Google search will unearth dozens of websites which source new and used car parts from thousands of motor factories, scrapyards and vehicle dismantlers across the UK and even overseas. Online auction site eBay is also a great place to get spare car parts.
You can also compare costs and quotes from different suppliers to find the best possible deal. They will text, e-mail or phone you with no-obligation quotes, often within minutes. This means you have a much better chance of finding the part or accessory you need, while paying less for it. And it means you don’t have to crawl from scrapyard to scrapyard, in the hope of finding the parts you need.
Better still, the best sites even offer next day delivery straight to your door, so you can fix the problem quickly and get back on the road again. Parts should also come with a guarantee, regardless of whether they are new or used.
Head to the high street
Don’t ignore the high street. High-street chain Halfords stocks plenty of spare parts, and it even has a handy “part finders” service, that helps you trace the correct oil filter or gear knob for your motor.
Specialist motoring magazines also carry adverts from companies that supply service kits for some makes of vehicle, for example Land Rovers, which contain all the standard parts you need for your motor.
Should you repair your car yourself?
A little mechanical knowledge (or a willingness to learn) will make doing your own repairs a lot easier. Your first step is to decide whether it is cheaper to repair or replace a problem part. Your decision will depend on the part, how badly it is damaged, and how much each option will cost.
If it’s a mechanical part, for example, it’s probably better to play safe and replace it with a new part, or at the very least a used one that has been properly tested.
Be prepared for breakdowns
Many motorists like to buy spares even before the original has broken. During recent cold winters, motor breakdown companies have been called out to fix thousands of faulty car batteries and broken windscreen wipers. If you have the spare already, and know how to fix or install it, you could save yourself a lot of hanging around.
You should also consider carrying a pack of fuses. If the fuse blows or, your windscreen wipers go during a rainstorm, it could be better to fix it yourself than waiting for your breakdown service to turn up. Make sure you locate the fuse box on your car, and carry a torch. It is also worth buying a kit of bolts for your car, or you could assemble your own kit from the list of bulbs in the Haynes manual, the DIY auto repair guide.
Get help from others
If you need help in tracing or replacing car parts, consider joining a user forum on a specialist motoring website. Plenty of other motorists are likely to have suffered similar problems, and the web can help you get in touch and share tips.
Sourcing and changing parts yourself can be a lot cheaper than using a local mechanic - and a lot more satisfying.
Find out more about car insurance