Vehicle owners often overpay, sometimes by hundreds of dollars, to solve problems they could easily fix themselves. We are not talking about under-the-hood projects that will get your hands black with grease. Here are five no-brainers to save money while keeping your car running and looking sharp.
Buy replacement key fobs online
Remote-control car key fobs are handy, until you lose one. Dealerships charge exorbitant prices for replacement fobs — $234 for a 2016 model. If you buy a fob on eBay Motors instead, you could pay as little as $20, depending on the key, and it might cost about $100 for a mobile locksmith to program it.
Find a mobile paintless dent remover
You backed into the garbage can, leaving an ugly dent in your car. A body shop would easily charge $700 for the fix. But if the paint isn’t broken, a mobile paintless dent repair technician can massage it back into shape for about $150. Find a highly rated technician on Yelp and text pictures of the dent to see whether it’s doable.
Touch up — don’t repaint — scratches
A body shop will want to repaint an entire car panel that’s been scratched to make sure the color matches. But with a steady hand, an artist’s brush and some patience, you can do the job yourself, touching up scrapes, scratches and pitting. You can buy a kit that matches your car’s paint and provides everything you need to make many blemishes disappear. Prices range from $10 for paint pens to over $50 for premium touch-up kits.
Buy replacement parts online
You can buy auto parts for a fraction of the price via eBay or another online retailer and have a mechanic install them. But don’t pick the cheapest option. “Make sure you’re buying a reputable brand,” said Greg Kopf, brand ambassador for CARiD, an online auto parts retailer. You may even be able to buy the same part the dealership sells at a reduced cost.
Clear foggy headlights yourself
YouTube videos show foggy headlights rubbed clear with toothpaste as a buffing compound — a quick $2 fix. “I’ve never tried it myself,” said Kopf, who suggests buying a headlight-clearing kit. You can find these online for about $20. Or, he says, buying and replacing the headlight assembly costs a bit more, but installation is simple.