Let me tell you a little story. You see, we are The Thrifty Couple, but we’ve never claimed to be the “all-knowing, all-experienced Jack and Jackie of all trades.”
What I mean by that is that, well…we really, really stink when it comes to DIY car stuff – like really bad! It has been an intimidating, frustrating and expensive experience for us in the past. We are really dense in this particular area of our lives.
And yes, that includes even Alex, the man of the house. He is an engineer by trade and can decipher and compose data and code in the software realm like nobody’s business (remember I am married to him so I can be
honest biased :)) but cannot decipher a problem with the car. Don’t worry, he gave me permission to share the honest truth about this part of our lives.
And honestly, this problem of no “car-fixing” skills is a big problem for a couple that is trying to be as frugal and money-savvy as possible.
In fact, I want to share a story with you to show just how much we do not know about cars and repairs.
A few years ago, we had a problem.
It wasn’t a small problem, but we were being told it was a several-hundred-dollar-fix problem. But the problem was either X or Z and the mechanic wouldn’t know which it was until he got in there and got to work. Only after would we discover just how BIG of a problem it was.
It stunk and it’s often the territory of a thrifty couple – car troubles – because we often drive older, more used cars.
Having been blessed by not having many car issues in the past, when this day came it was honestly devastating. Even though we had money in the bank to cover it from our emergency fund…we kept asking ourselves whether there was a better way.
That’s when we heard about AutoZone. Mind you, an auto parts store is the lowest on our list of experience/knowledge. But we heard that AutoZone had a machine that could diagnose a vehicle’s problem (, diagnose in minutes, and diagnose for free.
That is way too cool and perhaps way to good to be true! But, we gave it a try even on the drive home from the mechanic. We pulled into AutoZone and asked if we could get a free diagnosis (wishing we could do the same with the doctor). They came out to the parking lot, hooked up their machine (The Fix Finder), ran the test and we had a result in a couple of minutes.
We now knew what was wrong with the car. Completely brilliant plan!
BUT…the next step was repairing it. Now that we knew the problem, we could take it back to the mechanic and tell him and have him give us a better estimate. We don’t like walking into anything with the, “Well, it could be this, or it could be that and it’s going to cost between $300 – I dunno, maybe $900?” Sorry, that just does not fly in our book.
However, the very kind associate at AutoZone actually said we can repair it ourselves for a very small fraction of the cost.
We both looked at each other and then at him and said, “No, no, no, you don’t understand, we can’t fix cars. We cause MORE damage. But thanks for your vote of confidence.”
He said, “No, really, you can! I promise.”
We responded with a dumbfounded look on our faces with a “How?”
He said, “Come back inside the store and I will show you!”
So we followed him with reluctance, only because he said we could do it for a fraction of the cost. The money-saving factor was the turning point that piqued our curiosity as to whether we really could do this.
The gentleman showed us the problem and the repair guide from his computer. He gathered the parts while we were looking over the steps, came back, said that he would print the instructions for free and let us borrow the tools for free to fix it ourselves. The only thing left was to buy the parts. We did and the price we paid (again, just for the parts) was FAR less than the lowest estimate for the more minor issue that the mechanic alluded to.
So we walked out happy campers because our problems were behind us.
How did the story end?
Well, it just ended. It was a smooth, seamless, easier-than-it-should-have-been DIY car repair and we still had nearly all of our emergency fund left! There was no dramatic outcry from the garage, there were no fights, there were no disagreements, there was no running back and forth from the auto parts store (don’t even get me started about our home repair stories – LOL!), there were no complaints, swearing, broken fingers, drama and sweat!
It was done.
It was cheap.
It was easy.
It was beautiful!
And now that we are heading into the beautiful green season (Spring!) and with tax time coming up, we want to help you spend your refund wisely by sharing this experience with you to save you “green” on your car repairs. This is the #1 cause of financial emergencies, so now you can put more of your tax refund into a road trip instead of spending it on huge emergency car repairs.
We don’t want our readers to spend a ton of money on car repairs. There is NOTHING to lose by checking out the free diagnostic service with the Fix Finder (not available in CA) at your local AutoZone first from now on. In fact, swing by on your way to the mechanic. You may be surprised by the information and the experience that you have.
AutoZone actually has quite a few free services and not only did our store print the instructions for free for us, but they have a repairs video guide online too if you are more this type.
Thankfully, we haven’t had any more car repair needs since this one, but we know where we are going to go first the next time. Trust us, if we can make a DIY car repair, YOU can for SURE!
And, since we are in the “green” season, planning our spring and summer road trips, getting the cars cleaned up and ready for the road trip season, we want to also give you some green!
They also put out coupons that you can often find on their Facebook page to stretch your dollars a bit more! Right now, you can grab a $7 off $30 coupon! Grab this AutoZone Coupon for the latest savings!
We would love to hear from you.
- Have you ever tried the free services at AutoZone?
- What was the cost of your last auto repair?
- Would you give this a try?
- Whatever you want about this topic!
*Please note, the giveaway is now closed on this post, but comments are always welcome. The winner was Carol (cjlgage@). Congratulations Carol!
This post is brought to you by AutoZone; the opinions are all mine.