Thursday, August 6, 2009

Green Car Repair

A couple of days ago my car was broken into while we were hiking on the Bruce Trail. The vandals broke my front passenger window, but didn't take anything (there was nothing of value in the car). Obviously we couldn't keep driving the car with no passenger's not secure, not to mention noisy, and cold (especially once December rolls around). We took this opportunity to run a green experiment and get used parts from the junk yard. My husband has a friend who's fixing up an old car, so we knew of a junk yard not far from our house. Neither of us is into cars, but we figured it's worth a shot...and even if we couldn't repair it ourselves, we might be able to avoid buying new parts.

The experiment was an unbridled success, and has definitely changed the way we look at car repairs! And Google is an excellent resource for figuring out minor repairs. : ) We got to the junkyard and actually found a car the exact same year and model as mine. We probably could have used parts from other years or models, but remember, this was our first time in a place like thus...I have to admit it is a little intimidating. Our target car was on top of another vehicle, but that just made it a little trickier to get the window out.

We took the passenger window out (after a bit of time with some tools trying to figure out how to disassemble the door...another benefit of going to a junkyard, you get some practice before trying anything on your own car! While we were there, we also picked up the heater/blower since my fan sporadically stops working. When I came home from playing Ultimate Frisbee (where I sprained my finger so I'm typing all this with 6 fingers), my car had a working blower and an intact window! DH said it was a bit tricky getting one of the screws back in, but there's a real sense of satisfaction from knowing that you can fix your own car (new skill!).

So...we fixed the car in an environmentally friendly way, and we saved some green! The mechanic quoted $280 to replace the window in my car. The junkyard charged $38 for the window. Savings of $242...not bad for a half day's work! This doesn't include fixing the blower since I didn't have a quote. The blower cost us an additional $25. The next time we have a small car repair, we'll definitely be using the junkyard. We'll probably try the u-pull section again since it lets us experiment on taking the car apart, but they will also pull the part for you (for a small fee). If you have a number of parts you need, the one near us was having an 'all you can carry out in one armload' day for $50 this weekend. We decided to just go today since we were new to the whole junkyard experience and it's probably pretty busy on those days.

Next time you have a car repair, think about getting used parts - even if you get them to pull the part and your mechanic to install. You're still eco-friendly, and you'll probably save some green as well!

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