Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Easy DIY Car Repair - $250 Savings

Recently, the small pullout compartment on the center console in my spouse's 2004 car stopped staying closed, for no apparent reason. Since it wasn't a major issue, she didn't take it in for repair immediately, waiting for the next scheduled oil change.

To her surprise, the service tech gave a quick estimate of $250 or more. Pretty pricey for the replacement of a pullout compartment similar to an ashtray. Unfortunately, it involved the removal of a console panel to remove the compartment. At this price, my spouse decided to live with the problem or design our own alternative solution to keep it closed.

After coming up with a velcro patch idea, I decided to Google the issue. I found a site that described how to disassemble the console and then found a another site with a downloadable manual. In about 30 minutes, I was able take apart the console and discovered problem with the compartment. Apparently, the piece that held the spring closure had broken. Fortunately, the I was able to find the spring within the automatic gear shift section. I also found the piece that had broken off.

Although the attachment piece had broken, I was able to re-engage the spring with the compartment and get back 90% of the function. Specifically, the compartment now closes, but when opened, it doesn't consistently lock in the open position. My spouse found the solution to be acceptable, since the compartment is closed 99.99% of the time.

Overall, I thought is was a simple repair, and one that shouldn't have cost $250. While the dealer charges a reasonable price for routine maintenance, it seemed this estimate was very high. Now that I know what is needed, I'll go back to the dealer and ask for the specific part. If it still very high, I'll go the local junkyard and get the piece for a reasonable price.

Disclosure: In my youth, I used to do my own oil changes and minor repairs when cars were much simpler.

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This is not financial or repair advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

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