3 Frugal Car Tasks I Won’t Handle Myself

by Kevin on August 17, 2009

In my last article I gave you thirteen frugal car tasks that I am willing to do on my own to save money.

That having been said there are just some things I am not willing to do on my own.

Frugal Car Tasks We Don’t Do

  • I don’t change our own oil even though I have most of the important tools needed to do the job. The cost is generally $25-30 and they rotate the tires for free. Once you factor in the cost of the oil and filter (around $15) and the added risk of doing something wrong that will hurt the engine I am willing to pay for this luxury.
  • All major repairs, especially involving the engine area, are taken to a certified mechanic. Of course I can’t do car body repair so I don’t do that either.
  • I don’t drive around with minimal or no car insurance. (Not having insurance is illegal.) A penny of prevention is worth a pound of pain.

Stupid Things I’ve Done to Be Frugal

Additionally there are some really dumb things I have done in the past in order to save a few bucks. I’m sure I will think of more later, but here are two winners.

  • My first car was a 1995 BMW 318is. Boston Green Metallic. Beautiful car. My parents wanted me to have a safe car and I put a good deal of my movie theater earnings into the car. Then I got interested in modifying the car — which while a fine idea, is generally stupid in high school and college because you don’t have any money. I sank a lot of money in parts into the car. Thankfully she kept me safe for a good 50,000 miles. (Originally purchased at 127,800 and sold at 178,000 or so.) When they say German engineering is quality they mean it!
  • In that same car I installed a sport suspension that dropped the car 1-2 inches in ride height. This made the car handle and look better. A buddy and I did the install. Of course we  installed the suspension wrong, and the front shocks went out within a year or two. That was a nice $500 mistake. On top of that I forgot to get an alignment originally. I wore my rear tires down to the metal before noticing. They easily could have blown out and killed me on one of my many trips to and from home or to visit my then fiancee (four hours and two hours, respectively). Stupid, stupid, stupid.

What car related tasks are you not willing to do on your own to save a buck? Any great “Wow, I can’t believe I did something so stupid…” stories?


Phileas August 17, 2009 at 8:53 am

Very interesting, thank you. There is however a huge difference between budgeting and being frugal!

SingleGuyMoney August 17, 2009 at 4:32 pm

I know my limits and I know what I can and can’t do. I would love to save money by doing my oil changes but like you said, I’d be scared that I would tear something up and cause even bigger problems. I would much rather pay $24.95 for an oil change instead of hundreds of dollars to replace an engine.

Kevin August 17, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Exactly. Plus the slight risk of the car falling on you when up on jacks/jack stands. Likely? Probably not. But risking it? Ehh…

Ricky August 19, 2009 at 11:33 am

Dirty oil out, new filter, clean oil in. 20 minutes of your time, and if you’re good you won’t even get you hands dirty.

Only kidding, but it really is a simple process. And so far no vehicles have fallen on me. 🙂

My wife and I drive so much that I am doing about 14 oil changes a year and doing them myself adds up to about $150-$200 extra in my pocket. It’s definitely worth it for me!

Kevin September 19, 2009 at 12:52 pm

When we build our super eco-green awesome house I plan to include an awesome garage with a lift. I’ll do my oil changes then!

Roger September 9, 2009 at 10:07 am

Pretty much anything more complex than checking and replacing the fluids in my car, I try to avoid (including oil changes). Yes, it’s probably not that hard, once you know what you are doing (but then, what is?) but gaining the needed experience requires time and energy I would rather devote to other things. To say nothing of the small, but still existent, possibility that I will mess something up and spend more to get it fixed, and the cost/benefit analysis for car care always seems to come down in favor of outsourcing the tasks.

As for really stupid car related things, I once drove for oh, about 80 miles or so on a flat tire without realizing it. In my defense, (a) I was really tired, coming off working the night shift, (b) it was driving pretty well, for a flat, and (c) I was trying out the cruise control, and thought that it was giving me problems. Still, not my proudest driving moment.

Grant September 17, 2009 at 11:47 am

Have to disagree about oil changes, for two reasons: 1. I like doing that stuff (ok not really a valid reason) and 2. if I do it myself I know for certain it’s done right, with quality materials. Not all oil filters are created equal. And do we really know what kind of oil the zippy lube is putting in there? Also I don’t have some guy trying to sell me a $20 wiper blade I can put on myself for $5.

Kevin September 19, 2009 at 12:49 pm

I can understand the knowing it was done right with quality materials… but its the doing it right part that worries me! Plus if they mess it up you have someone else to hold liable. Likely? No.

It all comes down to what you are comfortable with. At this point I’m not comfortable doing it.

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