The Benefits of Working For Yourself

Not in the method you might expect.

I’m talking about realizing when you’re capable of doing work that people want to charge you for, and thus doing it yourself in order to be more cost efficient.

As with most things: there’s a story here.

On Monday 9/5 I started hearing a loud screeching from my car when I was driving.  It’s happened before, so I ignored it until I got to work, figuring it would go away.  By the time I drove home from work that day, the sound had largely subsided.

On 9/6, the sound came back.  This cat and mouse game continued until I got fed up and called the dealer on 9/12 and said I’d like them to do some diagnostic service.  They agreed, and scheduled me for 9/15.  On 9/13 my car decided to all but quit on me.  Thankfully, I was able to get it to the dealer.

They came back and said:

Here’s the deal: to get you out the door, you need new belts.  Fine, do it, I need to get out the door.

That being said: Your AC system needs a recharge (I agreed) and dye (I agreed again).   They wanted to do brakes and rotors for the front tires.  I already knew they were needed, and the parts were already ordered.  I passed.

Then comes the real kicker: the ball joint on my drivers side is shot and needs replacement ASAP.  They quote me $500.  I balk.  With good reason.

A 5 minute google search (and RockAuto search) reveals the part is $40 shipped, and is all of 3 bolts.  I balked for a reason.  I can handle 3 bolts.  My guess is you can too.  The process is:

  1. Park car and put on parking brake.
  2. Jack car up on one side.
  3. Remove wheel.
  4. Loosen bolt attaching control arm ball joint to the wheel hub.
  5. Loosen remaining two bolts.
  6. Remove.
  7. Reinstall new part in opposite order.
  8. Torque bolts to manufacture specs.

I balked hard, because this to me seems like… An hours worth of work for ME, with hand tools, and no lift.  For them? 20 minutes.  Tops.

The part (for them) is ~$150.  The Alignment is $100.  That means labor and shop fees was $250.  For 20 minutes of work.


I went to Rock Auto and bought both driver and passenger control arms for $80 shipped.

I got them in a day.

I went and bought impact tools to make my life easy.

So now here’s the cost/comparison.


  • Control Arm, Driver’s Side
    • $395.00
  • Control Arm, Passenger’s Side
    • $395.00
  • Alignment
    • $100.00
  • AC Recharge + Dye
    • $139.00
  • Brakes & Rotors, Driver’s and Passenger’s Side
    • $375.00
  • Belts
    • $199.00
  • Total:
    • $1,603.00
  • Total, with Tax:
    • $1,715.21

What I paid:

  • Dealer:
    • AC Recharge + Dye
      • $139.00
    • Belts
      • $199.00
    • Total:
      • $338.00
    • Total, with Tax:
      • $352.08
  • Control Arm (Driver & Passenger), Brakes & Rotors (Driver & Passenger)
    • $238.07
  • Impact Socket Set from Harbor Freight
    • $48.11
  • Craftsman Impact Wrench Set
    • $70.22
  • 5-Year Alignment (PepBoys)
    • $125.00
  • Total:
    • $833.48

Savings: $1,715.21 – $833.48 = … $881.73

I saved over half.  OVER.  Half.

Yeah, my time is involved in my way, but honestly: assuming it takes me an hour to do each control arm, an hour to do the brakes, and an hour in waiting for the alignment: That’s $200 an hour I’m paying myself.

And that is damn impressive.

Plus, I get to keep the tools! 😀

How I’m Feeling:

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