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DIY vs. Professional Help

How to Save Hundreds in Brake Repair

The typical American is living on a tight budget and struggling to keep up with their costly lifestyle needs. Car repair is one of the top concerns for money-conscious individuals: It can be expensive, unpredictable and aggravating. As calculated with data presented in the 2011 Consumer Expenditure Survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, the average annual spending of vehicle maintenance and repair is $805. Consumers have the tendency to approach auto repair with a credit card rather than a car jack, but most would be surprised to realize that many common fix-ups can be easily completed at home -- without expensive professional help. Not only is it possible to ease the financial strain of auto maintenance by avoiding costly mechanic fees, but the process of fixing your ride can be fun and add experience to your repair repertoire.

Brake replacement is one of the most common first-time automotive jobs for DIYers. Although it may feel disconcerting to tinker with the most important safety-related part of your vehicle, replacing brake pads is a relatively simple process that will go smoothly as long as you follow the guidelines outlined in your vehicle's repair manual. The only requirements are a basic competency in DIY auto projects, a simple tool kit and a car repair manual for your specific vehicle.

Below is an example of the cost savings on a front and rear brake pad replacement for a typical sedan and luxury vehicle. These figures are average estimates gathered from a national auto parts chain and local Honda and Mercedes dealerships. The DIY costs incurred include the price of parts plus a $25 Haynes manual.

VehicleDealership PriceDIY Price$Saved
2005 Honda Accord
2005 Mercedes C240

This example demonstrates the money saving potential of DIY auto repair. On this common, routine procedure, it's possible to save over $400 when skipping professional services. The two hours spent performing the repair will replace the time formerly spent agonizing over a dealership's inflated prices, and the worry of whether or not they even performed the job successfully. Brake repair is a great way to enter into the DIY world; the simple task will prepare you for larger, more complicated auto projects down the road, saving you hundreds of dollars yearly. In this dismal economic climate, it's possible to find freedom from repair service dependence by taking the time to educate yourself on the mechanics of your valued investment.

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