Why we love the auto wreckers

Our second car is a lease assumption — meaning, we took over someone else’s lease, in theory, to simplify the process of temporarily having a second car so that, in theory, we could walk away from it easily. This hypothesis did not prove itself out, and we often wonder why we fell for leasing again.
Nevertheless, we have a lease on a car, its up in February, we won’t go over the mileage, there’s nothing wrong with it, and we never want to see it again. With a buy-out of over $14,000 we’re glad all of this is true. The previous owner, however, did not put in the factory stereo — even though I asked him too, and thought for a long time, that he had. Once you see what a Toyota factory stereo looks like, it becomes obvious that the one in there will not pass the lease-return inspection. So I called up Toyota to find out what it would cost to purchase and install a Toyota-branded stereo for our car. $800 plus labor, they said.
Eight hundred dollary-doos!
Drove myself down to the auto wreckers and picked up a Toyota stereo for $90. $46 for the mounting brackets, and a quick trip to Home Depot to buy bolts of the right size, and I’ll do the job myself for under $150.
Similarly,  the turn signals in our primary vehicle were acting up. The part from Saturn was $90 after tax, and labor was a minimum of $120 to install it. Went down to the wreckers with a screw driver, pulled the part from a Saturn they had on the lot for $40, went home and installed it myself in about 15 minutes.
I’m not a grease monkey — I don’t even know how to change my own oil. But I can twist a screw driver, and snap some plastic clips into place. Why do car manufacturers insist on screwing over their customers? Why do their customers insist on doing business with them? How dumb would a person have to be to trust the place that sold them their car to actually service it, in this day and age (outside of warranty, that is)?
It costs $110 for Saturn to read the error code from our car computer every time the trouble light goes on. You can buy a code reader once for $30 and read it yourself in under 5 minutes!
$50 worth of tools, and a willingness to do a little work yourself, can save you hundreds a year. Why don’t more people know this?!

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