Monday, June 22, 2009

How Do YOU Keep Your Beater Running?

So you've settled into the comfort of knowing your Beater Car is going to last you a long time and you're going to keep it, not have a car payment, not worry about depreciation, and not bother yourself with flashy gadgets and technology (that will just break or give you a BSOD later). Now how are you going to keep it running?

If your car is older than dirt, you're probably going to spend a lot of time at junkyards. Maybe a swap meet or ten. There's other options available to you. You can become a member of a car club that has members who only own your make and model of car! These guys don't want to see any of their cherished kind of car crushed. They'll help you find parts, help you fix something that isn't made anymore, and get you back on track with getting your car in the best shape possible. You would be surprised at the kind of cars that have cult followings on the internet. I will add a feature post to this blog periodically showcasing some of these message boards, car clubs, and groups of people who cherish otherwise unexceptional vehicles.

If you have a reasonably newer car, there are skads of places to find parts and service. Some people are pretty picky and only want dealership service. But even the luxury cars like Lexus, Mercedes, and Volvo have mechanic shops who specialize in one or only a few makes. They can be found all over the country even in smaller towns. You might find a German mechanic shop that only works on Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and Volkswagen. You might find a Toyota shop that also does Lexus and some of the captive imports like Geo Prizms who are made primarily of Toyota parts. You might even find a guy who will only work on older cars or cars with carburetors or cars that have 3-cylinder engines or smaller!

There are many different kinds of places you can find parts. We've covered junkyards and swap meets, but you can also find goodies at garage sales, flea markets, small used car dealerships, thrift stores, newspaper classifieds, ads on Craigslist and the like, eBay, and thousands of websites devoted to parts. Even the individual car forums for general or specific cars have classified sections.

If you have the space, and the kind of neighbors who don't care, you can do like I did in the post below and buy a whole parts car. Parts cars can range from empty shells to cars with broken engines to whole perfectly good cars that may or may not be titled. You can make a fortune selling off the parts off that car that you DON'T use, or you can pack it all away in your garage to use later. Then you can get most of your money back selling the shell of the car for scrap metal. Cut it up and put it in the bed of your pickup and get paid more because they don't have to go through and remove all the plastics and glass and upholstery. And when it's in a million pieces, you don't need a title to scrap the metal. Sawzalls are worth their weight in platinum for this sort of thing.

Go out, search, keep your eyes open, and you'll find a ton of ways to find the parts and service you need for your beater, so you don't have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to buy a new one!

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