The $25 car repair

What is it about cars? From used car salesmen, to shady repair shops, they just seem to attract unsavory characters. I have a couple of horror stories (some even documented on this blog), and I’m sure you do too. Quite frankly, the negative experiences FAR, FAR out-weigh the positive experiences.

So when I do get a positive experience, I am more than happy to crow about it.

Turns out I had just such an experience with Aspen Auto Body. Remember that enormous scratch I put down the side of my car the other day? They fixed it. For TWENTY FIVE BUCKS.

I had some vague notions of buying the paint and trying to touch it up myself. The paint was about $10, and from what I read online people were saying like $700 for a shop to fix something like that (apparently they just replace the whole panel these days rather than repair them, and this was across both doors). So it seemed like I had little to lose. However, the car has to be warm for the paint to take which was a bit of a problem (I don’t have a garage), and after watching a few tutorials on youtube, I was worried it was going to be a bit more painstaking than I was willing to spend. Most recommend dabbing the paint on with a toothpick. Did I mention this was an enormous scratch?

Worse, while I dithered around trying to make a decision, it started to rust (in about a week…yay Chicago winter!). So now I would need to sand it, etc.

I decided to get an estimate, just to make see where I was at. Fortunately, I don’t have a “usual” body shop, so Aspen was referred to me. It was very close by work, tucked away on a little access road where you would never find it. I ran it over for an estimate.

“If there’s a cheap way to fix it and an expensive way, I’d go for the cheap way,” I ventured.
“Oh, in that case, we could just touch it up,” he said. “Maybe $30?”
“Thirty?” I repeated in disbelief, thinking maybe I’d misheard. “Thirty dollars?”

I honestly thought he’d laugh at me and say, “Thirty THOUSAND you idiot.” Repair shops around here usually charge something like $90 an hour. I can’t even get an estimate for $30. I’m lucky to get a haircut for $30.

The place was very low key, but by god if they didn’t fix it for $25. I paid cash. And it looks great! You can see the paint if you get close, but from a distance it’s pretty unnoticable. It’s *certainly* a lot better than I would have done, and the paint itself was $10, so they only charged me $15 in labor. $15!

Fast, cheap, and high quality to boot. Best $15 I ever spent.

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