Saving Money the MacGyver Way

Last week, during a downpour, I had a fender bender. As I was slowing down, my car hydroplaned and I ended up hitting the guard rail. Luckily, no one else was involved and the car was drivable after the accident.

My car hit the guardrail on the front drivers side. The rail missed my bumper (unfortunately) and crumpled the hood (not too much), the side panel was smashed around the park light, the headlight and park lights were smashed, and the engine compartment frame was bent in around the headlight.

My first thought was to start looking into how much this was going to cost to get fixed asap. My head was hurting at the thought of probably spending $500-$1,000 (if I'm lucky) to get this repaired. Side note: I dropped everything but the liability insurance on the car since the value of the car was only $3-4,000.

I knew I had an upcoming multi-hour evening trip in a few days that I needed the car fixed for so I wouldn't get a ticket for not having a headlight. I also have been feeling the pinch of spending more than I have been making for the last couple months (cash-wise) and really wanted to keep my expenses to an absolute minimum. I slept on this and decided I was going to MacGyver the car to help me keep my current expenses to a minimum.

I went to Walmart and bought a roll of duct tape ($2.12) and a headlight bulb ($9.83). I also picked up a pair of pliers from Target ($1.25, clearance) since I am away on temporary assignment and left all my tools in NC. I came back and pried out as many of the headlight case pieces as I could from the smashed in area around the front of the car.

I reconstructed the headlight as best I could, I felt like I was on a dinosaur excavation. I used the duct tape to put the pieces back together and then popped the new light bulb back in the headlight. I worked the reconstructed headlight back into the car as best I could and wedged it minimize the risk of it popping out.

While it is not a permanent solution - this was good enough to get the car back on the road till I could spend the right amount of time formulating my plan to make permanent repairs to the car.

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Comments (8)

DATE: 9:35 AM
WOW! that is a good repair job... You have a honda right? You can pick up fenders and hoods for those REAL cheap. You must have a junk yard around or a u pull it. With a few hand tools you can pull them yourself. And then maybe take them off and have the autobody repair man just fix your frame. Then you should have the repair man install them becuase you would have to line the hood up and the fender (it gets difficult)Maybe that could save you more money.

DATE: 9:56 AM
I have to agree, that is a pretty good repair job. The older the car the harder it is to spend money on it. Hopefully the 'proper' fix doesn't cost too much money

DATE: 11:15 AM
What you can't see are the gaping holes in the backside of the headlight from missing pieces.My car is a Nissan Sentra. I am debating whether I can straighten out the hood enough that I might be able to just buy a headlight, parklight, and straighten everything else out as best I can.

DATE: 5:02 PM
Remember if you do buy.. Purchase used parts!

DATE: 2:57 AM
$2m,sounds like you've found a short term solution - very impressive. good luck with an inexpensive replacement.regards,

DATE: 7:16 AM
hehe, great temp repair :)I agree with using used parts, can be much cheaper.

DATE: 7:09 PM
Wow, you did a great job! Isn't duct tape the best stuff ever?!?!Oh, and I never did congratulate you on your engagement. Congrats! As someone who has been married for 5 years and now the proud parent of 3 little expenses, well, it is an interesting ride.... and totally 100% worth it.Danielle

DATE: 2:46 PM
Doing car work oneself is one of the biggest way to save money. Check/call junk yards first and then check prices on the internet. Nine times out of ten, the actual work is elementary in difficulty.

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A personal finance weblog of my journey to reach my goal of $2 million + the value of my primary residence.
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