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Wow — $245 is nothing to sneeze at. This past Saturday morning I was greeted with one of those — ugh — moments: The car wouldn’t start. So I fished out my AAA card and a couple of hours later a truck showed up with the necessary cables and new batteries. Too bad it wasn’t my battery that was dead.

So the next day we had the car towed to the local foreign car dealer and service shop. Yesterday, while I choked down my lunch and checked voicemail messages, I learned that the car required a new starter for nearly a grand. Wow. That stinks. So I quickly went to RepairPal, a site we’ve profiled in the past (also see yesterday’s related post) and run by a guy who worked for me two decades ago.

Less than five minutes later, I was on the phone with the service manager talking about the starter replacement. I simply said, “hey, I’ve been on the Internet and it says that a starter replacement job for my make and model should run $600 to $800. What’s up with the estimate for a grand?”

He quickly turned sheepish and asked if he could call me back in five minutes. Sure enough, a few minutes later he called back and said, “gee, I can get you the part at wholesale and knock a few hours off the labor and do the whole job for $755.”

So with the tapping of a few key strokes, I was able to use the power of the Internet to create some transparency and knock 25 percent off the quoted price. I can think of a few better ways to use 245 bucks; what about you?

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