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We recently bought a new car and I’m interested in increasing the cargo capacity. Remember, we have four (rapidly) growing boys, so space is at a premium. As it turns out, this particular vehicle doesn’t come from the factory with roof rails installed, but you can get them as a dealer add-on.
Not surprisingly, if you have the dealer install them, you’ll pay a premium. Yes, you can typically negotiate these sorts of add-ons, but I prefer to keep the actually vehicle purchase as simple and straightforward as possible. So how much will it cost to have the rails added after the fact? Roughly $420. Yes, really.
This includes $210 for the rails and $210 for the installation. As it turns out, we can buy original Honda rails online for about $165 and the installation is pretty straightforward. I’ll need a few extra tools, but even if I have to buy these new, I’ll come out ahead — and I’ll have the tools for future projects.
If I follow the instructions to a T, I’ll need an air saw (around $80 from Amazon) for cutting a couple pieces of trim, a couple of Torx screwdrivers (around $20 total), and a trim tool for popping of said pieces of trim (around $10).
So, ignoring the fact that I could get by with a hack saw (instead of the air saw) and my hands (instead of the trim tool), I’m looking at roughly $110 in tools to do the job. So I’m looking at saving right around $140 (on parts + labor) by doing it myself — plus I’ll have those tools for future jobs. Even if I bought the parts online and paid the dealer just for the install, I’m still nearly $100 ahead (not counting the tools I get to keep).
Sure, but what about the value of my time? Well, having skimmed through the install instructions and watched a YouTube video showing how its done, it should take me 30-45 minutes tops. Considering that it would take longer than that to drive to the dealer, check the vehicle in, pay once the work is done, and drive back home (and that’s assuming I don’t wait around while they work) I’m actually coming out ahead time-wise.
It’s a no brainer, right? So why don’t more people do things like this for themselves? I think it’s mostly due to a combination of laziness and fear. People don’t want to be troubled and would rather spend half a day driving around and waiting so someone else to do the work instead of doing it themselves.
Add to that the fact that many (if not most) people are intimidated by anything remotely mechanical and you have a recipe for paying someone else to do just about everything. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it pays to hire a pro, and you need to know your limits. That said, there are tons of seemingly complex things that the average Joe (or Jane) can do themselves without professional help.
And the best part is that the more of these projects that you tackle, the more tools you’ll have on hand and the more comfortable you’ll be doing even more complex things in the future. So the next time you need something done, stop for a moment and at least consider doing it yourself. If you’re not sure, do a bit of research — YouTube can be a great source of how-to videos. You might be surprised to learn that it’s easier than you thought.