My wife informed me we were going to have a little girl. I was elated and then immediately saddened. The Jeep Wrangler ragtop was going to go to someone else’s barn — and I knew it.
I pulled the 2001 Wrangler Sport out of the stall and shortly realized that she would need some fresh lipstick. The vinyl windows were scratched and foggy, the window zippers were crusty, the fender flares were milky gray (normally shiny black), the left side fog lamp bulb was busted, as was the rear center break light bulb.
We rumbled on down to the local “busted knuckle” garage to get an estimate for a spa day. I was thinking a $340-$450. Then came the, “Yes, sir, thanks for waiting, all in your looking at $850.” I said, “I’ll get back with you.”
The light bulbs, easy peasy. They came in the mail (ordered at www.autoanything.com). I rustled up a couple screwdrivers, the always-elusive star bit and a wrench. It took about 30 minutes and some choice words. I saved $75 in labor and parts markup right there.
The vinyl windows priced at retail are expensive. Next stop, Craiglist.com (saw some on eBay too). Sure enough, there were plenty to choose from that fit my make and model. They weren’t perfect, but they were light years better than what I had. Paid $150 for the lightly used set and saved $200 off of the retail price and installation.
The plastic fender flare set for the Jeep was only $100 and change, but the installation cost of $150 was an awfully proud. I did some snooping online and low and behold there was an ingenious fender flare therapy right there on YouTube.com. It turns out a person can take a garden variety hardware store propane canister blow torch and wave it lightly over the plastic and the gray just melts away. It was not as good as new, but it qualified as fresh new lipstick indeed.
A little elbow grease, Internet snooping and some blowtorch artistry saved me a whopping $525. This does not even account for the wow factor that allowed me to dig my heals in deep and get the $7,700 asking price.