Tracking down cheap or free: Part 2

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  As the economy worsens, people are more likely to repair items than replace them. That means getting more miles out of an old car or fixing that old air conditioner.

It's cheaper than replacing them, but still costly. But not if you know where to look. What If you could replace the brakes for the cost of parts, or get your body work done for two-thirds the typical cost? The only catch: it's going to cost you more time. But is worth it?

Ever looked at the bill after you get the car fixed, sometime the largest cost is the labor to do the work. What if the labor was free, for the opportunity to do the job?

"We need customers to trust us, to bring their vehicles in so our students can learn, we use it as a teaching tool so that these students when they graduate in a year and half they get hired by our local dealerships then they're qualified to do the work," said Lynn Tanner, Moultrie Technical College Mechanics Instructor.

In these tough economic times people from as far as Tallahassee trust Moultrie Technical College's 35 auto mechanic students can handle the job.

"Behind us in the white truck, we're working on the fuel system, we're working on a jeep air conditioning system today, we're doing brakes, we're doing steering, putting rack and pinion in one," said Tanner.

While students can handle the variety of problems at a significantly lower cost, it will cost you time to get the job done.

"You go downtown your brakes might get it done in an hour to two hours, we're going to have it all day," said Tanner.

In the body shop if you're willing to wait, you can get the dents buffed out and the vehicle repainted whether it's a 1957 Chevy or a 2008 Volkswagen Beetle.

"We get about three hours of work a day out of our students so if you say it's going to be in a body shop for two weeks then probably triple that here, a little but longer, but they do good work," said William Segers, Moultrie Technical College Collision Repair Instructor.

The shop has a state of the art Dupont water born paint system, the paint job will cost you about half what you'd pay at a body shop.

"The older models give them a lot of experience as far as welding and fixing stuff and the newer models keep them up to date on computer stuff," said Segers.

If you're willing to haul in a small window air conditioning unit or the super unit to your home, the heating and air conditioning class will fix it if they can.

"We can look at the book and cover this stuff but until you actually get out here and do it you really don't know how to do it," said Lavon Miller, Moultrie Technical College Heating & Air Conditioning Repair Instructor.

Again for the cost of parts, because the experience is invaluable.

"There are a lot of things that they'll encounter that I can't simulate here in the shop so we do a lot of inside work, a lot of outside work as well," said Miller.

So if you've got the time and can put your trust in novice who is training to become a pro, you can get the job done, and get a great deal.

Mechanic services are not the only deals around. You can also find reduced prices for luxuries that are typically cut during tough times, like facials, hair cuts, or dental services.

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