Frugal twist on car repair: Buy auto parts for your mechanic. Four tips from a pro.

Car repair -- just like other aspects of car ownership -- is getting expensive. So car owners are getting creative in driving down car repair costs. One way is that they buy their own auto parts. That's no surprise for do-it-yourselfers. But even people who don't do their own maintenance are buying parts and taking them to their mechanic or repair shop for installation. The trend appears to be growing. An October 2010 survey by my company,, found that 90 percent of car owners (who rely on mechanics) would buy their own auto parts and take them to the repair shop if they could save money. Here are four tips to do it the right way:

1. Check with the repair shop before purchasing the part

Craig Ruttle / AP / File
Stewart Stogel of Mt. Vernon, N.Y. speaks about the problems with his 2009 Toyota Camry while sitting in a parking lot in New Rochelle, N.Y. Wednesday, March 3, 2010. Sometimes, if a new part is needed for a fix, customers can save money by buying the part for a mechanic to install.

Most repair shops and dealerships make a profit on the parts they use in a repair. The good news for consumers is that more and more shops are willing to install parts purchased elsewhere. A recent phone survey of more than 125,000 repair shops revealed that nearly half were willing to install parts brought in by customers.

But, be sure to check with your shop before purchasing your part. And keep in mind that most shops will only guarantee labor if they make a mistake, not if the part fails or is defective in some way. Ask what the policy is before you commit.

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