How to reduce an auto repair from around $90 to $35

Be patient,  this is a bit of a shaggy dog story.

Last night as I was passing through H after getting off the Mid-hudson Bridge, an enthusiastic policeman pulled me over, lights flashing so brightly I couldn’t see. After asking me if I had any unpaid tickets (which, mercifully, i do not) and running a license check, he determined that I had a  right front headlight and rear right break light out.  I was given a ticket which could be rescinded if repairs were made within 24 hours.

The next morning I went to a tire shop on N Plank Road. They estimated a $90 charge and there was talk of having to remove a fender to get at the light. $90 seemed very steep and I also wondered if my Subaru Forester had such a poor design. I mean, bulbs go out all the time-why should it be so hard to reach the bulb? After a few moments, I decided to get a second opinion. At the auto parts store, the female cashier sold me the bulb for the front light for about $16 and demonstrated how to change the bulb in 5 minutes. They were out of the rear bulb.

I then went to the muffler shop to see if they provided additional services. They said the bulb was $13 and would not charge labor if the change was easy. 15 minutes later, the new bulb was in and my car was certified repaired for $13.

I did buy the woman a latte but the total cost came to around $35 – a far cry from $90.

All of which is to say: comparison shop, even if it is only one other provider and you are in a

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