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Prices Soaring For High-Tech Car Parts

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a trend auto body shop owners across the country are seeing right now. Ordinary car parts that used to cost a few dollars to replace can now cost hundreds.

To make matters worse, it’s almost that time of year where streets become ice rinks and fender benders are a daily occurrence. It’s the season where small items, like mirrors and even headlights, are smashed and need to be replaced.

Paul Hagan owns Hagan Auto Body in Minneapolis.

“Just a few weeks ago, I had a Mercedes in here and for the labor and the cost and the painting of the mirror, it was over $2,000 dollars,” Hagan said.

Hagan says the price to replace a mirror depends on the make and model of the vehicle.

“This mirror was actually broken right off the car. It’s about a $60 mirror. Fairly simple to install. Takes about a half hour. Labor (is) $40-$50 dollars at the most,” Hagan said.

That’s for a Ford. Try and replace the mirror on a Volkswagon and the price more than triples.

“Not only does it have the movement of the glass which actually has a heated mirror on the inside and it also has an indicator light sometimes in the $3(00) to $400 range.”

Of course, it’s not just mirrors that are costly to replace.

Bump something and break a headlight and you’ll quickly learn it too is costly to replace. Lights on newer cars are high intensity.

“A bulb for them can sometimes be up to $3(00) or $400 just for the bulb. Nothing more than just the bulb you put in the headlight,” Hagan said.

It’s because automakers are packing more technology into even mundane parts. An ordinary part can now contain sensors, computer chips, heaters or other features.

The result: more convenience and safety. The downfall: the price to replace or fix when it breaks.

Hagan says most shops will try and find used parts to cut cost but in most cases those too are hard to find. The only way to avoid high prices is to skip the latest gadgets. The more technology you have, the more there is to break.

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