Repair Stories

6 DIY Repairs Saved These Fixers Over $4000

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Fixing things yourself saves you money. But how much money? We heard recently from six fixers who got quotes from repair professionals before deciding to crack open their devices themselves.

And together, these six DIY repair folks saved over $4000. That’s enough to buy all six of them a new 64 GB iPad—or one Nintendo controller coffee table. Here are their stories:

1. “I was so nervous”: $30 Saved

Mona’s husband heard the sickening crunch of glass when his iPhone 5 slipped out of his pocket and onto the unforgiving sidewalk. Luckily, he has a handy wife: Mona first took the phone to a repair shop, which would have charged her $90. Instead, she saved $30 and did it herself. “I was so nervous,” she said, “but the repair went better than expected.”

2. “I was very proud of me”: $150 Saved

When micdes77’s MacBook Air trackpad broke, a repair shop told him they’d need to replace the top case, for about $250. He thought it sounded strange that they needed to change out the keyboard and everything else, too—and he found iFixit in the hunt for a more localized fix. Sure enough, he was able to buy just the trackpad and replace it himself. “I had a great time doing the work,” he said. “I was very proud of me.”

DIY repair of a MacBook trackpad
Just the trackpad, ma’am

3. “I am the clumsiest man alive”: $210 Saved

Vanmunt loves his PlayStation Vita. But one day, the right joystick stopped responding correctly. “I phoned several UK console repair companies and the general reply was to throw it away and buy a new one,” he explained. The Sony repair center told him that he could buy a reconditioned unit for £140, which is about $180. Instead, he found the stick on iFixit for under $10 and did the repair himself. It wasn’t hard: “The fix took me literally 10 minutes and I am the clumsiest man alive.”

4. “I am now looking forward to the next replacement/upgrade!”: $300 Saved

Behzad’s daughter started complaining recently that her 13” MacBook Pro wasn’t responding, and the hard drive began clicking ominously. A local shop gave them a $450 quote for replacing the drive. Behzad thought he could do better—and he did. He bought the replacement kit from iFixit and outfitted his daughter’s MacBook with a new 1 TB hybrid drive. “For most people,” he says, “a repair of this sort no longer mandates a visit to the repair shop or Genius Bar. With reasonable dexterity (the screws are very small) and patience, you can upgrade your hard drive for a fraction of the cost of a service call.”

5. “They said she should buy a new computer”: $650 Saved

Bruce’s wife had a MacBook Air that wouldn’t charge. They took it to an Apple Genius Bar, where a Genius insisted the computer was water damaged and asked for $750 to repair it. Bruce was incredulous—and has the experience to back it up: “I have taught Electrical Engineering for 30 years and I know water damage when I see it and there was no damage here.” He took the laptop home, bought a battery, and replaced it himself. The laptop is back in action for $650 less than the Apple estimate.

6. “Cuts in Federal government spending forced me to get ‘fixy’”: $2960 Saved

David Wood works in a government lab that uses a mass spectrometer, a device that measures the mass and concentration of molecules. When the spectrometer’s smart card failed, he got a quote for a service call—a whopping $4000. Since his lab couldn’t afford it, David says, “I had to replace the $1040 board myself.” It was a finicky job, but having the right tools made it go smoothly.

We’re advocates of repair for a lot of reasons: it’s good for the environment, keeps stuff out of landfills, and saves you money. Don’t get us wrong—we love local repair businesses. But doing it yourself can save you even more money over the cost of a professional repair.

Plus, there’s some real satisfaction in knowing that you did it all on your own.