Car repair: what do you figure this will cost me?

My wife and I each have our own car and we have a “beater” car. I drive the beater in the winter as it’s a 4x4 and my Mustang GT is not a good winter car.

The beater is a 2003 Suzuki Vitara with a little over 100K. The body is banged up from a snow plow hitting it, the interior is rough. But the engine runs great and I expect to get another 100K out of it.

Water got into the sealed lens of the left tail light, and the socket for the tail/brake light got corroded. Thus, the light doesn’t work.
I tried cleaning out the corrosion and such to no avail. This will have to be repaired by rewiring a new socket onto the wires.

It’s not something I’d feel comfortable doing myself. Any idea what this could cost? I’d rather take it to a Joe Mechanic at a corner garage than get F**cked like the only woman on a pirate ship by going to a dealer.

It would be an excellent idea to take it to a corner garage. Unlike the dealer, Joe’s Garage can get used parts (assuming Zappa isn’t jamming in there) and this problem can be solved for pretty cheap with a used lens and sockets and a couple bucks worth of wiring connectors (your value for “pretty cheap” will vary with local labor rates and junkyard prices, but probably less than $100).

Because of the age and sparsity of the vehicle, you could search online for used parts. There are many sites. You essentially search a bunch of junk yards that list their parts. Get the whole assembly shipped to you. Then shop for a place that will install it. Connecting wires to it is a ten minute job once disassembled. One guy might charge $300 and another down the street would charge $50. I would favor checking prices at bump shops. These people know how to replace a light assembly faster than a mechanic who does it rarely. Some bump shops specialize in taking in small jobs and others would refuse such work. Your best tool is your checkbook and telephone.

Replacement light sockets are cheap and most are readily available and your local autoparts store. If you have taken the socket apart to clean it you already possess most of the skills you need to fix it yourself.

All you need are a couple electrical connectors and you match the wires one at a time, cut, connect, re-install. Should cost about $20 or less. You might need to buy a wire cutter/crimper tool for a few more dollars.

Plan B, if simply swapping the bad socket doesn’t work out would be to try finding the taillight assembly at a “pick-your-part” self-serve junkyard. If, and with something fairly scarce like a Suzuki, it’s a big if, they have one, you can probably get the whole unit for $7 - 20, depending on size.

I’m not seeing the tail light socket as a replacement part with a quick search. Two types of head light sockets for $3 to $12 but no tail light socket.

If the socket is not detachable from the tail light assembly then you may need to replace the whole assembly. If this is the case then I would go with gotpasswords Plan B.

New tail light assembly replacements are going for $50 to $100 on line.