Don't you hate it when you end up getting stuck, with your car inoperative for a week while you wait for a replacement part to arrive? The solution: be a parts hoarder!
A lot of what I know about cars, I learned from my father – he's a mechanical engineer, a true petrolhead, and all-around great guy. One of the many lessons that I learned from him was to keep a parts stash – not every single possible thing, but a collection of those hard to find, but failure-prone, items that could easily leave you stranded while you wait for a replacement.
One occasion that sticks in my mind was in the Triumph 2500 that served as family transport for many years. A bearing failed in the distributor, chewing up the cap and rotor arm, and leaving us stranded on the highway. Nonchalantly, he dug into the spare wheel well, pulled out a replacement distributor, installed it, timed it 'by ear', and we were on our way. This may well be a somewhat extreme case, but since then, I have always kept a comprehensive toolkit, and a few spares, in every car I have owned.
When I bought my 850R, one of the first things that I did was find an accident-damaged junkyard car to make a parts stash from. It cost me all of $20 for a full set of engine sensors, relays, ignition components and the like. Today, that preparation paid off when a dead cam position sensor left me stranded. I didn't have the part with me, so I ended up getting towed home, but having a replacement right there, rather than having to wait for one to be delivered, was a lifesaver.
Keeping a few vital parts on hand is cheap insurance against unexpected breakdowns, and I wholeheartedly recommend it, especially for those of us that own older, more cantankerous cars. What kinds of things do you keep in your parts stash?