2013 Honda CR-V - Why the expensive diagnosis fee?

Why is it that many repair shope charge a “diagnosis free” that usually adds $100-150 to the cost af a repair? Seems like a junk fee to me just adding to profits. I can see a small charge for evaluating a problem but these seem excessive. Don Lacy

With so many vehicles having some kind of computer controls vehicle repair is not that simple . They also want to keep the return problems as low as they can . maybe you should see what it costs to have shop testing equipment and then you might understand the diagnostic fees .


I just did a basic diag on a 09 vehicle with a transmission code, in order to properly diag the issue it required the use of a $6,000 scanner and a transaxle jumper harness (most places are $200 and up) just to do a few checks that a DIYer scanner can not do, plus it had wiring diagrams and pin outs for the connecters for testing, the code was for one part, but the real problem was a totally different part… The diag time did not take that long, but it took some very expensive tools to find the real problem…

So how much would you think a shop should charge to use $5,000 to over $10,000+ worth of tools to check out any given vehicle, not to mention the mechanic has to have the training and knowledge to even be able to check out the issue??


Auto repair shop’s have to charge a pretty high labor rate to compensate for the time they aren’t able to bill. Waiting for something is a common cause for non-bill-able time. Many repair shops in this area bill at nearly $300/hour. As most any diagnosis is going to take 1/2 hour, the fee seems reasonable. If you feel it is too expensive, you can ask the fee be waived entirely, or applied to the shop’s repair bill presuming you hire the shop to do the repair. And of course you have more than one shop to choose from. Don’t hesitate to ask the shop beforehand what their fees are, and don’t hesitate to ask for a discount. The worse they can say in “no”, and they have incentive to negotiate w/you, b/c they know if you like their work and fees you’ll be more likely come back to them the next time your car breaks. Tom and Ray used to say on their radio program that bringing in a box of donuts as a “gift” for the techs never hurts :wink:

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The shop can bundle the diagnosis cost into the repair quote or break it out separately. Either way, you’re paying for that service as it’s a necessary part of doing repairs…Sometimes, shop’s will credit the diagnostic fee if you have them do the work. They charge up front because oftentimes unscrupulous customers get the repair quote after diagnosis and then either go elsewhere for the repair or do it themselves. The shop is out the cost of doing the diagnosis…


Because cars are very complicated with 12, 15, or 20 computers to run them. The time it takes to diagnose the correct fault is worth the $150. Guessing can mean throwing $1000 worth of work at the car and not fix it.

It also eliminates the people who bring in the car, the mechanic spends their time diagnosing the problem and then take it to another shop or try and fix it themselves. Mechanics have to eat too, you know.

Would you argue the same thing visiting your doctor? You (or your insurance company) pays them $200 to poke and prod you and order some tests which cost more money before anyone figures out what is wrong with you.


All too often, we have posts on this site from DIY people who have randomly thrown multiple parts at a problem, only to find that the problem remained. Then, they were “out” the money for the previous parts, plus the correct one that they eventually installed.

Similarly, when my father was very old, he complained to me that his doctors always wanted to do diagnostic tests before they would prescribe medications, and he asked me to find him a doctor who would write prescriptions without running tests.

I asked him, “Dad, if you want a doctor to just start randomly paging through the US Pharmacopeia directory, you will wind up taking a lot more medications needlessly, and that will only delay the presribing of the proper medication”. Thankfully, that brought this issue into sharper focus for him.


What a brilliant idea! You should not have to pay for a highly-trained technician to spend his time, and use his expensive diagnostic tools (purchased at his own expense) to find the problem. He should work for free, since the business owner cannot offer any wages if the customer isn’t being charged. And of course, if the customer declines the repair, parts are no longer available, or the problem cannot be repaired, then I guess the technician just works for free.

I’m sure whatever you do for a living, you’d cheerfully do for free, right? Especially if it’s something which actually costs money to do, money which comes out of your own pocket?

I work in HVAC, and we charge for diagnostic time, because I (the technician) need to be paid my wages for that time. Some companies (which I would NEVER agree to work for) advertise a “free” service call or “no diagnostic charge”, but all they are doing is cost-shifting the risk that the customer doesn’t buy anything onto the employee, aka wage theft.

Under this arrangement, the worker isn’t paid an hourly wage. Instead, he’s paid straight commission. So if the customer opts to do the repair, or buys a new system, then the technician makes money. If the customer balks at the price and chooses a competitor or DIY solution, then the technician just worked for free. I cannot afford to work for free, and I refuse to support wage theft, and cost-shifting of risk onto the individual worker. Am I to take it that you support these things?


That applies to giving discounts without coupons that the company puts out, just asking for a discount or reduced rate is the same thing as your company asking you to work that day for less than your normal agreed pay rate, you would sue the crap out of them, but yet those same people will ask for a discount with no real thought as to who all that affects…

Now we used to know some of the customers that always asked for discounts and would pad the price a little (when the POS OP system would still allow it) before giving them the price and then them asking for a discount so the final price would be discounted but not as much as they thought… lol… Basically give them a 5% instead of a 10-20% that they wanted on the service…

Heck we even had a certain ethnic group of customers that only bought the least expensive tire we offered and always wanted 25% off, so I would mark the price of the tires and then discount them 25% and they were happy and we made the same as with no discount… BTW it was a mechanic of the same ethnic group that told me how to deal with his people… lol…


I have found coming up with a correct diagnosis to be the most important part of the whole project. I’m happy to pay for it.


Actually 100-150 is a pretty small diagnostic fee. What they told me under warranty, they’ll eat fee, otherwise I pay. I had the same thing with my patio doors. Their fault they pay, my fault I pay.

If you go in for an X-ray or mri as diagnostic, you don’t expect to get it free. Labor and equipment needs to be paid for.


IMO, $100-$150 is a “small charge”. Our plumber came out to diagnose an issue with our boiler heat this past week. They charge a $135 service call just to come out.

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The only time I had to call a plumber was to re-do the drain pipes on my kitchen sink. Worked about an hour cutting and gluing. Total bill was $134, but before the economic bust. Even with an extra hundred or two, I thought it was quite reasonable. I asked him if he wanted all the extra parts I bought trying to do it myself and he said no.

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Depending on the issue we’ve paid more than that in labor for a diagnostic but it’s usually folded into the labor cost of the repair. Our local Honda dealer told dad that it would be a $160 diagnostic fee back around 2010 before they’d even discuss the cost. Our beloved longtime mechanic had the repair done quickly and I’m quite sure did the repair at a loss to satisfy a loyal customer. It may depend on your history with the repair shop though.

A few months ago had a HVAC actuator start to fail on my truck. When I took it in, more out of curiosity, I asked what the current diagnostic fee was, now $190. But I was not charged the fee.

Medical diagnosis: ever look at your EOB (explanation of benefits)?
Try looking at it if you go to an emergency room, or an MRI at a stand alone facility. The techs operating the MRI may only be making $25 an hour, but the machine costs millions.
Ever read a news article stating “a simple blood test”? Techs $25/hour, instruments hundreds of thousands, reagents hundreds, quality controls, hundreds.
Then there is Robert’s emergency blood product runs. People will complain about the cost of a transfusion, “blood donors donate for free”, totally ignoring how much it costs to process the donor blood, then cross match the recipient with the donor’s blood. Blood bank refrigerator is a lot different than the kenmore in your kitchen.

Okay, rant over☹️


Do you know why you were not charged the fee? That info might help w/ the OP’s negotiations with the shop.

IMO when the diagnostic fee is waived after the sop makes the repair it might be because the issue was found immediately and they proceeded to make the repair. If the first guess is right and it takes a few minutes to determine a course of action, why charge $150? The shop gets paid for the repair anyway. It seems to me that’s good customer service and generates return business.


I don’t know. Itemized repair charge did not show diagnostic fee.
Likely because they did the repair.

It has been posted here on this site many times that some shops will waive the diagnostic fee if they get the repair .


I believe that this is done to prevent situations where free-loaders avail themselves of a free diagnosis, and then choose to do the repairs themselves, or at a different facility. Ergo–charge everyone for the diagnostic procedures, and then waive the fee if the customer has the repairs done at that facility.