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Air filter for 24.50?

My Daughter took her 2012 Dodge Avenger to an get an oil change using a groupon. She has been there before with no issue but this time they replaced the air filter and charged her $24.50. When I called about it they said they used only premium air filters and plus the labor that’s how they came up with that price. I say she was way over charged based on pricing air filters online.

Thanks for your feedback!

Brian in MI

Which air filter did they change, the engine air filter or the cabin air filter? The engine air filter is usually good for 30k miles where the cabin air filter is usually 15k miles. Cabin air filters are way, way, way overpriced and $24.50 would have been a bargain compared to what many other shops charge. For an engine filter, that sounds about right.

Did she authorize them to replace the air filter? And let me guess, she took it to Jiffy Lube or a similar chain quick oil change joint?

I agree that $25 is a very high price for the air filter in her car. That’s about a $10 filter. The extra $15 was markup on the air filter, plus a labor charge. People will not work for free, and they will also look to make a profit on the parts they sell. Chain quick-change shops are well known for… Shall we say, oversized markups, and also for suggesting work that does not actually need to be done (not to mention shoddy work that can and has damaged cars), and therefore these shops should be avoided even if she has a groupon.

The bottom line, though is that if she thinks the price is too high, then she should replace her own air filter to save money.

Just my opinion.

Who performed the services? A quick-lube place? What was the bottom line for her oil and filters change?

A lesson well learned.

Must be a 4 cylinder model.

It was at a Tire Giant and yes it was the engine air filter. Yes I am going to change it for her from now on! Thanks for all the replies!


Upselling so-called “premium” filters is where they make their money. That’s one high margin item. The groupon oil change was probably a loss leader.

I pay close to $30 for my Honda brand filters on line and I think the Pontiac AC one is close to $20.

That’s about $10 for the filter and $14.50 for labor. The price is reasonable for someone else to do it, but you can easily do it, too.

The price sounds more than fair and you simply cannot compare that price to the price of a filter on-line even if any labor factor was omitted.

NAPA shows their Gold filter for this car is about 25 bucks just for the filter alone.

I would assume this filter was not replaced without her authorization first.

I happened to go to WalMart today so I took a quick look. For a 4 cylinder, the regular Fram was about $7, the premium Fram was about $12.

If it’s the 6 cylinder, even RockAuto sells it for $24.99.

Suppose the OP’s daughter’s repair place did buy it for $7 or $12. They used their money to buy it and are entitled to a mark up.

So I think the price is fair but I also think the OP can learn to change it herself.

One can also walk into a grocery store and buy a steak for far less than what any restaurant would charge for handing you the same steak from the same supplier.

A chain type facility may get away with 14.50 labor (no matter how easy the job is) but an independent shop or dealer is going to suffer if they charge the same amount.
The mechanic working flat rate is really going to get hosed at that amount.

I don’t see anything particularly wrong with the price. Everything is cheaper if you do it yourself.

Online pricing is completely irrelevant to what goes on in an auto service center. “Ms. Jones, your air filter is dirty. We’ll order one from rockauto and you can pick up your car in 3-5 days when the part arrives.”

As for the groupon use, that’s a big red flag. When you use a coupon, you’ve been enticed to come in the door based on a discounted service. From the moment you walk in the businesses’ goal is not only to upsell you but to recoup the loss they incurred by selling you something at a lower price than they can sustain. Why don’t more people understand that?

The price seems ok to me. I think your economic analysis may be slightly faulty. Instead of pricing out air filters at parts places, better to ask a few other shops in town what they’d charge to do the same thing. And you always have the option of doing it yourself in the future.

@ok4450 How would a mechanic get hosed for charging $14.50 in labor for what’s a 5 minute job at most?

Because the mechanic is not going to get most of that 14.50. To use some easier to figure numbers consider the following.
The shop has a 100 dollar per flat rate hour labor rate.
The shop charges .2 hours (12 minutes) for a filter change which means 20 dollars total labor charged by the shop.
The mechanic makes 25 per flat rate hour let’s say.
The mechanic gets .2 hours for that air filter job which means the mechanic earns 5 bucks for performing that service.

That .2 hours includes flagging in on the job, finding the car in the lot, bringing it into the shop, standing at the parts counter waiting…, installing the filter, running the car back out, flagging off the job, and turning in the paperwork.

There’s more time spent on the bureaucracy than the actual job itself.

One time I went to work for a large multi-line dealer and several mechanics there told me the first day that my biggest problem was actually getting someone in the parts department to hand a part over. They were right.
Seven people in the parts department and getting an oil filter and 5 quarts of oil was a 15-20 minute job by itself. Oil changes paid .2 hours so the mechanic is in the red before even leaving the parts counter.

Remember that the shop, to do this job, has to first (1) order the filter; (2) store the filter where they can find it among all the other filters; (3) greet the customer and determine what car she has and what service is needed; (4) write up the invoice; (5) find the filter; (6) install it; (7) visually inspect the job to make sure it is done correctly, nothing is loose, no wrenches left in the engine compartment; (8) find the keys and the customer and give the keys back to the customer; (9) absorb the cost when something goes wrong in all this process.

Yeah at Rock the Fram is about $4 and the Mopar $20. Guess you get what you pay for but if the car is still under warranty, I wonder if the Walmart quality Fram would meet warranty requirements. I only use OEM on cars still under factory warranty. Why raise issues for something done only every 20,000 miles?