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Auto repair- too expensive

Hello guys,

I live in North east and recently went to a vw showroom for a brake problem on my car. It was giving a sqeaking noise. They made me wait for 2 hours and charged me $350. It was shocking to see the bill. I just want to ask you guys, will that really cost so much like 350 bucks? Are there alternate ways to get my car fixed for cheap? Does someone know of any service who comes to the customers destination and fix the car?

Any advice is much appreciated.


It could, what was fixed and where in the northeast are you? Keep in mind that 350 covers labor and parts

Learn how to do it yourself (DIY). I’ve saved a ton of money on brake jobs learning how to do them myself

I don’t know of any around me (South Central PA), but it doesn’t mean they don’t exist

Assuming by “vw showroom” you meant a VW dealer, that explains a lot. The dealer surely has a labor rate of well over $100/billed hour. I don’t know what these brake problems were. But if you had brake rotors and pads replaced, I can easily see a high bill

Of course

Independent shops have a lower labor rate, often substantially lower. The parts also cost less, since aftermarket parts won’t have the VW logo on the box.

A good middle ground might be an independent shop that specializes in VW and Audi

Mind telling us what the problems were, and what the shop did to resolve them?

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Thanks so much for the response. I live in Philadelphia. I am little scared to try fixing my self but I will try.

Without this information it’s impossible to offer an opinion. $350 may just be a great deal, depending on what they did.

If fixing your car is something you’re not comfortable with, you might be better off to just find a reputable independently owned and operated shop and let them do it. Fixing it yourself requires an investment in tools and equipment as well as the place to do it. It might not be a good investment for you. Especially if you’re a college student living in a dorm where fixing the car in the parking lot is prohibited and your time is better spent on your studies.

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Read the bill and tell us what they did. I live near Baltimore/DC, and prices should be similar. $350 doesn’t sound like a lot for dealer work, but it depends what they did. Your bill tells what the work was.

Appreciate your response. When I tried to apply the brakes, it used to take a longer than usual to slow down the car. It gave a schreeching / sqeaking noise.
But can we trust the service in the independent shops? How do we know that the independent mechanics do the job well?
If you have an idea, how likely does after market parts not work properly?

Ask everyone you know who they use for auto repairs. Eventually, you will have a few shop names with multiple good reviews. They one of those places.

Sounds like perfectly normal worn out brakes. For $350, my guess is that he did a brake job on the end of the car on which the brakes were worn out. $350 is a perfectly normal cost for this work. What with labor costs, utilities costs, insurance, disposables, etc. etc. etc. being as high as they are these days, shop time has gotten expensive, and parts have continued to rise too… largely I believe because shipping costs today are outrageous.

A actual opinion can’t be made without seeing the invoice . But 2 hours for what may have been brake pads and rotors is a normal amount of time . The 350.00 charge sounds reasonable too.

Please post the repair statement.

I’ve used Yelp successfully to find repair shops in new towns, search for ‘VW repair’.

As for do it yourself, with brakes, if you don’t know, have a pro do it.

VWs aren’t cheap to buy, cheap to maintain, or cheap to repair.

A dealership service department is usually the most expensive place to have any work done.

Based on those two criteria, $350 is about what I’d expect to pay for a brake job, especially if it was done on all four wheels and included a complete flush and replacement of the brake fluid.

If you’re going to try doing your own brake work, don’t do your first brake job alone. Make sure you have a knowledgeable friend who can guide you through the job.

The others already have the rest of your comments in hand. As to mobile mechanics, they do exist, but a lot of them are uninsured “side job” types that may or may not do the work right. Really, mechanics need to be working out of a shop. Some of the tools they use are big, not to mention that they have a lot of tools. Unless they’re rolling up in a box truck, there isn’t enough space on a pickup truck to cover all the bases for car repair.

Plus there’s the whole “lack of a lift” thing which means they’re crawling around in the dirt like us shadetrees, and that not only is more uncomfortable, but also slower which lowers the number of jobs they can do in a day.

As the old saying tells us, The Devil is in the Details, and despite requests from several forum members for the actual details of the repairs, you have failed to provide those details. As a result, none of us have a clue as to what type of work was actually done on your car.

So, if they merely dusted-off the brakes with compressed air, then a charge of $350 was massively excessive, as was a wait of 2 hours. On the other hand, if–as I suspect–the brake pads were replaced and the brake rotors were machined, then the cost is completely within the expected range of costs for that type of work, as is the time spent waiting.

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I don’t know of a shop that still turns/machines brake rotors anymore.

This is for two reasons. The first is, a shop wants quick turn-around-time when doing a brake jobs. Turning /machining brake rotors takes time which ties up a bay.

The second is, turning/machining brake rotors can result in come-backs. And the last thing a shop wants to do is free brake job because the rotor(s) warped.


Most people don’t repair their own cars, so don’t think that’s what you have to do to save money. You can save some money that way, but at the cost of your personal time and a lot of hard, grubby work. Plus, there’s a pretty steep learning curve and tools cost curve. Folks who fix their own cars like to do it for the challenge, to learn about something new, and a change of pace from their daily desk work, it’s a hobby, that’s the main reason, not to save money. I’m not sure what the VW dealership shop did for $350, but even if all they did was change the front pads, that’s a fair price. You won’t be paying much less elsewhere. In general though imo you’re be better off $$$-wise if your car is old enough to be out of warranty to have your work done at an independent shop that specializes in VW or at least German cars rather than a dealership. May not be the case in all areas, but in most urban areas it is in my own experience. Adjust your budget to plan for around $100 per month on average in car repair and maintenance.

Here in Silicon Valley there are such services. The ones I’m familiar with don’t come to you home, but the come to your place of work. It’s usually arranged by your employer, and the employer lets you know when the repair guys are coming and you make an appointment with them, and they (try to) fix or do routine maintenance on your car in the parking lot while you do your own work inside the office. Some companies here pay part or all of the bill I think, as a benefit to their employees. Sort of like the free food and soda Silicon Valley benefit, only for cars. My suggestion wouldn’t be to use that sort of parking lot service for anything other than routine maintenance, like changing the oil, replacing the coolant, stuff like that. Leave the more complicated jobs to a well recommended repair shop having the necessary tools, equipment, and knowledge.

The third is that replacing the rotors is generally cheaper than “turning” them. Tying up the bay for the time it takes to turn the rotors at today’s prices adds up fast. The days of cheap labor and bay costs are gone forever.

It just ain’t worth it to turn them anymore.

Another reason for not turning rotors on newer cars is b/c the new car rotors don’t have much material beyond what’s absolutely needed. Done to save weight & improve performance and mpg presumably. Removing enough material to true them up would make them too thin to safely re-use.

Our brake lathe is used 10 times a day. It takes about ten minutes to machine each rotor, replacement rotors cost the customer $100 each unless your selling them at wholesale prices.

Do you stock rotors for all cars or wait for them to be delivered?