Car labor charge guides

Just curious if there is a minimum charge built in. Decided to get a fuel filter replaced with my oil change for my 03 Trailblazer with a 4.2 6 cyl. My mechanics go by whatever guide and called it .5 hour of labor. I have always done the gas filter myself, but due to weather and family issues figured what the heck, do it with the oil change. The filter has 2 quick connect clips and goes into a snap in housing. Well I complained a bit and they double checked the labor charge, said yup that is what the book says, tell you what, we noted this time you have a leaking strut and can give you a free oil change or 10% off on a new pair of struts and alignment. So I have no complaint at this point, but looking for insight. Thanks.

It depends on the relationship you have with your mechanic.

I just had a longtime customer come in with their 98 Accord with a noise from the front end. Upon inspection it was found that one of the stabilizer bar end link bushings were totally gone.

I told them, if you run to the parts store while I take the old links out and get replacement links, I’ll replace them for the cost of my arthritis medicine.

My arthritis medicine?

A bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey.

And they bought me the BIG bottle!


Thanks for the response, @Tester all works out well in the long run. Just wondering about a minimum for any repair in the guides, me thinks it is due to a solo job, rather than the vehicle is already being lifted for say an oil change. Jameson is cool, I was a Dewars guy until the 10 year old started kicking my but. Home brewing now for beer, or buying wine. Not tough enough any more to deal with the hard stuff, getting closer to being a monk every day :frowning:

If the Trailblazer is parked at the service entrance when the mechanic is given the work order how much time will the mechanic spend to move the vehicle onto a lift, lift it, remove the old filter and walk to the parts counter and get the new filter then return to the vehcle, install the new filter, start the engine and check for leaks, then move the vehicle to the ready line? Of course your vehicle was on the lift for an oil change but that work is usually priced at cost or even possibly a loss in hopes that the customer will get the fuel filter replaced.

If an auto service repair shop is using a labor charge guide it makes me feel better about the charges. I at least know they are trying to be fair to all of their customers and not trying to gouge some by the way they dress or where they live. I would hope that there is a minimum because they have gas and electric and other operating costs just to keep the doors open .


Chilton labor times for 2003 Trailblazer, to replace the fuel filter

OEM 0.4hrs

regular 0.6hrs

So 0.5hrs sounds about right

I believe OEM in this case means GM. I take that to mean a guy working at a GM dealer would get paid 0.4hrs . . . definitely not a gravy job. Fair, but not gravy

And regular probably means what your average independent shop would charge

perhaps somebody can shed some light on this . . .

Not quite sure what you mean by minimum charge built in. We charge .5 hours (about $50) for most fuel filters. Some are a real pain and show a labor time of over an hour, but those aren’t very common for us. For your car the half hour would apply.

We use labor guides for many services to ensure fair, consistent, repeatable pricing. Meaning that the next guy with an 03 Trailblazer should pay no more or no less than you did for fuel filter replacement. Labor guides are published using hourly units instead of dollars because of the vast difference in labor rates depending on where you are and the level of the shop doing the work.

How long I actually spend replacing the filter is not really related to how much you pay. That’s also in the interest of fairness, consistency, and repeatability.

$50 labor charge isn’t out of line to replace a fuel filter. In the car repair business, $50 is so little money it is in the noise level.

I appreciate the comments, now maybe they used a high fangled part, but for the fuel filter and change part was 34.63, fine costs usually $15 at the parts store, markup I accept, but labor of $57 $2.50 hazerdous materials and ending up $94.13 for a quick connect fuel filter seemed out of the realm of proper and appropriate as it was up on the rack for an oil change anyway, and If it ever took me 15 minutes with the quick disconnects I would be curious. The Fuel filter is on the driver side rail, easily accessable and replaceable.

Just saying spent over $94 to replace a part I can usually do in 5 minutes with a $15 part. Guess we got to do what we do and get estimates if we decide otherwise.

The public wants convenience and they want bargains and what they often get is neither. The franchise McShops and tire dealers and Quick Lubes must get customers in the door and use all manner of gimmicks to do so. And while some of those McShops do offer honest, reputable service most make a profit from selling unnecessary work at extravagant prices after they get the car in the door. Here in Mayberry the independent shops that are hidden on narrow streets and have a waiting list remain the best bargain in the long run for car owners and it is likely that is true in many locations. Regular customers get unadvertised package deals that aren’t advertised and don’t show up on the bill as anything worth paying attention to but those who do pay attention appreciate the savings and peace of mind they get. And the FLAT RATE manuals are the fairest basis for labor charges when used properly. If a car were on a lift for a $50 service the additional labor to replace the filter might be .2 hours. But that’s just my personal opinion and I never had to support the overhead of a shop next to a mall.

You have to look at that .5 and the actual time involved a lot deeper. On the surface it seems like a lot but once broken down one would find that it’s necessary.

There’s time involved by a service writer, parts person, cashier, things such as paper and printer ink, etc, etc, etc.
Some of that may sound inconsequential but it adds up

I show a list price of $33.16 for an AC Delco fuel filter or $31.80 for a Purolator, and .5 hours labor, $48 here.

Not trying to be snide, but if you can do it in 5 minutes for $15 why would you pay $90 to have it done? I’d bet if you figured the time you spent for a trip to the parts store, finding a pan and rags, crawling under the car and doing it, draining the filter and disposing of the gas (you don’t just dump it down the drain, do you?), and cleaning up it would be more than 5 minutes.

Just out of curiosity, how much was the oil change?

Oil change was $41.44, buy 5 get the 6th free, 7 qts oil plus filter, and a very thorough inspection @asemaster .Yes I am getting lazy in my old age, weather and family issues just figured let them do it, as I need it, was surprised at the price, and I am getting old, Can’t wrench with my right arm anymore, total shoulder replacement needed, but ok for the most part, sure left hip is bad also, but other than trouble sleeping now, so much better than walking up the stairs good leg one step at a time, can walk up normally now thanks to Chiropractor, though it might have healed by itself, I did not know the price before I went in, just put it on the list, was figuring $60 max, $94.13 was a surprise.

So gas filter and oil change, $143.03 was a surprise,

I don’t think that’s lazy. We all have limitations, and we have to pay people to do things that we are not able to do ourselves, either because we don’t know how to or just can’t.

I will say this, if a customer I don’t know completely came in and asked for fuel filter replacement with an oil change, I would say “Certainly, we’d be happy to do that. For your car the charge would be $XX. Is that OK?” I refuse to deal with surprises or the “5 o’clock shock” that comes with people picking up their cars without being notified what the final price is. Around here, until a price is quoted and the customer agrees, nothing happens.

Of course there are exceptions. I currently have a 1976 motor home that a customer just bought and he wants it gone through and made roadworthy. The cost never entered the discussion.

Hips and shoulders, take care of yourself and keep moving!

@asemaster Thanks for the kind thoughts, I am over the shell shock now, but really was surprised a gas filter change cost more than an oil change, I am not as bad as I sound, at 61 I see people half my age in such a world of hurt, doing ok and thanks for the thoughts,

It depends on the relationship you have with your mechanic.

@Tester made an important point. Establishing trust with your mechanic and the shop he works would eliminate at least 1/3 (maybe more) of the posts we see here from frustrated people feeling ripped off or overwhelmed by a huge repair bill. You can avoid some huge repair bills if caught early. Heck, I’d change shops to follow a good mechanic.

Know the mechanic so he knows your car. Treat them right and they will treat you right.

Not sure where you people live…but all mechanics I know here in NH and MA all charge by what the book rate tells them. In MOST cases a good experienced mechanic can do the job faster then the book says. Some a LOT FASTER. It’s perfectly legal and acceptable. I have no problem with it. As OK said…there’s a lot more behind it then just the actual repair…even in small one/two person shops.

I am over the shell shock now, but really was surprised a gas filter change cost more than an oil change,

Interesting thought, but you’ve got it backwards. It’s not that the gas filter should cost more than the oil change, it’s that the oil change service should cost $100.

The industry (myself included) has refused to price an oil change service at a reasonable, profitable level. I’m not saying that it should be a cash cow, but if we were to price an oil change to provide simply the same level of income or profit as other routine maintenance and repair, it would cost about $100.

I don’t know why I remember these numbers, but they’re from my youth, and we all remember the old days fondly. In 1985 when I got my first job at a neighborhood Chevron station, an oil change billed out at $8.95 for a filter, $8.95 for a lube, and $2.00/qt for the oil. With tax it was about $30. And we were busy 7 days a week.

30 years later, the shop labor rate is about 3X what it was back then, the minimum wage is 3X what it was, houses cost 3X what they did, you get my point. And here I am offering the same service with up to 6 qts. of oil for $34.95 plus tax–with a tire rotation!

The $57 is your convenience fee for not doing the work yourself.

Sometimes the convenience fee is too high. When the shop wanted to charge me $600 to replace a brake master cylinder that was like, $30 at the parts store, I said that’s not enough convenience for what you’re charging me and did the work myself. That, also, was a half hour job (yay speed bleeders!) for me, but I’m sure it was listed as longer in their book (and fairly so - they don’t know I have speed bleeders on there and would have to hook up their vac/pressure bleeder). I wasn’t willing to pay a $570 convenience fee. Others might be, or might have to because they don’t know how to do the work themselves.

Only you can decide if a $57 convenience fee is worth it to not have to screw with doing the fuel filter yourself. The guy doing it for you has the right to make a living, and $114 per hour really isn’t all that bad when you consider that he has to pay for his shop, his employees, and taxes before he takes any money home.

I just consider it a learning experience to throw into the equation for next time. It is a little different when you are paying someone for their time than doing it yourself. I have to admit though, after banging my head against the wall doing my own work for years, I have been pleasantly surprised at how cheap some of these jobs are now to have someone else do it.