Charging me for a tool

My mechanic said he could fix the thermostat in my 99 VW Passat. After a few days he said he had to order a special tool to do it. Now i find out he want to charge me for the $260 tool. Is this legal?

It may be legal but it’s pretty low class and if I were you I would not pay it. Drive or tow the car off somewhere else and have it repaired.
Tools are his responsibility, not yours, and most mechanics own a number of tools that they’ve paid dearly for and will never use them enough to recover the costs of those tools. It comes with the territory.

This is even worse if he did this on his own without consultation with you first, which I assume is the case here.

Do you get to keep the tool?

Yes! But you have the right to take that special tool. Afterall, you paid for it!


I Googled “Passat thermostat tool” and also “VW thermostat tool” and found no special tool. My VW parts supplier catalog said nothing about a special tool in the thermostat tool section. It would be interesting to know what that special tool is used for.

I’m pretty sure it’s not for the thermostat but rather for some other part they have to take off to get to the thermostat. The dealership said it would cost $650 to do the job and being a VW i’m sure it isn’t an easy job. I talked to a different mechanic and he said the entire front end has to come off to get to it. So i can see why it cost so much but the tool issue is ticking me off.

Given what a pain this job is, perhaps this is just your mechanic’s way of saying he doesn’t want to do it.

Probably a Snap-On 3/8 drive mm service set ! :slight_smile:

Yes. That’s the only explanation that would make sense, to my mind. I have never heard of this being done- charging a customer for a tool. If the shop was going to charge the customer for the SST, they wouldn’t have been dumb enough to say so point blank. They would have figured it into their estimate and given the customer a lump sum quote or something like that.

Do you think the thermostat REALLY needs fixing? What’s the problem?

AHHHHH… Those special tools sem to be everywhere. I was investigating a washing machine repair and it said you needed a special clutch depressing tool for $99. Looked it up and the picture looked like a couple washers and nuts on a threaded rod. I rebuilt an automatic transmission. They said you needed lots of special tools. Some threaded rods and coke cans worked just fine. Seems you mechanic never has or expects to never repair one of these again. Or it may be his way of saying that he is not interested in doing it for a previously quoted price. Its a free market and he is only trying to solve your problem. Weigh your options, don’t get mad.

I agree with the others that it’s legal but sleezy. If he insists on charging you, demand the tool.

Once you’ve settled the bill and as you turn to leave, tell him “I guess I’m lucky…lucky I’m not the first guy that you used your rack for. His bill must have been a whopper! Oh, and I’m notifying the IRS that you’re charging the customers for the tools, which I suspect you’re also deducting as an expense. They may want to talk with you.”

But everybody uses the rack so that’s a different situation.

I’m guessing this guy doesn’t see many Volkswagens and chances are if he buys the tool, he’s only going to use it once. Yes, tools are his responsibility but there’s probably no way he can just eat $260 on a simple thermostat repair. I’m sure he’s just trying to be polite by not refusing the work outright-- after all, maybe his price even including the tool is still better than the dealership. If that’s the case, this arrangement he’s proposed would be benificial for all involved, although perhaps he hasn’t been the best at communicating this.

Get a second opinion. If you choose to get the job done by Goober, make sure that he knows he has to turn the tool over to you. Offer to buy it yourself. Ask for the manufacturer and model number. That way he has to turn it over aver the job is done.

I don’t think a reputable mechanic should charge a customer for a tool. If he can’t work around it then send the job out to someone who can work around it or has the tool.
Matter of fact, I can’t even think of any mechanics I know who have ever done this.

I see your point, but I have to respectfully disagree. Tools are written off as expenses, and are the cost of doing business. However he is being honest up front with the customer and that alone might make me have him do the work anyway. But I would ask for the tool…in case I needed the work done again and he was no longer around.

Agree with ok - charging for the tool is absurd. If there is some “tool” that is disposable that is required, that may be different. But that would never cost $260. That stuff is generally labeled as shop supplies and runs a few $$ at most.

If it requires a special tool that can be reused, either the mechanic should pay for it, or he should say he doesn’t have the equipment and point you someplace that does. It would be reasonable for him to charge you a diagnostic fee, if he had to do work to ID the problem, though.

I mean, the mechanic I use for stuff I don’t want to do doesn’t do alignments. But when he fixed up my Camry, he didn’t try to charge me for an alignment machine - he just told me I needed to go somewhere else…