Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Diagnostic Fee


I have a general question. Should I pay for diagnostic fee if the shop couldn’t figure out the problem?


If you approved the fee then yes you pay it . Those guys don’t work for free .

So I should take it that they actually spent time on the problem?

What was the problem and what was their reason for not diagnosing it?

While I wouldn’t usually support charging for failure to diagnose a problem the “rest of the story” here might be worthwhile in understanding the shop’s position.


Let’s say you have a pain in your wrist, you go to the doctor, he says “Joe, I don’t know what it is, come back if it gets worse”. Do you pay for the office visit? I say yes.


I posted my truck problem here in Couldn’t find the problem myself so I took the car to a local shop this morning and so far he couldn’t figure out the problem. I don’t mind paying for the fee but I will always wondering if the mechanic actually spent time to figure out the problem or just perform some basic tests and called it a day.

Whether the mechanic spent 10 minutes or a full day looking at your car… he still provided his time and expertise. Which he could have been putting toward another car.

Just pay the fee and move forward.

1 Like

If a receipt/repair order lacks specifics, why not ask for details as to what was done during the diagnosis? Could the shop replicate the complaint (get it to not start?) Did the mechanic check for compression, fuel, and ignition? I would think they owe you that.

I’d take notes as to what was done and if anything short of fixing the problem was learned. It could come in handy when it happens again and goes back into a shop.

Sometimes with problems like this one it is best if the car can be left with a mechanic and he/she allowed to drive it until they become stranded with the car not starting. A good mechanic should be able to sort things out when this occurs.
:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:


I’d pay that sort of fee myself, unless I had a prior written agreement with the shop saying a diagnostic fee will not be applied if the problem cannot be diagnosed. That sort of thing rarely applies, so yes, pay the fee.

imo generally you’ll get better results to pay the shop to focus on the problem you want solved, and to keep working on it until it is solved, rather than quibbling about diagnostic fees. In my experience the shop will often waive the initial diagnostic fee if you allow them to keep trying until they solve the problem and get you back on the road. It’s just part of the give and take that lubricates society & the economy.

Just curious, but what is the problem and what did they say about it? If you approved anything then you are on the hook for the charge.

Mechanics will know what I mean when I say that there are a certain number of people who have no intention of paying for any repair. They are simply looking for a free diagnosis so they can DIY or have their buddy fix it cheaper. I am NOT saying you are one of those people; only that it is not a rare thing to happen and the shop has no idea if you are one of “them” or not.

My vote is that you pay it, because you’re paying for the mechanic to perform diagnostic work.

My vote is also that if the mechanic could not provide you with an accurate diagnosis, or for that matter any diagnosis at all, you should find one that can.

That, of course, assumes that this is not an intermittent problem that the mechanic was unable to observe, or some weird one-off problem that no one’s ever heard of.

The problem is not an intermittent problem and the mechanic was able to replicate it but he was unable to find the cause. I was prepared to pay for the fee but he didn’t charge me a cent and he recommended me to take it to the dealer and maybe they have some Nissan specific tools/softwares the diagnose the problem.

I ask again. Exactly what is the car doing? CEL on and/or flashing? Keep in mind that problems can occur without setting any diagnostic codes at all.