Do auto dealers charge a fee for etimating repairs?

gmc
sonoma

#1

My truck will not start and I have no idea why. My dealer says they charge for estimating repairs. Is this true and how much on average? Thanks, Joe


#2

Ask the dealer.


#3

It’s not really a charge for an estimate. Since a mechanic will need to spend time making a diagnosis you will get charged a fee for that diagnosis and then an additional charge if you want them to fix it.

If you already knew what the problem is, the dealership would give you an estimate for the work that you want them to do - therefore, there would be no charge for that estimate.


#4

Ask the shop. different shops, different rules .
But think a second, a mechanic’s time is not free. They show up to work every day, all day, and need a paycheck at the end of the day.
If all they’ve done all day is diagnose people’s vehicles, where does the money come from ?


#5

You need to call and ask.

At some shops, they charge a diagnostic fee. At others, they charge a diagnostic fee, but will waive it if you have the repair done there. Shops that offer a free diagnosis can’t usually be trusted since they have a conflict of interest. Finding nothing wrong, or finding something that is cheap to fix might mean they lose money, so they ALWAYS find something wrong; usually something expensive.

The more important question to ask is, “What happens if your repair doesn’t fix the problem?” It would really suck to be stuck with the diagnostic fee and a repair bill, but still have a car that won’t start. It would suck slightly less to have to pay for two repairs when you only needed one. The first repair costs your mechanic money, even if it doesn’t fix the problem, so be willing to meet him halfway if it doesn’t work out as planned the first time.

My mechanic is pretty reasonable. If the first repair doesn’t fix the problem, it might be a case where more than one thing was wrong to begin with. When my air conditioner stopped working, the tech said it was a leaky schrader valve. When replacing it didn’t fix the problem, and I needed a new compressor, I didn’t think I should have to pay for draining and refilling the system with freon more than once, so they knocked it off the bill for the compressor job.


#6

If you already knew what the problem is, the dealership would give you an estimate for the work that you want them to do - therefore, there would be no charge for that estimate.

…and the shop would be blameless if the repair doesn’t fix your problem.

If you go in and say, “My car is overheating. Replace the radiator.” replacing the radiator might not keep it from overheating again, especially if you really needed a new thermostat. In this example, you are better off just saying, “My car is overheating. Please figure out why it is overheating.” It might cost you a little more, but it can prevent a lot of headaches later.


#7

Yes. Any competent professional shop will charge for diagnosis and generating an estimate.

If you go to the dentist with a toothache, you pay for an exam and x-rays, then the dentist interprets the results and comes up with a repair plan.

Now if you already know, for example, that your truck needs a fuel pump, you could just ask the front desk for the price to replace a pump, and you’d get an estimate for what that would cost. However some shops won’t do work based on someone else’s diagnosis.

If your car were towed to a shop for a no start condition, I’d expect an initial diagnostic charge between $60 and $100, depending on location and prevailing rates. Now if it’s something simple, there might not be a diagnostic fee. We don’t open the hood, and say look, the upper radiator hose is blown. That’ll be $50.


#8

It vary’s. Many dealers will waive or essentially reduce the fee if you repair the vehicle after.

My Subaru dealer for example has a $40 flat rate which really is pretty good.


#9

It is not like buying carpet where a few measurments are taken and then you are given an estimate.


#10

…and the shop would be blameless if the repair doesn’t fix your problem

Whitey is correct,
although sometimes it’s a good thing. I took my vehicle to the shop and told them to install a multi-function switch which had gone bad. They told me they would charge for the part, labor and diag fee. I instructed them that they would not charge me a diag fee since no diag was needed but to install the switch. They told me they would not be liable if it were not the switch. I told them that makes perfect sense and I had no problem with that.

In your case you do need a diag to see what to repair, therefore, they need to and will charge you.