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Double dipped on labor?

Hi, I have an 02 Buick Lesabre with the 3800, started leaking antifreeze, had signs of oil leaks as well. A shop replaced the manifold set (was told it was the lower intake leaking), along with the valve cover gaskets. A different mechanic saw the bill & mentioned they dble-dipped me, to do the valve covers with the intake off most everything in the way has already been removed. Comments or thoughts? Thanks, Dan

Show us the bill. We can’t really comment otherwise.

There is an additional time for removing the valve covers once the intake is off. What was the flat rate time for the procedures?

Their shop time is $70 p/hr, labor charge on valve covers= $182 and intake= $231 for a total of $314.

Not very familiar with this engine…but on most V shaped engines I’ve seen you can’t take the intake manifold off without first removing the valve covers.

I’ve seen it happen…Most places won’t pull this cr*p. Seen it before…but it’s rare…

I’ve never done this particular operation but it sounds like they figured 2.6 hours for the valve covers alone with the intake off. This may or may not be fair but it’s unknown to me how much additional labor is needed to remove those covers.
Quite often many things interfere with the removal of valve covers (A/C and alternator brackets, etc, etc).

Sometimes there is labor overlap and it’s unethical (but legal) if they did not take all or part of this into consideration.

It’s too murky for me to say at this point but I would ask the following question. Is this the reason for consulting with another mechanic?

I would question the additional labor for the valve covers. It would appear excessive to me.

One mechanic will often freely badmouth another mechanic, just to get your business. I wouldn’t give this mechanic who commented on your bill the benefit of the doubt. I wouldn’t give him my business either.

If, for example, I am getting a timing belt job done, and I add the water pump to the job, my mechanic might give me a break on the labor, but if I don’t ask for it, he might forget to do it. Ask the original mechanic if that is what he did, or if there is some reason he didn’t discount the labor.

Short version of a long story; engine went out while traveling, located a used engine & mechanic to install it. After getting the car back home, discovered leaking oil and then the antifreeze. Due to distance from the mech who installed the used engine, (he guaranteed his work), said to find a local shop & have it fixed. So the opinion of being dble-hit was from the mech who installed the engine, and many Thanks to him for standing behind his word.


I’d have a problem if the cost to change a water pump was $400…and the cost to change the timing belt was also $400…yet when they did both they charged me $800. And the reason the water pump replacement is so high is because you have to remove and replace the timing belt.

Legal?? Maybe…probably depends on the state.

Ethical?? NO WAY.

I agree Mike. If you pay to have a wheel replaced you don’t pay for the lugnuts being removed and replaced.

Per the usual, there’s always more to the story and the comment about one mechanic or shop badmouthing another is correct.
Based on the cut and paste from MSN Autos I’d say the repair was in line and legit.

A common problem on this vehicle is failure of the Upper and Lower Intake Manifold Gaskets and occasional problems are failures of the Valve Cover Gaskets and Oil Pan Gasket. Failure of the Upper and Lower Intake Manifold Gaskets, Valve Cover gaskets and Oil Pan Gasket apply to the 3.8L engine only. The cost to replace the Upper and Lower Intake Manifold Gaskets is estimated at $103.00 for parts and $390.00 for labor. The cost to repair the Valve Cover Gaskets is estimated at $23.00 for parts and $170.00 for labor. The cost to repair the Oil Pan Gasket is estimated at $20.00 for parts and $125.00 for labor. All prices are estimates based on $65.00 per flat rate hour and do not include diagnostic time or any applicable sales tax

mtdan: You got a little dyslexic with your arithmetic. The total would be $413 for the labor, or 5.9 hours at $70/hr. I can’t remember exactly what book time is for replacing the lower intake gaskets on that car, but I do remember that it is between 5 and 6 hours (I really want to say 5.3 or 5.4 hours). I’m not sure why they broke the labor down the way they did since it is very confusing, but as far as what you paid in labor, total, it is perfectly reasonable. For this engine and this job, I would normally charge book time for the lower intake gaskets and an additional half hour to replace the valve cover gaskets while it’s apart, which is about how much extra time it takes to do that. That labor breakdown is much easier for the customer to understand. To answer your question, they did not double dip on the labor, they just broke it down in an unusual manner. You were charged an appropriate amount of labor for the work they did.

Mark, thanks for correcting my dyslexic addition…