Fair charge for tune-up?

Thats not an authorization, they took advantage of you. You do not have to be an expert on your vehicle, the maintenance of your vehicle is a business transaction and you should treat it as one. Know what is needed from the scheduled maintenance section of your owners manual.

Knowing what is needed ahead of time, you go in and ask for an estimate for these parts and services, in business terms you are submitting a request for proposal (RFP). They respond with the estimate, in writing, aka the proposal. If you accept the proposal/ estimate, you sign and they begin work.

If inspections are part of the estimate and they find something that needs additional maintenance, then they must call you for approval. They should give you an estimate for the additional work as well, but you should ask for the urgency of the job. For example, your brake pads may not have been urgent. They may have had a few more thousand miles left on them so you would have the option of having the brakes scheduled for a later date or you could get estimates from other shops.

Its business, plain and simple. You were taken advantage of by poor business practices. They may be good mechanics, but they are not very ethical when it comes to business. At least based on what you have told us so far, there may be some extenuating circumstances due to a misunderstanding between you and them.

Thanks for all responses. This forum is an amazing resource and I have learned a lot. I really never wanted to learn about cars, but it seems like I really should…

The above post is very well written and confirms many of the posts before it. I have pretty much decided to go with a new shop (which was my gut feeling anyway!). Now I have to figure out how to find a good one!

The labor charges were very reasonable

It looks like they may have used factory and/or japanese parts. I’m speculating, based on the price of the parts themselves

Some of the guys said $10 would be a fair price for an air filter. If you bought a cheap filter and didn’t pay labor, perhaps. But a shop always has to mark up the parts. If a shop doesn’t make a profit, it won’t be around for long. If a shop only charges $10 for the air filter itself, I will assume it’s crap, and worth less than the box it came in

Considering that OP said they drive like a bat out of hell, I’d say the tune up may very well have been justified

To me the prices you were charged are reasonable. One could argue whether everything that was done was necessary, but it’s hard to say without inspecting the car and also depending on what you told them beforehand, any complaints about performance you wanted them to address, etc. Have you compared what was done vs what the factory recommends per your owner’s manual at 30k miles?

The worst outcome is probably that you just had some stuff done before it was actually needed, but you still benefit from that as it will now take longer before it needs to be done again. I’d say just live with it, maybe try to develop better communications between you and your shop going forward. You might ask them if they offer a service where for a fixed yearly price they keep all the routine service up to date, and send you a postcard when it is time next for you to bring the car in.

The prices sound fair to me and it might be noted that they charged 15 bucks for an oil change, fluid check, etc, etc.
If they were really going to gouge then it would seem they would have recommended every fluid flush known to man.

Some plug wire sets can be very pricy. I think the Bosch set I bought for my Lincoln some years ago was about 120 dollars at AutoZone and a Ford Motorcraft set was more like 220.

I didn’t think it sounded that bad either except for the need for a tune up. If there was an ignition problem though then maybe. I’m sure my Honda air filter is approaching $30, and I paid over $100 for OEM plug wires for my Pontiac. Wonder why the rear brakes and not the front though.

The best way to save money in future is to become more knowledgeable about your car. Don’t just tell them to “do whatever it needs.” Read your owners manual and follow the recommended maintenance schedule. Have the shop do only the recommended maintenance work when scheduled. If they think it needs extra work, ask them to show you why. A reputable shop will be happy to show you worn/damaged parts or explain why extra work is actually needed.

" I was told that when someone brings a car in, “they check everything”.

Based on your description of the content of the conversation up front, they did unnecessary and unauthorized work. They can check whatever they want, but in NH they cannot do any work that isn’t authorized by you. And they can’t charge you for things they do without authorization, including checking everything.

It also sounds like they did unnecessary work. Like the “tuneup” with the sparkplug change, definitely way before they were due… and the “lube chassis”, which isn’t done on modern cars. Modern cars have “sealed joints”, which means it’s impossible to lube them. Chassis lubes are a thing of the past.

Sorry, but what they did was “take you for a ride”. You may want to check with your state’s consumer affairs department, typically part of the attorney general’s office, to see if what they did was even legal in your state. If not, you have grounds to fight the charges.

Sincere best.

A lot of trucks still have zerks. A lot of high quality aftermarket ball joints, u-joints and tie rod ends still have zerks

Chassis lubes are not yet a thing of the past

I agree with mountainbike. Whether the prices were fair is not the issue at all.

The only question would be whether or not you very specifically said something like “please check these things and do whatever needs to be done.” In that case, you basically did authorize the work. I don’t know if that kind of request satisfies actual laws regarding authorization of work. But in common sense terms it means you gave them the go ahead. Of course, I still think they should have gotten you a full estimate before proceeding.

After re-reading the OP’s post, I agree that the OP maybe got taken advantage of. It sounds like he took the car in for an oil change and got a bunch of other work tacked on. But there’s some vagueness in the OP’s description of what exactly he told the shop to do, so it’s not entirely clear.

If the OP was told “we check everything” and then he said “OK, do whatever it needs,” then he has no basis for a complaint. On the other hand, if he said, “No, only change the oil,” that’s a different matter.

Db, if Subies have zerks than I stand corrected.
Subie guys???

The factory Subaru suspension and steering components should not have Zerk fittings but replacement parts likely will.

Note that the use of the term “chassis lubrication” is probably a fit-all that is printed onto the work order and may or may not apply to the job at hand; especially at 15 dollars.

2011 Subies don’t have zerks. However, I considered the notation for the oil/filter change to be their standard LOF designation, regardless of the existence of the zerks… AT $15 there was no additional charge for a lube, nor a discount when there are no zerks.

I don’t know enough about the car condition or the OP’s driving habits to determine whether the OP should be on a severe service schedule. I suspect the shop didn’t really know, either.

When I did chassis lubes at a service station back in the 60’s, a big part of the job was checking all the fluid levels and refilling as needed. In fact, the greasing of the zerk fittings went pretty quick.

Removing the fill plugs on the rear end and the manual transmission to check them, then all the fluid reservoirs that had to be opened, no plastic see through reservoirs back then, took more time.

So if the garage listed a chassis lube, it may have just been to cover checking all the fluid levels in the vehicle. But there are just too many other red flags to ignore in what this garage did.

Guys, I didn’t say that Subarus have zerks

I did say that zerks are still around, and will be for some time

The S10 and Blazer had many zerks. They sold tons of those trucks, and they only stopped building them about 11 years ago. There’s still plenty of them around

Hitting the zerks is very much part of the service for anything medium duty and bigger. As far as I know, some full size trucks still have them.

It is absolutely incorrect to say that a lube job is a thing of the past

Would oiling the door hinges be considered part of a chassis lube? While I’m waiting for the oil to drain during oil changes I’ll often oil the door hinges with some 3-in-one oil, dab a little wd 40 on the moving mechanisms for the floor pedals & the door & hood locking mechanisms, etc. If doing all four doors, trunk, hood , that all can take some time. $15 for all that seems reasonable to me and prove to be effective at minimizing future problems down the road.

One thing to watch out for is what you sign. Many shops have you sign a preauthorization for work. I always check to make sure it lists only the work I have requested and does not include any blanket authorizations before I sign. If you sign an authorization that allows all work or work up to a certain dollar amount then you cannot complain when the shop proceeds with work that you have signed off on. An honest shop would call you before spending your money, regardless of what you sign. My mechanic always calls me with a diagnosis and price on anything we did not discuss beforehand and he does not proceed without my approval.

A shop charging you does not depend on relationship or old time customer, it depends on the shop’s daily expenses and bills. Happened to me. They are a business and if one month they do not get customers or their expenses increase they charge you more. It keeps changing.