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Fair Price to replace a lower radiator hose?

Thanks for your responses. After reading the great majority, I was beginning to feel that maybe I was not over charged. However, I took one of your pieces of advice and called two local NAPA stores to get a price. One quote was for $32, the other for $35 for the hose. I am left again wondering if I should go back to the garage owner. I don’t really expect he’ll refund me any money. And while it is about money, it’s also about being cheated by someone you thought you could trust. I had to decide where to have the car towed and thought I could trust this garage. My problem is not with labor charged. I can see it’s difficult to do the job on a front drive car with very little room, and I realize the garage will mark up the price on parts, but the difference between $35 and $216 is 83%. That’s quite a markup. I guess it’s obvious I won’t be taking my car back there or recommending it to anyone.

I had to have my car towed to local garage from a parking lot about 5 miles away when it started leaking a lot of coolant. I had feared it might be the water pump. Turns out it was a hole in the lower radiator hose on a 1999 Ford Taurus, and at first I was relieved to learn it was just the hose. But then when the garage owner called back, he told me the part alone cost $216 and labor was another 120 for a grand total of $374 with tax.

Afterward I checked the price of the part online (the prices ranged between $10 - $45), I began to suspect he took advantage of that I had to be towed in and that I would not be willing to have it towed somewhere else. I had taken my car there before and never felt ripped off. His prices were a little high, but not like this. He did show me the old hose with a metal tube and a flared end. The car has 140 K on it and I don’t doubt it had to be replaced, but cost of the part seems really high. Was I ripped off?

Were You Hosed ? Maybe Not.
Some Of Those “Coolant Pipes” On Newer Cars Are Available Only From The Dealer And Are Shockingly Pricey. If That’s The Case With That “Old Hose With A Metal Tube And A Flared End,” Then The Shop Could Be In Line.

Steel coolant tubing can rust through on a 1999. Also, some of these are not simple to install, I don’t know on your car. Don’t forget that the cooling system had to refilled with new coolant, too.

Search for your part online. Call the Ford dealer and describe the part(s). Chances are they’re familiar with this. They’ll give you a price.

I’ve seen coolant pipes on some makes/models that are very difficult to access and would run to the hundreds to replace.

You saved the car’s life and yourself a lot of money by having it towed and not over-heating it.

CSA

I think there are a few factors here conspiring to make you feel ripped off. First of all, the parts you are seeing online may be incorrect for your particular application (model year, engine VIN code, build date, etc can all make a difference). Second, shops do indeed mark up the parts before selling them to you. They could not stay in business if they did not. Also, shops generally are not in the practice of shopping for replacement parts online. Most customers want their car fixed ASAP, and most shops want the dead cars out of their shops ASAP to free up valuable bay space and keep their customers happy. Most people are not willing to go a week or few without their car to save a hundred bucks on a part for their car. Buying parts online carries a great deal of risk as well, especially to a shop. Parts may take a week or more to arrive, and either turn out to be incorrect or of such poor quality they do not want to risk installing them in a customer’s vehicle. If the wrong part arrives, someone from the shop must take it to a shipping hub, pack it up, and pay to ship it back to the vendor, then call the customer and tell them it will be another couple weeks before their car is done, provided the correct parts arrive next time around. Also, some online vendors are so desperate to get rid of what they have they will sell them ridiculously cheap, while local suppliers that can get the part to the shop within minutes are not so desperate to make a sale. I regularly see parts selling online for a quarter the price of what you can get them for locally, but usually time is a factor so I end up buying locally, especially for customers.

On the surface the price sounds high but other details behind the repair could make the cost realistic.
With shop rates being somewhat high a 120 labor could easily be hit with an 80 dollar an hour flat rate if a 1.5 hour charge was applied.

As to the part, a quick look at eBay shows several lower hoses at near a 100 dollars. Not that a shop should use eBay as a parts source; just pointing out the cost variation.

Shops order parts from places locally that deliver them. Since the car is torn down and sitting in the shop, they want the parts delivered immediately. NAPA stores often service the local repair shops with quick service. Some parts have to come from a Ford dealer, which can be further away and more expensive. If you want to price the part, check with a local NAPA store for a price.

Some of these hoses are very specialized; they are bent into precise and unique shapes and can have metal sections joining rubber sections. The days of the universal hoses that can be put on any car are a thing of the past. These types of hoses are restrictive of flow and tend not to hold up well in the higher temps modern engines are run at.

$374 seems high but maybe the radiator hose is indeed that expensive if he buys it from the dealer. A mechanic can also bump the price of the part.

Now you know why the regulars here fix their own cars.

“Now you know why the regulars here fix their own cars.”

I’ll drink to that ! I could never afford to keep our family fleet on the road if I paid to have all maintenance and repairs done. Also, I like being able to do it on my schedule, sometimes on week-end days.

CSA

You might look up the price of the by-pass hose for that car. It is pricey and requires a great deal of labor to replace.

"Also, I like being able to do it on my schedule, sometimes on week-end days."

I agree.
That’s why we have one spare car in the family, the Integra. That way one can take his time, shop for parts and take time scratch the back of your head to think before having to finish it to get it ready for the morning’s commute. This way you can actually have the semblance of a life.

For instance, I replaced the transmission in my son’s Impreza with a cheap craiglist replacement about 6 months ago. Rome wasn’t built in one day so he drove the integra around for a week or two.

If it’s a metal tube and you have the original, go to a muffler shop and ask them if they can bend a copy. Those guys are usually good welders and have all kinds of dies to bend up just about any kind of tubing. Heck, have them make it out of stainless while you’re at it!