HELP - Should I pay $1100 or $1900 for these repairs?

Bought a used car for trade-in cost. Looks almost new inside/out. It needs one left axle, timing belt, water pump, 2 back struts. Everything else is great. My guy here in town will charge $1900. A guy near where I bought it–3 hours away can have a shop there do it for $1100. The far-away place has a lower cost of living, so that may account for part of the difference. The guys here are honest, definitely, but they may not be the cheapest. … Not sure. This is a 98 Subaru Outback. What do YOU think is a reasonable price for labor and parts?

What kind of parts are going to be used? Are they original Subaru or after market? Actually the $1100 seems like a better price, that is where the 2 previous questions come from.

Both are good quotes for the areas that they are in. That $1100 place will be alright and you can stay in a motel and have a night out too.

I find it hard to believe that the location justifies an $800 difference is price. Parts are parts. The difference has to be in labor. Go with the less expensive place, as long as you trust them.

Or use the lower price quote to bargain with your local shop.

Without getting directly into the issue of costs, one question that you may want to ask yourself is:

If there is a problem with repair work that is done 3 hours away, how convenient would it be to drive the car back there in order to have it rectified?


How costly would it be to have the car flat-bedded there (Subarus can’t be towed) in the event that the car craps out after those cheaper guys do the work?

There is such a thing as simplifying your life, and even if it seems to cost a few hundred $$ more right now, a local repair could actually wind up costing far less in terms of time spent, inconvenience, and…yes, in dollars also… in the long run.

You may have different values than I do, and you may have more spare time than the average person, but I just can’t see having repairs performed 3 hours away unless I had absolutely no choice.

The guys near you you know to be honest. That is very important. And as other have said, the 3 hours could be important if you have to have it towed. go with what the ones you know.

Here’s some rough prices: Rear struts lifetime $100 ea
timing belt $90; water pump 63; axle $70. Did not include tensioners, etc, if needed, and axle price may not be exactly right, but these are the biggies. All else is Labor. Labor for the timing belt/water pump for me last time was about $250-300.

I think you will know if the work is done right less than half way back home if you have the work done three hrs away, so I think the risk to save $800 is reasonable.

which brings up a question. I recently had my car towed during a snowstorm. Passat 03 FWD. When I picked it up, it was still locked, which means they hoisted it by the front. They had to move a Passat AWD parked in front of me at the lot, and again, they did this by hoisting it by the front and letting the rear wheels ride on the ground.

So did that AWD passat get damaged by being towed that way? I’m also lucky I don’t use the parking brake much or that would have been damaged also.

You should find out what the brand name of the parts are. For example, the struts might be Monroe (ok but cheaper) or KYB (better and cost more). Are any of the parts factory parts or after market. Is the axle a new or reman? If new, is it OEM or a Chinese made replacement? BTW, have had better luck with a Chinese made new one than any reman.