High priced?

Hey everyone, we had to switch auto shops because of a bad experience. I thought we may have found a ok one but now I’m not sure. We needed a new starter for a 1993 Grand marquis the price was 400 dollars. I was talking to a neighbor tonight and he said that was way to much and maybe the most it should be was 300. We need other things done on the car. The hood latch cable needs to be replace and the shop wants 246 to do it. My question is this, do these prices seem to high? Any advice would be appreciated.

Not to me.

That’s the problem with neighbors, even if they mean well (and most do) they often lack enough knowledge of the details to be second-guessing a shop. They don’t know the shop’s hourly shop rates, the “standard time” for a given job, whether the shop used OEM, remanufactured, or aftermarket parts, and whether the shop is any good. And they generally base their estimates on internet prices for the parts only. Internet parts can vary wildly, as can their quality.

You’re talking about $100 difference on the starter replacement. I’d very happily pay an extra $100 on a job for good quality work with good quality parts and a workmanship warranty. And I’d even bring them a box of doughnuts after!


The price to have the starter replaced for your vehicle in my area is $300-$400.



I’m seeing roughly 1hr labor . . . labor rates vary, depending on location, dealer vs independent, etc. But many shops charge well over $100 per billed hour of labor

Then figure the price of the part. Probably $200, give or take, for a quality unit

Then add tax,

That $400 sounds reasonable to me


Sounds fair to me. I have a feeling if the shop said 200 dollars your friend would have an issue with that amount also.


Your best defense against paying way too much is to get quotes, not to ask your neighbors. There’s always a neighbor, co-worker, friend, etc. that says that it’s too much. These people typically don’t know the product, service, industry, particulars, or have had any personal experience, but somehow know how much something should cost.

I have found that very few repairs will cost less than $300. And if you have found a shop that does good work, I wouldn’t do too much price-shopping. Not having to take a vehicle back or not worrying about a repair is worth something as well.


I think that most of us know people who will always tell you that you paid too much–even when you didn’t.
I believe that this is their way of trying to appear to “know everything”, even when they actually know…
very little.


Especially if that purchase is a vehicle .


The Dilbert cartoon has just such a character, named “Topper” for obvious reasons.

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The most popular repair facility around here is - PepBoys. I wouldn’t let them change my air-freshener. Then why do people bring their cars there you may ask? Because they’re cheap. Their prices are cheaper then any dealer and most independents.

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Thanks guys for all the help, I feel better now about the price. Thanks again

Suggest you’d serve yourself better to focus more on the quality of the work than nickel and diming the price. I had some construction work done a couple years ago, 4 bids. I ended up choosing the crew with the highest price. Why? B/c I could tell the manager took pride in the quality of their work. No surprise, they did an excellent job for me too. And they didn’t waste my time. When they said they’d be there at 9 am, they’d often show up at 8:30 am.

We had a guy with a new VW Vanagon came in once to see about his initail 7500 miles service. This is a minor service that costs roughly 60 bucks. It’s a glorified oil change with a tire rotation.

He was offended, said it was too high, and that he would do it himself. Several days later it came back in with a cracked hubcap, rounded lugs on one wheel, and a factory lug wrench that was slightly wallowed out.
He claimed it wasn’t his fault because “VW is famous for using crummy plastic and inferior metals”. Hardly.


Funny story @ok4450 :slight_smile: … Why he wouldn’t pony up the $75 and get the oil change and the tires rotated is beyond me. Diy’er oil changes aren’t that difficult, I can see that part, but rotating all four tires in the driveway isn’t very fun, even with a floor jack and jack-stands. With only the tire changing equipment that comes with the car, not something I’m doing.

George, you’re right. Rotating tires in the drive is a PITA. The story actually turned to rage. I was the shop foreman and was told by the service manager we were going to “warranty” this repair. The guy even demanded a brand new set of 4 much more expensive wheel covers.
I argued with the SM for 10 full minutes and told him the company was going to eat every dime of this BS.
He said if the claim was denied we “would appeal”. I told him an appeal was already dead in the water.

Bottom line the guy got everything free of charge and we never saw him again. The following month the VW factory rep was making his rounds and I could see him
in the glass office talking to the warranty clerk while holding a handful of papers. I could see this train wreck coming.

The rep came out into the shop and asked me what was going on. I said “you mean the VW Vanagon wheel and wheel cover repairs”. Yep. I told him the story and he turned red and said well the company is going to eat every dime. No kidding. Every mechanic quit working to watch the show going on the SM’s office (all glass) and the VW rep reamed that moron for 15 minutes straight. The SM was hunkered down in his chair and looked like a beat dog. We were all laughing and high fiving while watching it all go down.

Even more tragic was that the SM went the next week and tried to back flag the mechanic who did the work for a comeback. Comeback being mechanic speak for screw up. NO way. I managed to bring that debacle to a halt.
The service manager was crying on my shoulder about being denied. “But…but…but…we did the right thing”. No you didn’t and you were warned a dozen times in advance.
The tribulations of working under a 100% moron. The VW rep actually said that he was the “dumbest SOB on the face of the Earth”… :slight_smile:


I agree you have to feel right about the person doing the work on your house and price does sometimes come second, sound to me you found a honest had working man to do the construction on your house . We are on a fixed income so I have to be very careful about price. I use price as only one indicator of honesty. If someone grossly overcharges than I won’t trust their work, quality of parts either because if they price gouge all they care about is money and they sure will use the worst quality parts to make even more money. Long story short we had a hole in our roof and we had to go with the highest estimate only because the roofer could get the job done way before any one else, boy was that a mistake. This guy didn’t repair the leak left rotten wood and left the roof with shingles that weren’t tied in with the rest of the roof. He thought because the leak was on the porch we would never really notice it. Man was that a nightmare, we still have some rotten wood on our roof. I don’t think this car mechanic grossly over charged us but I did find out tonight that the starter cost 141 and he charged 254 for the starter and 98 for labor

All shops mark up parts and they MUST do this to stay in business. If they sold the parts to you at the same price they paid for them then they would have to charge you 200 in labor to offset the shortage.

Mechanics are no different than plumbers, electricians. carpenters, hospitals (talk about a markup…) and many other professions. They ALL mark up the cost of parts and supplies out of necessity.

My last visit in the hospital led to an itemized bill which showed they charged me (many times) 15 bucks for an OTC Tylenol and 10 bucks for an aspirin…


Sounds like you got a fair deal

Any shop that doesn’t make a fair profit on parts is shooting themselves in the foot, and may soon be out of business

“giving away” parts and labor can lead to a shop’s demise

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The hospital, dentist, plumber,fence company and roofer all mark up what they sell you. They buy at wholesale and sell at retail and then charge you for their labor. Why should Auto Shops be any different?

As for being on a fixed income now, I was driving a school bus quite a while before I took Social Security and another driver on a field trip with me offered to buy my coffee and snack because “You are on a fixed income now”. I laughed and said yes, and my fixed income is what I was making before PLUS my Social Security


Most independent mechanics around here buy their parts from either these parts suppliers that don’t sell directly to the public, or some of these local parts stores that give mechanics a good discount that I can’t get. The mechanic then raises the price of the part to the retail price that I would pay. I don’t know of any mechanic that pays retail and then raises the price to above retail. Never seen it, and never heard of it.

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