I just had my high-pressure power steering hose replaced on my 2000 Maxima today and they charged me $297 for a part that, I think, should cost between $100 and $200 (according to the research I’ve done). How badly was I ripped off as far as the part price goes? The labor was cheaper than the part!
Common for parts to be marked up, sometimes 100% over wholesale. The only way to know if you were ripped off is to compare your total job cost to what others would charge for parts, labor, etc. Other shops might have marked the part up less but charged more labor.
Was your price research online? If so you can’t go by that. The hose was purchased from a local parts supplier at their price. And of course the shop is going to add their margin to the part.
Remember, when buying parts online, there’s a 3-4 day delivery time, shipping costs, and after all that you HOPE they sent the right part.
Your mechanic has to do the job again for free if the part he puts on fails so he isn’t looking for the cheapest part, he is looking for the best one. Then he is marking it up just like the plumber, home decorator, or appliance repairman.
@oldtimer_11 - in any post you make look right next to your screen name. There is a time stamp and word “Edit” (though in little letters). Just click Edit
The cheapest at Rockauto.com is $72.99 http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/x,carcode,1359222,parttype,7320
Now that I look again, there’s one for $63.79. If you can spare the time it takes to get the part, it’s a lot cheaper shopping around on the internet for it.
I just paid $72 for a tank of gas. My truck runs, so I will be happy about that. Some things may seem like money down the drain. At least the drain accepted the money without puking up another problem. I’m always grateful when that happens.
As others have stated, repair shops can’t stay open and mechanics can’t feed their families by the price of labor alone, especially if they install the cheapest parts available or have to tell a customer they can have the parts in a week, then have to call them back, say they got the wrong parts and will have to ship them back to exchange them, so it will be a couple more weeks, and he damaged your power steering line removing it before realizing he got the wrong part, so you will be without a car for a couple weeks until the correct part (hopefully) arrives. Repair shops have to pay utilities, insurance, rent/mortgage, maintenance and updates to fixtures, Alldata subscriptions and updates, purchasing and updating scan tools and other specialty tools, etc. The same is true of any professional service. If you hired somebody to pave your driveway, would you expect to pay only the contractor’s cost of the concrete and some labor, despite the fact that the contractor has to stand behind his work and has to purchase and maintain equipment, possibly including a concrete truck? Markups are normal in any business, but seem to be seen as shady in the auto repair business in spite of the rather substantial overhead faced by these shops. Try calling up a Snap-On tool dealer and price up a mid-range scan tool with all current software updates, then price the most recent update assuming you already had the tool, just needed the updates, then keep in mind you will need those updates at least every year or so to remain competitive with the other shops in town. That is just one regular expense shops have to face.
One could fill up a composition book with the list of expenses a shop faces and in addition to what mark9207 listed there’s always that expensive issue of employee wages, benefits, uniforms, health care plan, etc, and of course the always present workers compensation premiums.
Speaking of markups, look at a hospital bill anymore. Many years ago one used to get a bill that stated the patient owed X dollars. Now it’s broken down into dozens of items and services.
Think about that 5 dollar band-aid, 10 dollar Tylenol tablet, or 15 bucks for a one-use pair of surgical gloves and consider the markup on things like that.
ok4450 makes an undeniably great point about the markup for supplies at the hospital. My son had to be taken in to the ER once because he spiked a high fever. The total cost to treat a two year old for a high fever for four hours was $2600 before insurance discounts and coverage took care of a good portion of the expense. Of the items on the bill, one that stood out was 5mL of children’s Tylenol for $18. A 100mL bottle of the stuff runs about $4 at Wal-Mart, so that is a markup of close to 10,000%. To apply the same markup, if you brought your car to me, and it was half a quart low, the cost of the oil required to top it off would be, conservatively, around $120. Good grief, take your car to the ER for an oil change and you would be looking at $1200 for the oil, $400 for the filter, and $1200 for occupying a triage room for a half hour.
I think maybe we should employ successful automotive repair shop owners to run hospitals. I have had friends who didn’t have medical insurance and were able to negotiate down the hospital bill by a considerable amount. I think health insurance is so expensive because hospitals find ways to run up the costs and the insurance companies aren’t able to get out of paying up. On the other hand, extended warranties on cars, which are really insurance, find all kinds of ways of not paying up.
In many ways, I think we are over-insured. I can insure myself for automotive repairs and save money. I have often thought that if health insurance had a deductible of say $2500, we could drive down the cost.
I have followed the hospital charges for a long time. The insurance companies have driven the minimum costs out of sight.
Around 1980, the college I was attending was given a new computer system, and one year of maintenance. The students were allowed unlimited usage. The programming instructor told me one night I had just used more CPU time on a simple program than she had used for her entire college degree.
The next year, each month each department got a bill for it’s usage percentage of total operating and maintenance costs of the system. After the screams of rage subsided, each department established maximum usage limits. The price per minute of usage, that is, total costs divided by minutes of usage, exploded, and the departments again shoved maximum usage down and down, until cost per minute became outrageous. Yet, most of the time the system was idle.
The incremental cost of that CPU running all the time was very small. But, a very cheap system became prohibitively expensive, thanks to the bean counter stupidity. (I am a certified bean counter, so feel free to be nasty about it.)
Though it isn’t exactly the same, a somewhat similar thing happened to hospital care. A lot of people went to the hospital, and daily costs were reasonable. Then, insurance companies decided to save money be reducing hospital usage. As the usage went down and down, the cost per visit or day also exploded.
This is because a hospital has to have a lot of stuff on hand, no matter how much it is used. Labs; cancer treatment equipment; surgery; pharmacies; x-ray labs; MRI; and things I don’t even know.
As usage goes down, the cost goes up. And, so desperately the insurance companies try to reduce further the usage.
Imagine what a car repair shop would be like if your mechanics were only busy 10% of the time. Of course, most shops would soon go out of business, with $1000 an hour billing. The problem is, there are geographic limits on hospitals going out of business and consolidating. No one wants to travel 250 miles to the nearest hospital.