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How much should a mass air flow sensor cost me?

I recently had the mass airflow sensor replace by a local garage on my 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix. I was looking at replacement parts online, and they seemed to be significantly cheaper than what they charged me for the part. When I asked them about the price difference they told me that they used the manufacturer’s part (I think the term they used was “OMC”) instead of using an after-market part, because the after-market sensor would probably only last a few months anyway. Is this true? And how much should this part have cost me if it really was the manufacturer’s and not an after-market part?

They probably said OEM: An automobile part may carry the designation OEM if it is made by the same manufacturer and is the original part used when building and selling the product. The term aftermarket is often used for non-OEM replacement parts.

Regardless, the mechanic probably charged you more for the part than he paid. Some non OEM parts are as good as or better than OEM, it can vary.

Yeah, they probably said OEM…

They put in an AC Delco part, on the invoice it reads “Air Mass Sensor”, and when they told me what the problem was they simply referred to it as a “air flow sensor”, which I assumed was the MAF, and when I read up on the diagnostic problems that a failing MAF causes, it sounded like it was what was wrong with my car… but now that I read up on the MAP I guess it really could have been either one. Since it runs now I guess I’d just have to look under the hood to check which part is new.

And once I actually read up on the problem and learned how easy it is to replace I would have rather done it myself, it’s just that they had my car for a few days and I was so eager to get it back that I really didn’t think about it until I had already told them to make the repair.

Either way, after checking the price for a Delco part on I’m pretty sure I got taken for at least $120 on the part, more if they didn’t even replace the core when the replaced the MAF (which is another $60 easy).

I probably won’t ever take my car back there again, which is somewhat disappointing, since the seemed nice enough and even gave me a quick list of other things that would need to be repaired in the future… although now I’m just wondering if they weren’t just baiting the hook to reel me in again.

I guess at this point I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do to get some of my money back. Though I realize I should probably just let it slide, but I’m a grad student and could really use that extra $120 they took me for.

It doesn’t sound to me like you got ripped off. You can’t really compare prices from sites like Rockauto to an OEM part that the shop purchased for you and installed. It is perfectly normal for a shop to markup parts at least somewhat and an OEM part isn’t the cheapest route to begin with. In addition, there was probably a diagnostic charge for discovering that the MAF was indeed the problem (also normal).

I don’t think you got ripped off, but I think that you used a cost ineffective strategy. If you can possibly fix a car yourself, you almost always should. Even considering the inevitable mistakes you will make that an inexperienced mechanic wouldn’t, your time and dollars will go a lot further if you do the work yourself. And parts will usually be cheaper than if you had a mechanic buy the part and resell it to you.

Consider that you got a $120 lesson in the economics of automobile repair and be thankful that it wasn’t a $1200 lesson.

Whats really going to tick you of is that 98% of the time just cleaning the MAF with the correct cleaner will resolve the problem, 5 bucks.

When I was turning a wrench for a living, the standard industry practice was 30% markup from what we paid, which was called the ‘jobber cost’ at the auto parts store. That 30% is for more than just profit. A shop ends up ‘eating’ a certain number of parts for a number of reasons, so you need a little margin on the parts you handle to cover yourself.

The price you see on Rockauto or similar discount on-line stores is pretty close to jobber cost for most parts. Therefore, if you paid something on the order of 130% of the Rockauto price, that is in line what what you would pay any other shop.

What frosts me is going to a dealer and paying three to four times online prices for the same part from the same manufacturer that I could get on line if I did not have a car in pieces all over my garage and was willing to wait a few days.

You can always find thing cheaper on the internet. However ordering a part online does not work well with mechanics business and majority of people’s schedules/lives. They want to get a part within an hour or few hours, not a day or few days. Part of the “extra” cost is getting a part delivered the day needed and quickly. There is also a markup on the price for for fair profit of mechanic.

Mail order is for DIY or a not so busy shop.

I just went thrpugh the same problem $265. for a maf sensor. Will check with dealer for the oem price on monday. Non oem going for $100. less.
Where is this sensor located on my '01 6.0 V8 GMC Denali XL?

I do not think you got ripped off at all. Your post is not the only one of it’s kind that has come across this forum. Lots of people, for whatever reason, will pay to have work done on their car, then start looking up the cost of the parts they had installed on the Internet, or call Autozone to have it quoted, then feel like they got ripped off because they could have gotten the part cheaper at Autozone or from a mail-order online source. It even happens sometimes in the repair industry, where a customer will come back to the shop angry because they went to autozone and found out they could have gotten the part cheaper than they were charged at the shop, and demand an explanation. Here’s the truth:

Every kind of business is in existence for two reasons: to provide a needed service and to make money. Like any other business, repair shop need revenue to pay their employees, utilities, insurance, and mortgage/rent. Sometimes equipment breaks and needs repaired. Scantools need to be updated periodically to work with the cars on the road. Alldata subscriptions need to be paid. Sometimes, a replacement part will fail before it’s time and the shop will have to eat the cost of the new part and the labor in order to keep the customer reasonably happy. All this can’t be covered by labor rates alone. Similar analogies can be made for other types of businesses as well. If you knew how much Walmart paid for that flat screen TV they’re selling for $900, it would probably make you sick…

msrp for oem maf is around 285.00. One thing that needs to be remembered is the repair facility provided you an oem part, not some off brand aftermarket part. Secondly is that part and labor came with a warranty. If that part fails, that shop is now doing that job for free. If you bring a part to a repair facility and have it installed and that part fails, then you will have to pay labor again.

Actually the margin on flat screen TV’s is razor thin. About 5-10% in most cases. The money is in the cables they try to sell you, the margin is staggering on those.