Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

How much should it cost to replace a thermostat housing assembly on a 2004 Mazda6?

I think I’m being taken for a ride by the dealership. An engine warning light supposedly indicated that my cooling system was behaving erratically. Should that cost $88 in parts and $474 in labor??! This was discovered when I took my car in, as usual, for a routine (55,000 mile) service (oil change, filter, check fluids, rotate tires), which was an additional $108, for an out-the-door cost of nearly $650 after applying coupons, and I had to leave the car overnight and they charged me for a rental car that they promised would be free. Should I be looking for a different place to have my service work done?

Engine ?
2.3L, 3.0L, Or Mazdaspeed6 ?


@califdon can you post the receipt?
How much for parts?
How much for labor?
What was the labor rate?
Tax rate in your state?
What engine?

Without answering ALL of the above, you’ll get very different opinions.

In other words, if you can’t break down everything to account for the $650, you’re just ranting.

4 Cylinder? If so…

The price for the integral thermostat and housing is about right. The labor charge would be about 1.5 hrs of the hourly rate, $110-$120/hr for a dealer around here. $25 for coolant, taxes would throw it around $300 or so. Of course that doesn’t include any diagnostic charges that led to the determination that the t-stat needs to replaced.

You may want to ask your friends, co-workers and neighbors for a good local independent garage. The majority of us are honest, common-sense folks who prefer to do business with our own neighbors.

Of course there are some trade-offs. Dealers have shuttle service and loaner cars, we have a bus stop. Dealers have HDTV, fresh coffee and donuts, and leather seating. We have an old patio set and last year’s magazines.


Not so fast with downplaying the independent neighborhood garage. Mine has farm fresh eggs and honey available for purchase and a friendly dog for petting. The $45/hour labor rate and free computer diagnostics aren’t all that bad, either.


@common sense answer: I AM an independent neighborhood garage, though being in an urban area fresh eggs and honey have to come from on big trucks that leave them on your porch, and they cost twice as much as the ones in the rack at the supermarket. :slight_smile:

$45/hr labor? I figure an experienced, certified, well-trained, well-tooled, top-of-his-game-fix-anything kind of technician will earn about $30/hr. What kind of shop can be in business for $15/hr plus parts markup? Where do you live?

Labor rates around this part of Oklahoma have been traditionally some of the lowest in the country but even a local full serve gas station raised their rates to 65 an hour several years back.

Forty-five an hour for a garage seems extremely low and non-profitable but I suppose it might be passable if it’s a small one or two horse operation.

@ok4450: Wow. Here, you can expect $90 or so for us indys, though one “premier auto care facility” recently raised to $108. I imagine (hope!) that cost of living in general is lower as well. No one can make a living at a $65/hr rate anywhere near here.

A few years ago a guy came through here from Iowa. He was a good driveability/electrical guy and all-around general tech. Worked for $18/hr back home, sold his 3-bedroom home for $85K and moved to the Pacific Northwest. I had just sold my 1400 sq. ft. 35 year old house for $260K. I think he realized that no way can a mechanic support a family here on one income and moved back home.

The cost of living is much lower around here as compared to other parts of the country. Last time I was in a dealer to get some parts (a couple of years back) the Chevy/Buick dealer rate was 80 something an hour customer pay and I think warranty reimbursement rates were around 71.

That 65 an hour is for a generic gas station, convenience store but the real independents are up around 80 an hour.

Many think the bulk of that kind of money is free profit to go in someone’s one pocket and I’ve often stated on this forum that dealers for instance have expenses that independents do not have and many people are not aware of.

You may have noticed the GM corporate remodeling going on with Chevy dealers getting that large blue entrance way facade on the front of the building.
The Chevy dealer here is a small one compared to many and they just got done with the GM mandated remodeling; same as the local GMC dealer.
The article in the paper stated that the dealer was having to shell out about a million dollars for that remodel he was forced to do. Someone is going to have to pay for it; same as they will that illuminated “Certified Service” sign over the service entrance…

Dealers have a tremendous expense that none of the “customers” seem to think about when they complain about prices. They buy all the high-tech latest technology cars but don’t realize the cost of ownership. All the tooling, information, and training required to service them has to get paid for somehow. Not to mention the image and stock requirements dealers have. But I’m preaching to the choir here, right? Customer pay at the local Chevy dealer is $118.

Cost of living here in the Seattle area has gotten quite high. I’m guessing a $400K house here would be a $200K house in OK. But do mechanics make twice as much here?

Pay around here usually runs about 25-30% of the door rate at best and that’s flat rate; no guarantee. Some places may have a guarantee of some sort built in but none that I’ve worked for did. Sink or swim.
Thirty percent of a 90 dollar door rate may sound good to some but throw the flat rate system into the equation while havng a car apart waiting on an authorization with a stall tied up, waiting on parts, waiting on, yada, yada, yada… :wink:

The labor may sound high on the Mazda but I think some parts of the country have a 150-200 dollar door rate and multiplying that amount times the flat rate book can add up fast.

A year or so ago the median price of a home was about 117k here but I’m sure it’s gone up a bit as a number of higher end homes have been built.
Some retirees move here from other places as their retirement stretches further and there’s a fair number of Air Force officers who retire here after having served at the local base. The military pays way better than it used to.

@ok4450: About 10-12 years ago I had a really sweet gig. M-F 8-4:30, $25/hr flat rate OR hourly, whichever was more. So I was flat rate with a 40/hr guarantee and paid vacation, medical and IRA. The time I spent there I averaged 115%. Not bad. But it was a high-stress shop, always under the gun, and I found out the only reason he could get people to come and stay was to pay way better than anywhere else. I held out for 4 years then left to be the boss somewhere else for less money and a lot more happiness.

Ever wonder how many people out there would never ever even consider working in the true flat rate system for any hourly wage?

A true flat rate system, especially with warranty involved, can change someone’s attitude about life and most would probably be out of in very quickly. My late father could not believe that someone could actually work under a system like that after I explained it to him. :slight_smile:

We had a pretty good gig going at Nissan back in the 80s until the owner of the franchise attended a dealer meeting in Colorado.
He came back with the the Team Pay Plan concept which meant pooling everyone’s hours for the month and then dividing by the number of mechanics. Of course that meant the goof-offs would be getting the same check as the competent hard workers.
To make matters worse, I discovered after the plan started the company had also put the lot porter and detail guy onto the plan also even though neither were hour generating mechanics contributing to the pool at all.
Needless to say all hxxx broke loose and the pay plan got scrapped; an act for which I willingly take responsibility for. :slight_smile:

Can you imagine the sales dept. operating like this? One guy sells 4 cars that week and another sells 20 so both get paid for 12; leaving one happy and the other steaming.

@asemaster I worked flat rate at a dealer for many years. I learned a lot, but it was pretty stressful. Now that I’m a civil servant fleet mechanic, I can look back and shake my head. I miss working on the high tech cars, but everything else . . . they can have it.

Isn’t it also funny how things go around and you’re back to where you started, so to speak?

I started off as a civil service fleet mechanic, got bored, and wanted to see if I could cut it in the "real world"
So I did, for several years.
Now, I’m “back where I started” once again a civil service fleet mechanic (but a different employer and half way around the world)
I am now wiser and have no intention of leaving this gig until retirement comes around

I became a truck driver instead of a mechanic because I always found it was easier to break em’ than to fix em’.

Fixing them isn’t easy, but driving a big rig can’t be easy either. I “only” have an air brake class B, and they’re big enough. But anyone using their class A daily gets my respect.