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I think someone charged my elderly father too much for a repair

My 87 year old father (not as sharp as he used to be) took a 2000 Toyota 4Runner in for brake problems. Mechanic said brake booster internal failure and leaking master cylinder. So replacing both Brake booster and master cylinder and bleed the system. Bill came to $1,488. $306 in labor (car dropped off yesterday and picked up today) and $1,099 in parts including $748 for a remanufactured brake booster. This seems really high to me and I’m worried this guy has ripped my dad off. I’m attaching the estimate if anyone wants to take a look. Would appreciate any input.

$748 for a remanufactured brake booster is highway robbery. I think I would pay the shop a visit.


It’s possible that the brake master cylinder leaked brake fluid into the brake vacuum booster.

And if this vehicle where brought into my shop and I found this, I’d replace these components too.

Plus the brake bleeding.

After all, we’re talking about BRAKES!


I just checked online at several auto parts stores. That brake booster runs about $150-$200 on average.

Rockauto has the booster for $260-$300, X2 for a shop = $520-$600.

What kind of repair shop was it? Chain? Dealer? Independent? What history has your dad had with the shop?

I’m a bit undecided on this. It is California; home to much higher prices. An estimate was given and work approved so no one was ripped off.

A shop can and should mark parts up. Did this shop get what could be considered excessive with the markup? I have no idea as I don’t know who their supplier is. Maybe their supplier is hitting them for 400 bucks for the booster. Who knows.

When I was working for Subaru and some automatic transmissions started disentegrating any customer who needed one was cursing everyone in the chain over that 5,000 dollar charge; just for the the trans alone. No fluid, exhaust gaskets, or labor.
The dealer cost on the trans was 4,000 dollars so they’re barking up the wrong tree.

Tester is also dead on correct again. I’m currently going through the same thing on my Lincoln as the booster failed the other day and a seeping master cylinder was the cause of it all.
It’s also been a royal PITA and not done yet. Roughly 6 hours just to remove the booster… :frowning:

Thanks everyone for your input! It seems to me that the shop charged a premium for the part, but maybe it’s not as much out of line as I originally thought. I agree a shop should mark parts up, but is the standard markup for parts really double??

Not sure we are dealing with a totally crooked shop here, but I certainly will encourage my dad to go elsewhere in the future. This shop has been my dad’s regular place for several years. My dad is not very knowledgable about cars and as I mentioned at 87 years old he is definitely not as sharp as he used to be. He needs a mechanic he can trust and this shop has failed that test in my opinion.


I suggest you edit the repair order . . . Your dad’s name and address is on it

Whatever price you find on rockauto for a part, figure at least double if a shop is sourcing the part for you.

Whatever the shop payed for the part, they’ll want to make a profit on it, also

Maybe the shop’s parts supplier is overcharging them for parts, also

I also live in southern California, so I know it’s pricey.

I’m on the fence as to whether this is highway robbery

I’m not sure you should scratch the shop off your list just yet

Call a few other shops in the vicinity of that shop and ask them what they would have charged for the same job. I’m not sure you’ll get a ballpart estimate over the phone, but it can’t hurt to ask. Make sure to say you’d like a ballpark estimate for the booster AND the master cylinder, with a brake fluid flush

BTW . . . there is a slight discrepancy. You talk about a 2000 4Runner, but the invoice mentions a 1994 4Runner

I think the prices are high, but not highway-robbery level. Certainly your dad’s life is worth far more. Be glad the brakes are fixed and working properly. And take your dad to lunch. I’m sure he’s worth it.

Be active if you can in his future auto repair decisions, but let this one go. It isn’t enough to ruin his life.

I dunno. I learned to just accept what my dad did. At 89 he insisted on going to the GM dealer for everything. I thought he got over charged all the time but he liked them and trusted them and worked for them after he retired. The work was always done well with OEM parts and he was satisfied. Maybe he paid more than I would have but the price was more important to me than him. So maybe your dad paid an extra $400 or so but if the work was ok and he feels good about it, I’d leave him be.

I’d expect about $225 for the master cylinder, and 1 hour labor, including bleeding. Add $50 if you’ve got ABS. The OEM brake booster parts cost is around $1100. And 2 hours of labor.

So if you went OEM parts all the way

200 == $1625

So I think you might have gotten clipped a little on the deal maybe what with the remanufactured booster, but not enough to worry about. If the brakes are working correctly on your dad’s car, and it is safe to drive, I’d say “good enough”.

I can’t seem to see the invoice you attached.

I show a list price of $658.12 for a quality reman brake booster and $215.92 for a new master cylinder. As for whether list price is really double of cost, well, it can be. But does that matter? A shop can bill out labor at $100/hour but the only pay the mechanic doing the work $25/hour.

I ran a shop until recently. When sourcing parts, price was far down the list of factors. First was quality, second was availability, third was warranty/vendor support, fourth was name brand recognition, then I might consider price.

Rockauto is irrelevant. They show a brake booster for $259, you’d also have to pay the $50 core until you shipped your old part back to them, and $60 shipping unless you want to pay only $11 but have to wait a week and not have a car for that time.

I had a fairly successful operation if I may say so, and I never put any effort at all into saving a customer money. The goal was to provide quality friendly service, fix the car properly and completely the first time in a speedy time frame using the best parts available, and the price was whatever it turned out to be. Whenever a customer told me my prices were a little higher than the rest but we did quality work and he trusted me, I took that as a compliment that I had met all their expectations.

Reconsider whether your dad’s mechanic isn’t trustworthy because he’s expensive. Would you tell dad to quit going to his favorite restaurant because he can get a chicken dinner for $5 less somewhere else?

Until about 10 years ago the hospitals used to send out bills that were different from the current versions.

The old ones would have everything used on you listed individually.
Quantity 1 Aspirin 5.00
Quantity 1 Gauze bandage 10.00
Quantity 14 pair Latex gloves at 10.00 each
Quantity 1 OTC Tylenol 8.00
And on and on.

Should this mean the hospital is ripping patients off? Pricy, but there’s a reason for it.


The invoice showed the dad’s complete name and address . . . and I suggested he edit the invoice

I guess OP simply removed the link entirely :frowning:

Too bad, because it was written up okay, IMO. Part numbers, prices, labor and parts were broken down. Complaint, cause, correction. A decent repair order

I agree; the repair order was very clear and professional and actually provided a paragraph about what was inspected, the issue, and what caused it.
They should all be like this.

I think the shop was fine. And the father has used them for years, apparently without complaint.

Some things just cost $$$.

OK…I will amend my “highway robbery” comment to just say that your father was likely overcharged for the part. I guess I’m out of the loop when it comes to vehicle repair charges. I always fix my own vehicles except for alignments and transmission work. You have to admit, however, that the price for the remanufactured part was quite steep. I understand markup for a part but I also understand highway robbery.

I do agree; the part pricing does seem high. I just got done with a brake booster and master cylinder job on my car and the booster was about 165 bucks and the reman master cylinder was about 60. That’s in OK and on average everything around here is lower than other parts of the country.
Heck, you can buy a brand new 3 bed, 2 bath 2 car attached garage in a new addition for 135-140k dollars around here.

The unknown part of this to me is where they source their parts and how much the California Effect plays in it.

There’s such a wide variation on pricing based on location and parts used. For example if you look on rockauto for a power booster for the Toyota mentioned here the first part that comes up is a brand that is the lowest priced but is also of such poor quality I wouldn’t use it as a doorstop, not to mention to repair someone’s car.

The same for master cylinders. I recently started a new job, and the first week I was doing brakes on a Chevy pickup. Parts came and I was given a reman master cylinder. I promptly informed the office that I would not be installing that one and to order me a new one.

In the Seattle area the house that @ok4450 describes would sell for about $300K, provided you want to live 35 miles out of town. In the city, closer to $500K.

I ran a shop until recently.
How do I ask why you changed without hijacking this thread?
I often talk to youth about entering the automotive field, and am curious about your situation. You apparently ran a successful operation.

Maybe this should be answered elsewhere to not hijack this thread.