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When is it ok to take your own parts to a mechanic? I need the shocks changed on my 91 Toyota ExCab but the “very reputable” mechanic in my area wants to charge me close to $600 for them. I know the parts are only $240 of the cost…

Never. You will get no guarantee from him for the parts, and maybe not the labor since he doesn’t know where you got the parts from. If you don’t like his price, get another couple of estimates.

I have had good results with Sears and their sales specials. I would get a free estimate from them, and then decide if the discount is worth it. All of my suspension work done at Sears over the years has been done correctly. I get the lifetime warranted parts.

Is that a $600 installed price, or $600 for parts, labor extra?

It generally a bad idea to buy your own parts and have a mechanic install it. He can refuse to honor the parts warranty if the parts prove to be flawed or defective. And, if it has problems due to a defect, he can claim not to be on the hook for the labor portion, since his work wasn’t at fault. This leaves you to pay to have the part removed, send it off to get the warranty honored, and pay to re-install the replacement part. Most mechanics do add a small surcharge to parts, but generally will honor the parts and labor warranty if the parts show to be defective.

The only time I take my own parts to a mechanic is when it is a custom add-on or non-OEM performance upgrade.

There is only one time when I take parts to the mechanic and that is for my 1978 Oldsmobile if I can get the part when it is inconvenient for him. For my other, newer cars, I let my mechanic buy the parts. Does he make a profit on the parts? I hope so. He has to run down where he can get the part and order it. That takes time. He either has to go after the part or have it delivered.

A good portion of their income derives from parts markup. They more than likely wouldn’t be able to keep the doors open & lights on without it. (let alone a boat payment…lol) I doubt many would go for you bringing parts in, or they would raise labor rates to makeup for it, and there still would be no guarantee.

I’ve been using the same shop for many years. About 1.5 yrs ago my engine dropped a valve seat & was destroyed. I found another car of same year with a not so good body but good motor cheap on Craigslist. I brought them both cars and had them swap the motor & transmission (lower miles) over to my dead car. I stripped the other car & my old engine for all of the parts that I could. They knew this b/c I did some of the stripping there at the shop.

Now, every once in a while I can bring them my car with one of those parts & they don’t mind b/c they know me and they know I would take it out on them if something doesn’t go quite right.

That’s about the only time I can think of, though lots of smaller shops will be fine about it for certain kinds of salvage yard parts and/or other hard to find things as mentioned by Triedaq. This kind of thing wouldn’t apply to shocks though.

Did you ever happen to look at how easy it is to install shocks? I think I could change the rear shocks in my van faster than I could change a tire.

I’ll install parts the customer provides and just charge labor. Not a big deal. However, if there’s a problem with the part while still under warranty and it requires replacement, I’ll have to charge labor again to replace the part. I didn’t buy the part, the owner of the vehicle did.

I just had an example of this. I installed a set of quick struts in a vehicle a year ago almost to the day. One of the upper strut bearings failed on one of these remanufactured strut assemblies. The remanufactured strut has 12 month/12,000 mile warranty. There were two days left on the warranty. I called the parts store, explained the situation and was told to come and get the replacement strut assembly at no charge. And since I warranty my repair labor for the same 12 months/12,000 miles, the owner of the vehicle got a new strut assembly installed free of charge.