Reasonable Cost to Replace Sway Bar Links

Hello

I recently had some knocking sounds coming from my suspension. I took it to my mechanic, he said it was a bad ball joint. Ok, so I took it back to him a few days later to replace the ball joint.

I go to pick up the car and he said it would be $500. Once I picked myself up…I said “for one ball joint?” He then told me that it was actually the sway bar links and bushings. I knew how much I should pay for the ball joint but I had no idea about the sway bar links so I paid him. Nevermind the fact that he should have called me before doing the unexpected repairs.

Now I look at the auto parts stores and the most expensive parts for mine only total around $100. He charged me $150. I don’t have a much of a problem with the markup. The problem I have is the labor cost of $350. I’m curious if this is reasonable . If it is then fine but if not…I’ll need to find another mechanic.

No, labor cost should be 1.5 hour for both side.It really depends on how difficult a job to remove them.Some links are rusted badly and you have to cut them off.

Without seeing the invoice for - hour rate - parts list - where you are - was alignment done there is no way to say if charges were correct or not.

The invoice had 2 lines.

Sway Bar Link Kit with Bushings $149.99
Labor $351.87

I guess I need to just go over and ask him why the labor was so high. Like I said, if it’s reasonable then I have no problem with it but I feel like I’m being taken a bit.

Just called another shop in town and asked them and they told me $312 parts and labor.

Did it mention how many hours of labor you were charged for or the hourly rate? The hourly rate can be vary a lot depending on where in the country you live

No, he didn’t break it down like that…just a total cost. Usually I see between $65-$90/hour where I am.

What year is this expedition?

For example, Chilton shows about 1.5hrs labor to replace front sway bar links and bushings on a 2008 Expedition. I’m not sure if that’s the same body style as yours. It seems your mechanic overcharged you on labor, unless your truck is so rusty, that it required a herculean effort to replace the parts. Sounds like the second shop’s charges are more in line with what I would expect to see.

If the mechanic specifically said you had a bad ball joint, when it fact it was the sway bar links and bushings, then he needs to work on his communication skills, in my opinion. Bad ball joints are a more serious problem, versus sway bar links, in my opinion, and I wonder if he purposefully said ball joints, so that you would go for the repair? More than likely poor communication on his part, or maybe he doesn’t actually know the proper terminology?

Yep, insult him…that’s the way to get good service…

;-]

That’s why I posted here… To see if it was reasonable. I don’t want to insult him if it’s even close to reasonable … But if he charged me $200 too much then I don’t care about insulting him.

The broken ones have one side loose already. Mine are always rusted so i just torch them off. Takes less time than turning hardware…I’d just chalk it up to lesson learned. You’ll be wiser next time. Asking for money back will burn that bridge anyway…

That’s a good point. The time to question it was when I was there. The guy does good work so I don’t want to burn that bridge over this. However, if I take it back to him I’ll stress for him to call me before he does anything.

Thanks for the feedback guys.

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There may have been some diagnostic time involved prior to him figuring out the problem was the sway bar links rather than the ball joint. If so, that’s to your benefit, as you didn’t get billed for replacing a ball joint that didn’t need replacing, and ending up with the problem still unsolved. The mechanic has to charge a reasonable fee for his time, otherwise it wouldn’t be worthwhile for him to come to work. If you can figure out a way to encourage your mechanic to give you a $$ estimate first, then if things change during the job to call you first before proceding, you’d probably be more satisfied with his work, and he with you as his customer.

I don’t think you’d be burning bridges if you go back and ask (in a non-confrontational manor!) for an explanation for why it took so long/cost so much labor to replace the sway bar links.

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Just some food for thought, but he could have charged some extra if the links were very difficult to remove.
Note that the foreword in many labor guides will state that the book is a guide only and that allowances can be made for charging extra due to missing or butchered parts, rust, etc, etc.

Also note that with most salvage yards they do not disassemble a sway bar by unfastening the sway bar links.
They torch them into just for the sheer reason they can often be very difficult to remove. It’s then left to the purchaser of the used sway bar to remove the remaining halves of the torched links.