Repair shop pricing



I tried a new shop this week for my 88 Toyota. Among other things, they pulled and replaced the spark plugs. When I got the bill, this little service was billed at over $60, including $5 bucks each for 4 spark plugs (NGK nickel). I asked the person behind the desk why so much? The answer was that they charge per the flat rate book for labor (36 minutes). My reply to this was “Does that seem reasonable to you? Over $40 for labor to change plugs and $5 for the same plug I can walk into any parts store and buy for three bucks?”

The answer was, “That’s what we charge.” When I suggested that it should be a little less, they got really surly. Not at all like their TV ad.

MY QUESTIONS: Am I a moron? Is this the standard practice in all repair shops? Do I need to find a shop that doesn’t run TV ads?


Yeah, that’s a fair price. Somebody has to pay for all that equipment, expertise, tools, real estate tax, heat, lights, and stogies. Running a shop ain’t cheap.

The shops you want to avoid are the ones that leave the car on the lift and come out to you with a laundry list of things that “absolutely need to be done immediately” in areas totally remote from where the requested work was done.


You’re not a moron at all; simply unaware of the very long list of expenses that have to be paid out of that amount. TV ad or not, labor rates in a specific area are generally close to each other usually follow what the market will bear.

All or most shops work on the flat rate system and parts are marked up. Failure to make a profit on parts and labor means the shop will be closed and you will be doing this job yourself.


Yes, you are a moron.
Yes, you need to find an INDEPENDENT/LOCAL (which is not a national chain) shop which you can trust, and develop a business relation with them. Visiting places with large TV advert budgets, for their weekly “specials”, will only get you grief. Use this site’s search feature to locate a mechanic in your area-link below:

Yes, I agree…$60.00 is a reasonable charge for changing 4 plugs. When was the last time you had them changed?
I suggest that in the future, you ask that no work be done on the car unless you’re consulted first about the cost. This should prevent any misunderstandings.


$60 actually sounds kinda cheap to me. Though I don’t have the paper handy right now, I think the charge for my Civic was $75 for plugs and wires