Should I still pay the Mechanic for hours of service even if they didn't do anything?

The axle on my driver side went bad and needed to be replaced. Unfortunately, the CV Boot does not want to budge. After days of trying to get it out, I gave up and had it towed to an Auto Shop. They kept it for a week and said that they couldn’t remove it either. Do I owe them anything for trying?

That’s up to the shop. Personally, I probably would not charge for a failed attempt but there could be caveats to that.

What kind of car? It’s not the boot; it’s the joint. Is the joint stuck in the wheel hub or inside the transmission.

Thanks!. It’s stuck inside the transmission.

They get paid by the hour, they spent time trying to fix your problem. I my eyes, yes you owe them money.

They might offer to decline charging you just because they could not get it apart. That likely will come out of the mechanic’s pocket since they get paid by the “book hour”; i.e. the time the book says it takes to do the job no matter if they spend less time or more. That means they couldn’t spend that time actually earning money.

So, in a nutshell, if they present you with a bill, you owe them money. If they don’t present you with a bill, I’d ask which mechanic worked on the car and at least give the guy a $20 or so. Your call.

The policy in my shop is if I don’t fix it I don’t get paid.

This is for parts and labor. But, if consumables are used in the attempted repair, such as penetrating oils/or lighting up the blue wrench, I charge as least $20.00.


Okay. I’m not sure whether they will ask for anything or not. Just curious what usually happens in these situations.

As long as the cost is not completely unreasonable, then I wont have a problem.

It depends on what your agreement was with them when you left the car at their shop. You should have been required to sign some paperwork at the time. Did you? If not, might be a good idea to reconsider the future use of this shop.

If you did sign a pre-job agreement, the answer in on that form. Some shops charge for completing a job, others charge by the hour. I’d prefer to use a shop that charges by the hour myself.

hmm… back to the stuck part … So you’ve been able to remove the axel from the hub ok, but it the other end won’t pull out of the transmission?

Do you have the service manual procedure to doing that job? Maybe there’s a hidden circ-clip you have to remove first. Make sure to read what the service manual says, or a similar Chiltons/Haynes etc. Or maybe the inner CV joint has to be cut off the axel first. Some types of CV joints – especially common with foreign rebuilt non-OEM versions — cannot be removed from the axel without cutting them off. They slip onto the axel, but can’t be removed without destroying them.

If the splines on whatever inserts into the transmission are just stuck, it’s hard to imagine some combo of heat, penetrating lube, time, and slide-hammers couldn’t persuade it. If all else fails you can take the transmission out, and apart, then you’ll be able to remove the stuck parts together. Maybe they got so hot they welded themselves together.

I opine that you are at the mercy of the shop. They can demand payment up to the limit of the written estimate before the shop will release the car to you. If you refuse to pay, the shop will levy a ‘mechanics lien’ against the title. If you still refuse to pay, they can sell, auction, etc. to recoop the amount of the lien. If the lien sale nets more than the repair bill and legal costs, you will get the balance.

So try to negotiate a just settlement with them, cordially!

Unless you have a good relationship with the mechanics you can expect an hourly charge for services provided. Now in your situation, time put into the problem did not go towards a solution of the problem. In my world, if you find the problem and it takes time to diagnose it, I will pay the diagnosis fee. Now you want to charge me for a problem you cannot solve, I need to take it to a mechanic that can solve the problem I am thinking the diagnosis was fine, I owe you for that, but your inability to perform a repair is not my responsibility. I will give you $65 for an hour of analysis, but now need to take it to a shop that can perform the repair.

do you pay a professional whether it be a doctor, lawyer, accountant, plumber, hvac technician for an office/home visit?

Reply to @0ld_544 Yes I paid for an idiot that tried to service my furnace, had no clue, sorry you don’t have an upper limit heat switch as all of the sudden my humidifer rubber tube was melting and humidifier wick deforming due to heat after a new ac install, sorry the fan belt is wobbling, Crap I looked at it, shear pin had fallen out, and causing pulley to wobble, New ac condenser less air flow causing heat buildup to melt and warp the hose and water filter thing for humidifier.

Sure I called up and bxxxxed, sent an experienced guy out, turned down upper heat limit, put in a shear pin, did a few other missed items, no charge.

Sometimes the first stop is not the last stop.

Another issue going on in our life, DR (shakey hands) did a frozen nitrogen treatment on my wifes nose, created a crater, now she s a beautifl lady with a frickin crater in her nose. Dermatologist group will offer plastic surgery for free to make up for it, it bothers her greatly, and after talking to the plastic surgeon, cures are either injection every year or graft cartilage from her ear but nose will never be perfect. Beautiful lady puts car problems to shame.

barkydog: merely thinking about what’s right under the circumstances and one of the creeds of life which is “how would I wish to be treated”. Sorry, but my crystal ball doesn’t always work , but I do believe in being fair to my fellow man if he has put forth the honest effort to succeed. I never feel taken advantage of if I feel that I have received a best effort from the other party. I feel compensation and/or acknowledgement of effort pays off in the long run. sorry to hear you got a scam artist at worst or an underskilled worker at best. I don’t get the impression that this was the scenario here for the OP.

Yeah I think if they spent time on it and they give you a bill, then you need to pay it but they may decline like Tester said if they didn’t accomplish anything. Now if like George says, if they missed a clip or retainer or something that would have been in the procedure manual, that would be another story. But yet to figure out why the axle won’t come out.

I wish I could remember if I got charged or not. I got a speck in my eye from the table saw once and finally went to the emergency room on a Saturday. I thought it should be a simple matter of freezing the eyeball and picking the speck out just like an old doc had done at my FIL’s after getting a speck from the snow blower. Nope, he worked on me for over an hour rolling my eye lid and looking and finally gave up. He wanted me to wait until Monday and go to Minneapolis. I said just freeze the eyeball and pick it out but he was afraid. Weekend interns. Some are good, others need some more practice. At any rate after a couple hours and back home, I got it out myself. If they did send me a bill, I paid it anyway.

@GeorgeSanJose I actually did not sign anything when I dropped the car off. They have not provided the best customer service and have not called me once to tell me what’s going on. However, I agree with @old544, if they put forth an honest effort, I would not mind paying them.

It’s a Volkswagen and I really have tried everything. This is the CV Joint from Hell. Sliding Hammers, Crow Bars, you name it. I will give the shop another day to work on it and see where they get but my guess, is they will need to remove the transmission. At this point, i’m completely fine with that.


There are attachments for slide hammers, that help to remove cv axleshafts. The attachments look like a large C, and thread onto the slide hammer. Then they are placed behind the inner joint. Then a few pulls on the slide hammer usually pops the axleshaft free. I’ve used those, and they work quite well

Here’s something else I’ve done . . . Remove both axleshafts. And tap the stuck axleshaft out, from the other side

To be honest, when you said “Crow Bars” . . . that makes me a little nervous. I hope the shop didn’t really use that. Your transaxle is almost certainly aluminum, and “improper” use of a prying tool could cause damage

good luck

Maybe its time to try a VW dealer.

Turn the question around. If you spent a day working on a problem at your job but were unable to solve it, would you want to get paid for the day’s work anyway? I suspect you would.


I had a coolant leak in a1971 Ford Maverick while I was on the road. I stopped at the closest garage which happened to be a Dodge dealer. The problem was diagnosed as a defective freeze plug. The service department added water, gave me a jug of water and told me to keep an eye on the temperature warning light. The freeze plug was behind the transmission and the transmission would have to be dropped. I didn’t have time to leave the car, so I drove home. I tried to pay the service dept but they said they didn’t do anything and water was free. I took the car to my mechanic and he made the same diagnosis. He pulled the transmission but found it wasn’t the problem. Unfortunately, it was the heater core and its location on the air conditioned Maverick necessitated removal of the AC evaporator. I wanted to pay the mechanic for his time in removing the transmission, but he refused to accept any payment. A mechanic’s time is valuable and I can understand a mis diagnosis.

If I fail to accomplish what I was hired to do I can’t charge for it. Like @Tester, it just seems to be the best policy. I might charge the minimum shop fee but I don’t ever recall charging anything for failed attempts but I recall few failed attempts. And re that CV shaft, if the shaft on the opposite side is removed a long drift can be inserted through the spider to dislodge the splined shaft. It becomes a losing proposition but that’s just part of the glory of being a "professional’ mechanic.