This about takes the cake



Recently, I aquired a nearly mint 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham from the original owners. Here in Missouri we have inspections, so I took it in to the mechanic I’ve used for years, but have recently been having doubts about.

Sure enough, it failed with the reasons “Centerlink Play” and “Idler Arm”. The bill they wanted to fix this amounted to just over $500.

I verified the idler arm was bad, but wasn’t sure about the centerlink as they rarely fail. Anyway, a quick look at our local auto parts store gave me the price of $11.99 for the idler arm and $49.xx for the centerlink.

Compare this to the $68.xx the mechanic wanted for the idler arm and the $177.xx he wanted for the centerlink. This price did NOT include installation. This was the price for the part only.

Now, I’m all for people making a profit, but when you charge me $177.xx for something I know you are getting for less than $50 I take issue with that. The same goes for charging $68.xx for a $12 part.

So, I bought the parts myself and spent Saturday afternoon changing it all out. Afterwards, when I cleaned up, I sat down and wrote a long letter to my now ex-Mechanic. I took issue with the fact that as a loyal customer for years I was being taken to the cleaners for parts. Not only has he lost one customer with a car, but he has lost the business of all 7 of our cars.

Now, I am sure some people will come back with the argument “They need special training and tools”. Sure, I agree with that, but the special tools required for this job was a 18mm socket, 18mm wrench and a tie rod separator (which my local auto parts store loaned me). The special education required was 5 minutes spent looking at the service manual.

My point here? I guess there isn’t one other than it is best to learn to do this stuff yourself. When your mechanic starts charging more than your doctor you know you have a serious problem.


Why didn’t you talk to your mechanic about this? Perhaps you could have made a deal, or negotiated a better price. I hate to alienate a reliable mechanic.

Maybe I’m lucky, but the mechanics I deal with don’t charge exorbitant prices. They charge more for parts than I would pay at my local parts store, yes, but I expect that because that’s one of the ways they make their money.

Doing it yourself almost always saves money, but as you get older it’s harder and harder to do, or just too annoying. There are some jobs I will gladly pay someone else to do.


its like that here in missouri, service is horrible, its taken me 4 weeks and still going to get my bike fixed in springfield


There is no point in sending that letter. You’ll just alienate a mechanic that you may someday need desparately for a more complicated repair. If I were in your position, I’d just quite using him until such time as you can get satisfaction elsewhere. THEN put him on notice that you won’t allow him to gouge you on parts prices, or you will supply the parts yourself. Expect him to charge extra for using your parts though.


McP is on the right track, politely suggesting you should have worked this out with your mechanic rather than act out of rage.

In all likelihood this fellow was quoting you the price of genuine Cadillac OEM parts, which some owners insist on having. You instead found a bargain in cheap aftermarket parts. That does not make him a crook.

Consider making peace with him. Call it a misunderstanding. Finding another reliable mechanic is not so easy.


You may have missed a few points here.
One, how do you know the mechanic is getting the part from the same source?
Compare these examples:

Porsche Bosch CIS
fuel distributor.

0 438 100 027
FD20X Fit’s
928 4.5 9-77 to 7-79 US
4.5 5-77 to 7-82 Euro
928 4.7S 9-82 to 7-83 Euro
Add to Basket

Bosch CIS fuel distributor.

Bosch Fuel Distributor
FD22X Porsche 911,
78-79. 2994cc engine
Exchange re manufactured
Add to Basket

SAAB & Volvo
Bosch CIS fuel distributor.

Bosch Fuel distributor
Saab 900 79-81
Saab 99 78-80 99
Volvo 240,DL,GL

To this:

Essentially the same part.

The mechanic and shop also has to pay for something you do not if you DIY; it’s called overhead.


This stuff has been going on for years; is nothing new. Consider too that your mechanic has to take some of his time to order these parts. In this case, the diagnosis was already done but he still has to verify someone else’s opinion and I would too with tort lawyers and the BBB waiting around for some action. The part price relieves pressure on the hourly rate which is always frightening. As was said, your mechanic needs to cover his overhead including insurance, heat, rent, accounting, retirement fund, tool depreciation, repair bulletins, new tools and so on.

Yes, you can combat this with DIY and so many do that.


The part price relieves pressure on the hourly rate which is always frightening. As was said, your mechanic needs to cover his overhead including insurance, heat, rent, accounting, retirement fund, tool depreciation, repair bulletins, new tools and so on.

BULL…The mechanic should have a REASONABLE price increase to cover overhead…NOT a 300% increase. That’s ridiculas.

OK may be right on the price though…The part the mechanic uses may NOT be from the same manufacturer that you bought. Different parts manufacuters have different prices. Places like ADAP and PepBoys have lower prices…but I know very few mechanics who buy from them due to their reputation for inferior parts. Great place for Wax though.


Ok, let’s look at the facts here. I’ve used the same guy for years, I’m repeat business. Yet I’m supposed to “make a deal” with him? He knows I own SEVEN CARS. So he made the decision to screw me over in price and now he is going to pay the consequences of it.

It’s not like he was top-notch or anything. Average about sums it up. I could get the same service elsewhere, and will.

300% markup is out of this world. And he wasn’t using Cadillac parts – he was using NAPA parts just the same as I was.

Again, my doctor does not charge this much for a 60 minute comprehensive examination – and I assure you that he has a lot of training and “overhead” than a mechanic does.


I feel your pain. I just had a similar experience with my mechanic whom I’ve been using for several years. Went in for a bad fuel pump, ended up paying $1,026.00 to fix it. He replaced pump, sending unit and gas tank…all with aftermarket parts. I saw the old parts afterwards and the tank was still fine, I think he just didn’t feel like scraping the old gasket off. He charged me $700 for the parts…I could have bought the exact same parts for less than $300. This is on top of the $90/hr labor I’m paying for. In reality, he’s making over $200/hr, not bad pay. I won’t be using him anymore.


Exactly. There is a reason a gasket costs about $2 and the whole part can cost several hundred. If all they are going to do is throw on a new part I’d rather take my chances and replace the gasket myself and save a bundle. If I screw up, fine, then I’ll get the new part.


In hindsight it might have been a good idea to at least give the mechanic a chance to explain his justification of the charges. I think that would have been fair even if you ultimately didn’t agree with it. However, there doesn’t seem to be much point now.

Unless you plan to DIY everything from now on, I suppose you’ll eventually find another mechanic. One thing I noticed that might be missing from your consideration when discussing justifiable charges. Directly or indirectly you are also paying a good mechanic for his expertise in diagnosing a problem, not just his expertise and training in repairing a problem. In fact, there are many repair jobs well within the capabilities of “shadetree” mechanics. Sometimes the hardest part for DIYers is in diagnosing what is wrong. Once a proper diagnosis is made the actual mechanical repair may not be very complex.

So that leads one to think why is the mechanic charging so much for this repair? Well, just don’t overlook the value of diagnosing the problem. Now, that still doesn’t justify overcharging of parts but I would like to have gotten a more complete picture with the mechanic’s explanation.


300% markup is out of this world. And he wasn’t using Cadillac parts – he was using NAPA parts just the same as I was.

If you BOTH were buying from the same place (NAPA) then he was definately screwing you. First off NAPA discounts to mechanics, so he wasn’t paying anywhere NEAR what you were paying…so it’s probably close to a 400% marketup. The HONEST mechanics I deal with charge me the same price for the same part that I will pay. They buy it cheaper then mark it up to what retail is…NOT 300% over RETAIL.

Not too sure I would have written a letter. I just never would go to them again.


he was giving you the shaft,you knowit,he knows it,time to find a new mechanic hell if it were a big job it would probably be cheaper to trade.


I stand corrected; the hourly rate is NOT frightening.


You should have just purchased the parts yourself and brought them to the mechanic, and then tell him you’ll pay + 5% or whatever for the money he’s losing on the parts.

Just about all mechanics I’ve dealt with (except dealers obviously), have no problem when you bring them the parts. It means they don’t have to lay out the cash and don’t have to worry about warranty on the parts either.


Our local mechanics that are decent allow you to bring in the parts. However the job turns into hourly so if your part is wrong one you pay for the install and deinstall. Also no warranty. Most actually upcharge on the labor rate if you bring your own parts.

I think its mostly a lose lose situation for the customer.