Was I overcharged for starter?

I have a 2000 Plymouth Grand Voyager with 107,000 miles on it. I made the decision not to buy a newer one and to put money in to this one. So I got 4 new tires and the starter was beginning to act up.

I called the place that put the tires on and asked them to give me a price for a starter. The owner (an elderly gentlemen) gave me a quote of $169.00. I thought it was great and ended up making the 15 mile drive two times to have it installed because the first time, it never arrived.

So I go to pay for it and the daughter hands me a bill for $395.00. I told her that her father had quoted me $169.00 and even if you add the hour it took to install, we were only at $225. She said, “Well he was wrong”. No offer to make an adjustment.

I came home and looked up a OEM starter and it was $157 on line. Was I taken?

And to add insult to injury the starter “screams” when I turn it on.

does it scream while you initially turn the key, or does it scream when you let off the key, for about 1 second?

Many companies make starters for your vehicle. They are of different quality. Some are new and some are rebuilt. It is likely the father gave you a price for an aftermarket or a rebuilt component. When the supplier could not come through, the shop had no choice but to go to a dealership for a new OEM starter. These are always more costly. And it is normal for a garage to add its own markup for all parts.

This is one possibility. If it happened this way you were not overcharged. It was a fair deal. But the shop certainly could have handled the communications better.

Take it back, ask to talk to the ‘elderly gentleman’ owner and request billing justification while scheduling the starter replacement.

That starter motor is a 30 minute change out (excluding coffee breaks) nothing more and is available online from $40 - $150. $400 is way over the top.

They are wrong, you are right and I’d be very hard nosed about it.

No. You weren’t overcharged. You asked for the price of the STARTER. Not the price of the starter plus installation. I’m always asked how much a certain part costs. But unless they ask how much is the part plus installation, I just give them the price of the part. because that’s what was asked.


I agree with Scudder. Car dealers get away with, “Here’s your bill. Pay the cashier to get your car keys.” Period. An independent shop, usually (unless it’s gotten too big and bad) doesn’t operate that way. Speak UP to be heard!
The lowest price I saw for a re-manufactured starter (from Auto Zone, or Advance Auto Parts) $99. For a new starter: $158. Highest price: Beck Arnley brand (a well-considered brand): $260.
Any part that you would pay retail 100% for, directly, will cost you about 150% as an installed part. Every shop does a parts price markup. It’s the normal course of business.

I agree with your point Tester, but this is a starter motor not a timing belt. Even allowing for a $200 price for the starter (which is the New price from Plymouth) how does the shop justify $200 for labor?

Some starters can be a real bear to replace. Some just take twenty minutes to swap out, and others can take hours to replace because you have to remove other unrelated components just to get at and remove the starter.


I agree, try an E’Type Jaguar if you ever get the oppotunity…oh how we laughed…

But a Grand Voyager starter will fall on the ground if you remove the bolts, just looked at my neighbors, 30 minutes tops.

Thank you for your input on whether I was overcharged. I do think I will contact them and request some consideration for an adjustment. Even with a 150% markup, the cost of labor was $55 so the bill should have been closer to $300.00. I had to wait for the car and it took them about 45 minutes to install it although there was a coffee break in there too.

As to the screaming, it occurs after you release the key and the car has started.

I also thought some consideration should be given to me since I had just bought four tires from them although I felt the price for the tires was fair.

if the screaming is when you release the key, i would suspect a defective starter anyway. i think you need to go back there and have them start the car to listen to the scream too. they can do that while you are discussing the bill.

in my opinion, i think you got charged the high side of normala, but i have heard of worse… but, since you were quoted one price, and got another, well… thems fighting’ words for my wallet!

There’s some missing info but offhand I don’t think there is anything out of line here.
Break the bill down further.

How much was the starter? How much labor? How much sales tax, shop supplies, enviro fees, etc. if applicable?

The shop can, and should, mark the price of the starter up a bit and there is no law that says that labor should be figured strictly on how long it takes or what a labor guide states.
For those that think labor should be figured on a “real time” basis only then a mechanic could gladly make a 1 hour job a 4 hour one if desired.

Usually shops stay pretty close to the flat rate time given in the book, BUT those flat rate books usually have a foreword in the front that the time given may not include diagnosis or allowances for problems encountered; rusted bolts, etc.
As to the “scream” the only thing I can think of would be if the starter is staying engaged (faulty starter, electrical problem in the vehicle wiring, etc.) Maybe the latter is responsible for the first starter going on the fritz???

You need to understand that labor charge is not by the hour by most shops. Its per the book rate in the estimating manual. Sometimes it takes them much longer, sometimes a bit shorter but they give a single price for estimation.