What should a mechanic charge for auto parts?

I was charged $390.40 and $10.00 for freight for a part at a local garage that replaced the part on my car. I could have purchased the same exact part for $135.00 at an auto parts store. Is it normal for a garage to charge so much for the same part or was I taken for a ride?

Having worked for an uncle who owned a garage, and being around the biz for awhile in my mispent youth, shops normally mark up parts 100 percent…meaning, if they buy it for $20, they charge you $40.

They also buy pretty much from the same one or two parts houses for a number of reasons, reliability of getting the part quickly is one, and quality is another.

So, if the part you see from XYZ Discount auto parts and dance studio was an “American Widget Brand” part #34567 and they also replaced with the exact same brand, exact same model number etc., and paid the same price you did, well, maybe you paid a bit much.

But, if your mechanic bought the part from Sanford and Sons Auto parts at a much higher price, you can’t really fault the mechanic.

As I say, they build a business relationship with a parts house and stay with them, primarily. Although you would think they would try to stay with a place with competitive pricing.

If, you are not happy, you can try other garages.

It’s normal to mark the parts up. What I’ve generally seen is about a 100% on the inexpensive stuff and tapering off as the price of the part becomes higher.

What kind of part are we talking about? Does “exact same” mean the same brand right down to the part number?
Also, many garages are very busy and get in the habit of doing business with 1 or 2 parts houses. The hectic pace does not allow them time to comparison shop on every part needed during the day.
If they did this then they would need a full time employee and a dedicated phone line just to handle the parts chasing that goes on all day long.

Yes… same brand right down to the part number…
I was charged for a water pump, serpentine belt, tensioner, and timing belt kit. All part numbers reflect those of Gates. I asume a part number for Gates would not be the same as another manufacturer. I searched all part numbers that were on my bill and was able to locate all parts at numerous locations at a fraction of the cost. $28.00 vs. $65.71 / $65.00 vs. $156.24 / $60.00 vs. $130.36 / $135.00 vs. $390.40.
Thanks for your reply. Your information is very helpful.

Shops have to warrant their work. They tend to buy from reputable distributors who carry only high quality parts. Where I live most service stations seem to purchase from NAPA. Sure you can buy cheaper, but the shop doesn’t want to do the work twice.

They should charge what they tell you they are going to charge. There is no right or wrong here. As long as they did not indicate it would be less, that’s the way it is. Remember that if they don’t make money on the parts, and they could do it that way, they would just have to charge you more for labor.

Also consider that getting parts for you is a bother for them, it takes there time that they are not billing your directly for. They also are ordering low volume so they end up paying more than some other possible sources.

Yes many are, and IMO should be reluctant to let you supply a part. What if the part fails or is of poor quality? Who pays for what?

Can anyone expect to get paid working at a business which buys at wholesale and then re-sells at wholesale? What is the profit margin on furniture? Jewelry? Clothes??? We enjooyed steaks tonight. With the potatoes and salad they were $32.00 each. I can buy the ingredients for less than $10.00 but I enjoyed myself and someone else did the work so I smiled and left a nice tip.

Generally, a shop will get a 30-50% discount on parts and then will mark them up to cover the time to handle the part and the cost of warranting the labor. After they mark it up, what they charge you should be close to what you can buy the part for at the same place. Parts houses that primarilly sell to do-it-yourselfers, however, usually give better prices to regular folks, but don’t give deep discounts to shops. If the mechanic bought from the source that’s cheaper to you, he’d still have to mark it up and it’d cost even more!

That said, the figures you gave us does seem like a pretty big difference. You might politely call them and tell them about your concerns and maybe they could give you an explaination. Don’t expect them to refund anything, though, and there’s certainly nothing legally wrong with this practice. Also, sometimes shops will charge more for parts and less for labor because it looks better, or so they don’t have to pay their flat-rate mechanics as much!

In the past when time has allowed I have tried to buy my own parts. I make a deal with the shop, stating if the part fails I am willing to cough up dough for the repeat labor. Granted “failure” has a wide range of definitions, but these have generally been parts that don’t have too much possibility of failing due to poor labor. Oxygen sensor was one and brake rotor and pads was another.

although i am NOT a mechanic by trade; your dilemma is made by supply and demand.

you must ensure that the problem is NOT the price but the demand for the merchandise!

Rebuilt parts like alternators and starters are notorious for failing after a short period. You would obviously would want it replaced free if it failed. When I was in the repair business, I marked up parts higher because people felt better about paying for parts than labor. What matters is the total cost out the door. Sears has tool kits and you can do it yourself if the price is too high. Oh wait, you shop at Wallmart!

I’d find another mechanic. Most mechanics parts prices are will in line with what I can buy the part for. They usually pay less then what I pay for the part…then mark it up to be equal to what I pay. Many times their price is LESS then what I can buy the part for. Those prices are well above any markup.