Knowing how much it's going to cost to repair your vehicle is your best defense against being overcharged by the mechanic. While sites that allow you to review certain shops and the Internet at large have greatly reduced the practice of mechanics overcharging, it does still happen. Arm yourself with the knowledge of basic repair costs when it comes time to seek automotive repair.
What Determines the Cost of Automotive Repair?
There are several factors that go into repairing any vehicle. Understanding each of the variables in this equation will help you understand how much you should be charged:
- The exact problem with the vehicle
- The type of facility you take it to (dealership or independent mechanic) or if you repair it yourself
- Typical labor rates in your area
- The model, make and year of your vehicle (foreign luxury cars will cost more to fix than economy cars)
- Availability of parts in your area
- Total amount that you're willing to pay for repairs (sometimes prices and options are negotiable)
Understanding how automotive rates are determined will help understand how much you should be charged when you take your car in for repairs.
Automotive Labor Rates Are Important
In most situations, the labor itself is the most expensive part of the automotive repair price. The longer it takes the technician to fix the problem, the higher your bill is going to be. One of the biggest problems is accessibility – being able to actually get to the problem. The technician may have to disassemble huge portions of the vehicle to fix something that might seem like a small problem.
Labor rates will vary. Asking about their hourly labor rate should be a part of shopping different automotive centers. Labor rates may surprise you and seem too high, but there's a good reason for it. Automotive repairs are often back-breaking, difficult and dirty. Beyond that, it requires a high degree of skill, specialized knowledge and experience. As if all that weren't enough, the tools required to finish the job must be considered. Add on monthly bills like rent and utilities, and the hourly rate starts to make sense.
Factor All Available Information into Your Equation
Remember that you're preparing your own estimate. The goal is for you to be informed and avoid being taken advantage of. However, the number you reach won't necessarily be exactly what the shop is going to charge you.