You WERE NOT asked to pay $110 for an estimate.
You were charged $110 for AT LEAST an hour of WORK to diagnose the problem so they know what work needs done.
Shouldn't Auto Repair Estimates be FREE?
- No. It costs the shop $60-$80 an hour to do anything. The law sez they can charge $35-$50 or more for an estimate, non refundable. Even my local Harley shop only wants $77 for a "once-over", I think this is Fair.
Do You work for free?
EDIT: I know you are probably not Christian, but I am offended on the Lord's Day at your language. Say: "Jimminey Christmas! " or something.23
- Generally speaking, if the same shop that does the diagnosis does the work, it's often included with the work. But if you just ask a shop to do the diagnosis/estimate but then choose to do go elsewhere or do the work yourself, you will be charged for their time.01
- Back in the early 1970s, when I was an avionics tech in general aviation, a new customer brought in his ancient comm radio and announced it had been at two other shops and nobody could fix it. The receiver didn't work after a few minutes. I set it up, got out the book on it, and traced it down to the stage and started making measurements. When I put the voltmeter on the control grid of the stage the receiver started working. I shut it off and measured the resistor and, sure enough, it was open. I got a resistor out of stock removed the old one and soldered the new one in, and tested the radio (as required by the FAA). I presented the customer, who had been with me the whole time, a bill for 3/4 hour. He protested, "I could have replaced that resistor in five minutes!" I replied, "I did. If you had brought the part and told me which one to change, and refused the required test afterward, I could have billed you for five minutes."41
- It depends on the amount of labor required to determine the problem. If the repair needed is obvious, then there should be a very small charge if any for the estimate. If the problem needs to be diagnosed, then you should expect to pay for the labor required to make the diagnosis
For example, it you bring your car to a shop and ask for an estimate to replace the windshield, they should be able to quote you a price without spending much time looking at the car. If you come in with a complaint that the engine is running rough, they will have to spend time looking for the cause of the problem.
Why would a mechanic do the diagnosis for free?62
- Does a Doctor work for free when you come in and say "I don't feel well"? You pay for the look and the tests.
Mechanics are car doctors...so you pay for the evaluation(as they basically do the same thing.) They are kind of figuring that once you have the diagnosis you will tell them to go ahead and do the work and the estimate is swallowed up in the repair cost. You will go all the way, now.
If you don't and take it to your sleazy brother in law to do the work who owes you money then you save. Mechanics figured out the hard part is the diagnosis. So as it takes time away from actual repairs, you are going to pay for it.22
- Most mechanics will give you an educated guess on the repair costs for free, but if you want a proper quote quite likely they will have to take time to pull things off to see what condition they are in to see exactly what needs to be done so you have to pay a fee for that as they must do some checking then write out a quote.
There are greedy mechanical businesses of course who charge this fee just to make more money, Some businesses try and look very professional and over supply services so you will pay for them.
I find some franchise companies the worst as they seem to like this way of doing business where they charge you for anything they think they can get away with. I still prefer the smaller private mechanic as most seem reasonably honest and don't generally charge these stupid charges. I know of a Toyota dealer that adds $30 to every mechanical repair bill supposedly for grease, rags, hand cleaner, sprays, writing out the bill and other supposed costs for the job.
I have stuck with small mechanics and they seem to not charge these extra costs and their service and ability for most repairs appears to be just as good. One other thing I like about the private mechanic is generally you talk to the guy who did the work.22
- Estimates are typically free. Figuring out what is wrong is not. Once you know what is wrong you should be able to call every shop you want and ask how much to do that repair.01
- Why, it takes time to do the estimate
Plus most places do waive the estimate if they do the work11
- I'm with you buddy. There's too much competition out there to pay someone just to look at your car and tell you what's wrong, especially when you consider the high costs of the repairs themselves. Give me a free estimate, or I will go to your competitor who will. As far as all this "Would you like to work for an hour for free?" stuff, unless it's a very complicated problem, if it takes you an hour to figure out what's wrong, you're not very good. Most mechanics can tell me what's wrong just from my description of the problem, or looking at it for a few minutes.13
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