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Auto repair shop: how much profit on parts is enough?

TomD

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#1
Had a noise in my V-6 Honda that lasted for several miles after cold start, did not sound good at all. My previous shop pissed me off badly so I tried a new shop. They diagnosed the problem as coming from the timing belt tensioner and since the car was due for a new timing belt, I said go ahead. Especially since a failed timing belt on this vehicle equals a destroyed motor and I had been planning to do it anyway. I knew that the job was running $1100-$1200 on average per google and the shop gave me a quote in that range. Then the phone calls began: you have to flush the cooling system, you need to replace the plugs (100K miles so I said OK), you need to clean the induction system ($300!!??, f**k NO!). End result, slightly over $2 grand.

BTW-I would NOT have done this job myself. Plugs, yeah, valve timing, no.

In addition to a $200 diagnostic fee and $150 to "flush cooling system":

Looking through the bill, they charged me $300 for 6 plugs installed, including $30/each + tax for 6 NGK 92924's, which I can pick up at my local Advance Auto Parts for $10.24 each. I could have done this myself for $63 parts and an hour's work at most. And that's because the rear bank is hard to reach.

They also charged me $705 + tax for a Gates TCKWP329 which contains a timing belt, idlers & tensioners and water pump, a kit which I can buy online for $140 to $170.

I understand that an auto shop isn't going to sell you parts for the same amount that they paid but marking it up 300-400-500%? Is there any control on what they can charge for a part?

I was deeply involved with a project at work and not really paying attention to this shop but I'm pissed at them and especially at myself at allowing them to get so far out of control at what should have been a $1150 job. My wife's car is also a V-6 Honda which will need a timing belt in the next year.

At least the car is running like new, which, if you've ever driven a Honda V-6, is saying something.
 

Goldhedge

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#2
Sounds a bit high to me.

Sounds like they took advantage of the fact they had you in the shop...

How many miles on the car and what model car is it?
 

Vlad The Impaler

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#3
If were me I'd say do the timing chain and leave it at that. Anyone can flush the system. I'd only give them the go ahead if whatever they are doing is going to be cheaper while they have it torn down. Otherwise anyone can do it. My timing chain ran me 1,500 from the Nissan Dealer years ago. I too had a noise going on recently. Took to a shop and they said it was the alternator. I asked how much to replace and they said 750.00 dollars! That is outrageous. (sp) Half what a big job like timing chain would cost. I said no thank you and picked up. With a video and some paid help I got it torn down. some 73 year old guy helped me pull and reinstall and I think I stripped one of three bolts or the housing. Paid a Mech to come look at it tonight to tell me if I need to fix that or slap it back together. He said if it is stripped it's still grabbing and tightens just not going to be torquing it to 21 lbs. If it's an issue I can always take it to a shop. Been working on it three weeks. I should have taken it to a shop that quoted me 450.00 but do it yourself they said, be man figure it out. Probably bad advice.
 

ttazzman

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#4
i have developed a long term relationship with my mechanic....i can do the work but i have enough farm equipment to keep me busy and i can do them at my own pace ...so he keeps my road vehicles going.....diagnostics is 70$... we openly discuss options and my take on the problem...he recognizes that you can buy all levels of parts quality wise and price wise....so he doesnt charge me a markup on parts i can even bring in the parts if i want....he does charge me a shop labor rate...and a shop supplies charge......he will pre-price anything i want....and will make suggestions...and he is NOT a mom/pop shop he does a lot of fleet work and is always busy.......i guess my point is find someone and develop a open relationship.....we have provided him with free advice on things we are experts on so its symbiotic

as the cars get newer with all the electronics etc the specialized diagnostic tools and knowledge are getting difficult to do at home so invest some time in a good mechanic
 
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engineear

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#5
Well, you paid it but was overcharged, obviously. Yeah, find someone else, ask friends who they use or learn to do yourself. A friend that's willing to help. I could be a BMW mechanic with all the work I did on that beast of a 325i. Fixed just about everything but internals and exhaust system. My back will never be the same but I saved thousands. Had the dash out to change the heater core fun 2 days that. Its a pain but learned much.

Join a Honda club. Wrenchers love to wrench and share knowledge. Meet new friends too.
 

Uncle

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#7
They charge what they do because not many young guys can change a light bulb let alone swing a spanner. It's like mechanical aptitude is being bread out.

Pity they got you on the flush and plugs. You should have paid attention Tom.

At least you know where not to go next, but the issue is that almost every shop operates the same.

Golden Regards
Uncle
 

Zed

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They charge what they do because not many young guys can change a light bulb let alone swing a spanner. It's like mechanical aptitude is being bread out.
Oh yeah, ain't that the truth!
 

edsl48

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#9
Just wondering what would a Honda dealership have charged...just for the belt kit install?
 

DodgebyDave

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#10
I get people asking for junk yard parts quite a bit, except by the time they pay for my labor to get it and the mark up new parts are cheaper!

back in the old days I was told that the markup should be 1.8. so I have always used that.
 

Usury

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#11
Diagnostic fee is a rip-off if you’re paying to get work done. I can understand the fee if they tell you the problem and then you leave but otherwise...no, RIP OFF!
 

BarnacleBob

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#13
A shop must charge more for parts due to the shop warranteeing the parts & labor. Traditionally if a customer provides the parts, only the labor is warranteed for a short period. If the customer provided parts are defective, the shop wont guarantee the part. If the part provided is installed correctly but is defective, the customer still pays and will pay the installation of another properly working part.

There are many benefits to purchasing parts thru the shop. In your case it sounds like the shop charges for parts was a bit excessive, a situation that should have been addressed at the time of payment. Call it a lesson learned.
 

Usury

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#14
This is why you have to look over the itemized bill BEFORE you pay (and really before agreeing to work/price). I once had a shop try to charge me separately for both tire rotation and tire balancing until I raised hell and refused to pay the rotating fee—-they already em off to balance and had to put em back on, just change the order.
 

TomD

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#15
How many miles on the car and what model car is it?
The car is a 2010 Honda Accord V-6 that I bought used especially for the 32,000 miles a year that I put on a vehicle driving back and forth to the office + visiting jobsites all over the panhandle. I used my truck for a short while but didn't want to turn it into a junker in just a few years and have to replace that at current truck cost.

A timing belt is a scheduled maintenance item on Honda V-6 motors. It's supposed to be replaced at the 100,000 my Honda has on it now. The motor is called an "interference" motor so not replacing really isn't an option.
 

hammerhead

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#16
A shop must charge more for parts due to the shop warranteeing the parts & labor. Traditionally if a customer provides the parts, only the labor is warranteed for a short period. If the customer provided parts are defective, the shop wont guarantee the part. If the part provided is installed correctly but is defective, the customer still pays and will pay the installation of another properly working part.

There are many benefits to purchasing parts thru the shop. In your case it sounds like the shop charges for parts was a bit excessive, a situation that should have been addressed at the time of payment. Call it a lesson learned.
It helps to keep records of work done on a vehicle. I just had a muffler issue on the car that my daughter transferred to me. While looking in the glove box for the owners manual, I came across a receipt for the muffler being replaced in 2017. On the bottom of the receipt, in bold lettering was the proclamation that all parts are warrantied for 3 years or 30,000 miles. Brought the car to the shop that did the original work and they made good on it.
 

hammerhead

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#17
Uncle Nick had his car worked on at Sears. While on the lift they said he needed new shocks. Nick told them go for it. When they presented the bill, he told them the shocks were replaced by them less than a year ago.
Just going in for an oil change can bring about so many issues.
 

Goldhedge

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#18
Wife's 2008 VW - 186K miles - just had a throttle body and accelerator pedal replaced due to failing sensors - $750. All VW parts. He had it for 2 days on one day's notice.

The throttle body from the (S)tealer would have been $600 itself!

We use a small shop in town. He just hired his first employee.

You can 'diagnose' your own car by going to AutoZone and ask to use their 'diagnose' tool. Looks like a voltmeter. You plug into the car's data port (under the dash near the steering column) and turn it on. Put your car model etc and it will tell you a code. Look the code up on the inet.

You can also look online and buy the plug in device and it bluetooths to an app on your phone or laptop! I have this one. Dang thing actually works!

I don't like VW's. Owned two of them from back in the aircooled days. You could fix them with bailing wire. Got really good at pulling an engine. kkk
 

viking

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#19
Wife's 2008 VW - 186K miles - just had a throttle body and accelerator pedal replaced due to failing sensors - $750. All VW parts. He had it for 2 days on one day's notice.

The throttle body from the (S)tealer would have been $600 itself!

We use a small shop in town. He just hired his first employee.

You can 'diagnose' your own car by going to AutoZone and ask to use their 'diagnose' tool. Looks like a voltmeter. You plug into the car's data port (under the dash near the steering column) and turn it on. Put your car model etc and it will tell you a code. Look the code up on the inet.

You can also look online and buy the plug in device and it bluetooths to an app on your phone or laptop! I have this one. Dang thing actually works!

I don't like VW's. Owned two of them from back in the aircooled days. You could fix them with bailing wire. Got really good at pulling an engine. kkk

WOW, that is cheap! I bought Bluedriver for around $100. BlueDriver LSB2 Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone & Android
 

Goldhedge

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WOW, that is cheap! I bought Bluedriver for around $100. BlueDriver LSB2 Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone & Android
It's merely the sensor. The 'brains' are in the app - which is free if I recall?

I just read they send you a CD with the software...
 

GOLDBRIX

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#21
What I have come to do for awhile now is to find a mechanic that will install my parts and charges me labor. There is advantages for both of us. Me I have part sources that give me discounts either for my age, AAA discount, or professional courtesy which ever is greater.
For the mechanic, having the parts with me ties up less time in the garage waiting for the parts delivery, and not having to move the vehicle in and out to do other's repairs. AkA Quick IN, Quick OUT, "NEXT".
My favorite guy I can even pull in, tell him the "symptoms". He'll take a quick look-see and he'll tell me what parts to go get and when will be a good day and sometimes time to come in for the repair(s).
FYI - Most auto store parts have warranteed products so I keep the receipt until its expiration date. I even got new free windshield wipers w/o a receipt because the store I normally trade at had gotten a lot of returns on this national brand named wiper that was ripping apart.

It pays to talk to people, never hurts to ask and learn from those in the field. Jus' Sayin'

You can save money or you can save time very seldom do you get to do both at the same time.
 

engineear

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#22
Also, using YouTube was a great help. Many videos on how to replace stuff. If there's a bolt, I can remove it, replace the part and spin the bolt back on. Replacing stuff ie easy, getting to it is the issue. Get your hands dirty next time. Truly, replaced the water pump and timing belt on our 2000 accord at 65000. Pump was starting to leak so I figured change the belt. My eldest son, who has his own shop, does turbo, roll cages, custom manifolds futurefab.com. said belt would look like new, it did, changed it regardless. He owns the car now, over 170k and still no oil leaks. Saved hundreds.
You CAN fix stuff and once you see it's not so difficult, you'll do other, harder stuff. Disc brake pads are simple. Radiator flush is simple, oil change, air filter, cabin filter can be easy/difficult to accesss...volvo wanted over $100 for a cabin filter I did it for $10 in 30 minutes only because you had to remove the gas pedal and contort like a folding table. BMW wanted $5k to replace a few items under the car. I did it, with help, for $1200 and a 12 pack.
YouTube is your friend. Invest a few Benjamins for a nice starter set of tools, some neoprene gloves and save some money. Never know when youll help someone on the side of the road, ir yourself for that matter.

Like Arnie says...you con DO IT!!

Get a repair manual for your year car. I spent $100 on a BMW manual and saved $ but also TIME!
 
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GOLDBRIX

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#23
Also, using YouTube was a great help. Many videos on how to replace stuff. If there's a bolt, I can remove it, replace the part and spin the bolt back on. Replacing stuff ie easy, getting to it is the issue. Get your hands dirty next time. Truly, replaced the water pump and timing belt on our 2000 accord at 650000. Pump was starting to leak so I figured change the belt. My eldest son, who has his own shop, does turbo, roll cages, custom manifolds futurefab.com. said belt would look like new, it did, changed it regardless. He owns the car now, over 170k and still no oil leaks. Saved hundreds.
You CAN fix stuff and once you see it's not so difficult, you'll do other, harder stuff. Disc brake pads are simple. Radiator flush is simple, oil change, air filter, cabin filter can be easy/difficult to accesss...vovlvo wanted over $100 for a cabin filter I did it for $10 in 30 minutes only because you had to remove the gas pedal and contort like a folding table. BMW wanted $5k to replace a few items under the car. I did it, with help, for $1200 and a 12 pack.
YouTube is your friend. Invest a few Benjamins for a nice starter set of tools, some neoprene gloves and save dome money. Never know when youll help someone on the side of the road, ir yourself for that matter.

Like Arnie says...you con DO IT!!

Get a repair manual for your year car. I spent $100 on a BMW manual and saved $ but also TIME!
Saved myself two hundred dollars + by replacing the blower and resistor for my Ram 1500 AC. Sweated like a pig for an hour, but worth the coin.
 

Fatrat

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#24
I just buy lightly used Toyota's and keep the oil changed, seems to work well. I won't buy an interference engine, I don't need that headache. I just feel ripped off when I buy parts...
 
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Treasure Searcher

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#25
25 years ago, I worked in a small body (collision repair) shop. Owner told me there was a 60% markup on body parts (fenders, etc).

If you need vehicle parts (air filters, spark plugs, etc.) checkout RockAuto.com.
 

gliddenralston

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#26
carpenters, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, with a little effort you can avoid these thieves for the most part...doctors, lawyers, dentist you can avoid these theives too but you'll have to take care of yourself and stay out of trouble.
 

GOLDBRIX

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25 years ago, I worked in a small body (collision repair) shop. Owner told me there was a 60% markup on body parts (fenders, etc).

If you need vehicle parts (air filters, spark plugs, etc.) checkout RockAuto.com.
1A Auto is good too with quick delivery. They also put up a lot of the Do-It-Yourself videos.
 

Silver

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#28
If the cars now runs like new, consider yourself lucky. Getting all those other maintenance/repair items done at the same time was probably worth the expense. If you would have pieced out the other work, it would have taken more time and probably more money.

The alternative would be to sell before the timing belt replacement. I had an Acura and they up sold me also when they did the timing belt.

Some Certified Used brands have better than new warranty's. Unlimited miles and they add a couple of years to what's left of the original warranty.
 

newmisty

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carpenters, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, with a little effort you can avoid these thieves for the most part...doctors, lawyers, dentist you can avoid these theives too but you'll have to take care of yourself and stay out of trouble.
So now Carpenters are thieves?
 

davycoppitt

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#31
So now Carpenters are thieves?
Not carpenter or Mechanic, but HVAC. Our shop now charges 100% markup on parts up to $1000, then 80% after that. I do not want to work 100 hour weeks. If we were to lower our prices I would be doing that. My theory is you can either pay our prices for the best out there, fix it your self, shop around for a better price (usually means a worse job, but not all the time) then pay for us to come fix it (happens all the time) , or deal with not having it working.

Man us youth can win. We get bitched about none of us wanting to work. Then when we work our asses off and get into the trades we are thievs for making too much money.
 

newmisty

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Not carpenter or Mechanic, but HVAC. Our shop now charges 100% markup on parts up to $1000, then 80% after that. I do not want to work 100 hour weeks. If we were to lower our prices I would be doing that. My theory is you can either pay our prices for the best out there, fix it your self, shop around for a better price (usually means a worse job, but not all the time) then pay for us to come fix it (happens all the time) , or deal with not having it working.

Man us youth can win. We get bitched about none of us wanting to work. Then when we work our asses off and get into the trades we are thievs for making too much money.
I usually don't mark up materials but do charge to purchase and deliver.
 

newmisty

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#34
Carpenters usually under price themselves and barely make up the materials. And they sweat more than most trades.
That's the truth. We also end up having to clean up after the plumbers, electricians, flooring guys etc. , And are the last to get paid on the job.
 

Silver

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#36
I usually don't mark up materials but do charge to purchase and deliver.
Take a hint from the other tradesmen, mark up the materials and charge your time for pick up and delivery - even if the lumber yard delivers, mark it up. If a 2 x 4 cost 2 bucks, it's a 3 dollar 2 x 4 when you touch it.

The thing that makes it harder for carpenters to mark up materials is anyone can buy lumber - not so for HVAC, they won't even sell you a capacitor. Used to be electrical supply houses would only sell to electricians. Masonry supply houses used to be where you got supplies - now it's big box stores and everyone is a 'contractor'.
 
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hammerhead

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#37
Material plus 10% was a common by the hour formula. But that is different if you're putting your own money out. Then the markup should at least be thirty percent if not more.
 

gliddenralston

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#38
I guess I should have said building contractors...I know I was one for 40 yrs...even just a self employed carpenter doing small jobs should be making $55 hr plus mark up...if ur not ur very good at it.
 

newmisty

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I guess I should have said building contractors...I know I was one for 40 yrs...even just a self employed carpenter doing small jobs should be making $55 hr plus mark up...if ur not ur very good at it.
Oh, so you were a thief. Got it. Shoulda just said so.
 

Thecrensh

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#40
I don't know...I don't mind some markup because I'm a capitalist, but a lot of places try to gouge people because they think that the customer doesn't know better.

Had a shop quote me for $110 to change a cabin filter that literally cost $10 and didn't even require tools to replace. THAT was BS.