How to know what a car repair should cost
A new tool can give you an idea of what a given repair should cost in your area, along with what should be included in the fix.
This post comes from Bob Sullivan at partner site Credit.com.
How much do people hate going to auto repair shops? A new survey says 41 percent of Americans would rather do their taxes -- by hand! -- than head to a garage for car repairs. And why not? About 60 percent say they think they've been ripped off by an auto repair shop.
The survey also found that three-quarters of Americans think repair shops are condescending to women, and are more likely to overcharge them.
A website named RepairPal is hoping to tip the scales back toward consumers with a simple online tool and app called RepairPrice Estimator. Drivers enter their ZIP code and service required, and it returns a price range and additional notes about potential repair costs.
For example: A driver in suburban Seattle who needs a new water pump for a six-year-old Jeep
Liberty will find the price should range from $263 to $368, and should include coolant, a gasket, and hose clamps. The estimate also includes a warning that drive belts may require replacement as part of this procedure, particularly if a leaky water pump has spilled coolant on a belt.
RepairPal said the estimator is fueled by technicians and analysts, who spent 75,000 hours analyzing the cost of labor and parts for various repairs alongside ZIP codes across the country.
I love tools that give you price ranges, such as FlightAware's new airline route comparison tool. It tells you the median cost paid by consumers flying between two cities, by airline, giving fliers a chance to see if they overpaid.
There are other estimators online also. Napa and AOL Autos license RepairPal’s data, so those tools produce exactly the same results. AutoMD’s tool offered additional results, comparing dealer prices with independent repair shop prices and do-it-yourself costs. Consumer Reports asked for relevant information about a car, but after filling out the Web forms, wouldn’t show estimates until users paid for a subscription.
RepairPal announced this week it has a partnership with AARP, which grants discounts to that association's 37 million members at repair shops around the country.
"RepairPal and AARP share the same core principles of building value through trust, quality, transparency, and savings,” said Art Shaw, CEO of RepairPal. "Finding a quality repair shop is a difficult and often uncomfortable task."
The survey, conducted earlier this year by Harris Interactive, shows seniors are no strangers to that ripped-off feeling. It found 56 percent of Americans older than 55 felt they'd been ripped off at a repair shop.
But the survey also found the younger the driver, the more likely he or she would feel ripped off. Among those 18-34, 73 percent said they thought they'd been overcharged or paid for unnecessary repairs. That’s not a surprise -- younger consumers generally are less familiar with hands-on auto repairs than their parents or grandparents.
What consumers can do
A cost estimator can't help stop unnecessary repairs -- it simply lets you know if the cost of such repairs are consistent with what other shops nearby are charging. As with most consumer purchases, the only real way to make sure you aren't paying too much is to shop around and get multiple estimates. With auto repairs, it's common to receive estimates that vary by $500 or more, as mechanics often disagree about "necessary repairs," and are often compensated by nudging consumers to replace parts prematurely.
In truth, many drivers are in a poor position to shop around. When your car breaks down and won't run, it's hard to do comparison shopping. That's why it's important to find a trustworthy shop while conducting regular maintenance, before a real crisis hits. It also helps to be a member of a discount program, such as AAA, so you can have a car towed from one shop to another for a second opinion if major repairs are recommended.
More from Credit.com:
- Are there car loans for people with bad credit?
- What to do if you can't make your car payments
- The 5 worst car-buying mistakes
Well I have been an auto tech for 40 years. If you think we rip everyone off, all I can tell you is that
this is America, so just do it yourself. Go buy all the tools you need which will set you back 50 grand, then just try to keep up with changing technology. Then put up with people who all complain you are ripping them off and you are just a grease monkey anyway.
yes, i would say that its the time manuals that are the bad guys in alot of cases
i own a semi truck, and it needed a new clutch. so i took it to a dealer
they charged me 8 hours labor at 110.00 an hour
i watched them do the work in 3.5 hours
still charged me for the full 8 hrs labor
495.00 over charge
Most folks are willing to pay the going rate, most folks however don't know what that is. If you are willing to rip someone off, then don't ever talk down about other folks. Quality mechanics at a quality prices are hard to fine. Our best solution then is regular maintenance so that we can avoid seeing them as many times as possible.
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