The laws vary in every state but usually you have to sign the repair order giving them permission to work on the vehicle. Here in Wisconsin you have the choice to select "I want an estimate before any work is done", "Go ahead and fix whatever is needed but don't exceed $xx. Xx without contacting me", or "go ahead and do whatever it needs, regardless of cost".
Mechanics don't like the last one because no matter what they find or how much they try to keep your cost down, they know you're going to think they ripped you off. They also don't like the first one because that implies they have to diagnose it for free to give you an estimate. If you decline the repairs, they wasted their time when they could have been helping someone else. They usually use the second choice when they already have a fairly good idea of what the repairs will cost. The problem is there's so many things that they can find once they start taking rusty bolts apart.
I never heard of charging that much to special-order a part. We do that all the time. Auto parts stores get parts shipped in overnight from their warehouses all the time, then run them over to the shop. It's more likely your van needed a different pump than what the mechanic expected and the one that was needed cost more than the one he quoted you on. $400.00 is way too cheap for a fuel pump. My mother had one installed in her Grand Caravan about ten years ago at the dealership I used to work at. They treat us real well but it still cost her $450.00 at that time. At the same time a former student's parents had one installed in their Chevy Lumina APV and that one cost them $650.00
Before we make any judgments we need to know what you're being charged for and why. Given all the problems Windstars have with rust, my guess would be it has something to do with the straps holding the tank in or the fuel lines attached to it.
Tuesday, March 26th, 2013 AT 2:03 AM