Auto repair question

Tiny
DHD123
  • MEMBER
  • 1999 CHEVROLET BLAZER
  • 6 CYL
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
Is it customary for an independent garage to have their own markup on parts they get from napa/autozone?
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011 AT 8:23 PM

19 Replies

Tiny
RASMATAZ
  • MEMBER
It is that's how they make money-My opinion its their discount by using them-both happy party
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011 AT 8:26 PM
Tiny
DHD123
  • MEMBER
I had the in tank fuel pump changed, I can buy the part at napa for $369.00, the mechanic charged me $667.11 for it that he got at the same napa store. Seems to me that I got gouged
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011 AT 8:58 PM
Tiny
WRENCHTECH
  • EXPERT
The repair shop is entitled to markup on parts. Anybody that sells anything makes a profit on it. That's how they pay their overhead and stay in business. That's the way it has always been. It's only recently that customers are getting access to the discounted prices that were always reserved for the dealer only.
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011 AT 10:17 PM
Tiny
RASMATAZ
  • MEMBER
Ty Wrench
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011 AT 10:30 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
If that included labor, you got a deal. You owe your mechanic a bag of chocolate chip cookies. If that didn't include labor, you have to look at how much labor they charged you. Some shops mark parts up a little, then charge you what they know their labor, experience, and training are worth which is over $100.00 per hour in many cities. Some shops like to give the impression they are lower cost and saving you money by charging more for parts and less for labor. That's really self-defeating. What other professional charges you less to make them look better, yet it's only mechanics who we hold to a higher standard than doctors.

Included in that markup is enough built in if the new part is defective and has to be replaced again. The shop knows they can't charge you again for the second pump but few people like working for free. If the failure wasn't the mechanic's fault, he deserves to be paid for his time to do the job over. That second repair also prevents him from moving on to the next car. The shop uses some of the parts profit to pay the mechanic and for someone to run and get the new part.

Most parts also have a list price which is typically what they will charge you regardless of their actual cost. That way they know they're charging you the same as any competitor down the road.

I found a fuel pump for your vehicle online for 60 bucks, so the NAPA price doesn't look so good, but that same company has a different pump for $359.00. It all depends on how much of the complete drop-in assembly you want to buy. If you get just a pump, the housing has to be disassembled. That cheaper part will result in another hour or two of labor and the chance for something to be done incorrectly. That means taking everything apart again. Most mechanics don't want to risk having to do the job twice so they opt for the more expensive complete assembly and less labor.

Another way to look at parts markup is to compare that to food in a restaurant. Of course you can buy a steak in the grocery store for much less than at the restaurant, but if you don't like the way the cook prepared it, they have to get another one. Part of their "markup" covers the cost of the second steak. That safety margin is necessary to stay in business.

Any business owner can tell you how much they worry about all the costs of staying in business. If you could see a list of the taxes, insurances, regulatory fees, building and equipment maintenance, training costs, and other expenses, you would be amazed. Every year I showed my students a list of all the new car dealer's expenses that I knew about. After viewing it, they wondered how they could stay in business by charging only $100.00 per hour.

So, at first glance, while it looks like you got "gouged", you have to remember that the shop likely didn't buy that $369.00 pump. Chances are they bought a complete assembly at a much higher cost so they could insure the quality of the repair. That means they were looking out for your best interest in the long run. Experience has taught us that customers grump about the high cost of parts and labor, but they get really angry when they have to come back for the same repair a second time. That's where mechanics are held to much higher standards than doctors. We'll go from doctor to doctor looking for a cure, and each one has to start the diagnosis all over again from the beginning, but let a mechanic need a second shot at finding a problem and we call him "incompetent" or untrustworthy. Doctors only have to learn two models in varying sizes for their entire career. Mechanics have to learn new systems on ever-increasingly ridiculously complicated cars every year. Being a backyard mechanic doesn't cut it any longer. Every shop spends thousands of dollars every year for specialized tools and equipment, and the manufacturers are actively doing everything possible to force their car owners to go back to the dealer for repairs. GM is by far one of the worst offenders of this practice. You're lucky your vehicle is old enough that any shop can work on it. No one likes to spend $667.11 on repairs, but that's better than spending almost that much every month on a car payment.
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011 AT 10:52 PM
Tiny
PROTECH1980
  • EXPERT
Very well put.
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011 AT 11:04 PM
Tiny
RASMATAZ
  • MEMBER
Love you Doc and Pro show them the best in the world, for me I'm getting old time to go-
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011 AT 11:26 PM
Tiny
RASMATAZ
  • MEMBER
Wrench, my old buddy from somewhere else nice working with you. TY and again with you 2 I've enjoyed working with you guys gonna miis you guys-Love you and take care-Sorry!
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011 AT 11:34 PM
Tiny
WRENCHTECH
  • EXPERT
Thanks for the compliments Ras but you aren't going anywhere.
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011 AT 11:37 PM
Tiny
DHD123
  • MEMBER
The 667.11 was just for the part, the whole job was 1100.00.
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Sunday, August 14th, 2011 AT 3:38 AM
Tiny
DHD123
  • MEMBER
@ caradiodoc. Small town, one napa store, same part number on the repair invoice as what I priced at napa. The mechanic has one employee and I just think that guy is an assistant. Precision auto repair in Richland Center, wisconsin. I still think I got hosed and won't be going back, it is a shame too because the guy is a good mechanic. Besides a 298.00 markup on a part is just plain wrong, when I showed him the printout from napa showing the price I could have got the part for, he was more mad that I could get it for the same as it cost him, and he has a tax number to get parts wholesale from them.
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Sunday, August 14th, 2011 AT 3:53 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Yeah, that IS a bunch for a fuel pump, but all repairs are a lot higher than 20 years ago when cars were less complicated and easier to work on. I was disgruntled when my ****** got charged $450.00 to have the pump replaced on her '95 Grand Caravan at the very nice dealership I used to work at, then a student told me his parents paid $650.00 for the same job on their Pontiac Transport. Both of those were over ten years ago.
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Sunday, August 14th, 2011 AT 3:58 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
What markup do you think would have been fair? I don't know what is customary at independent auto repair shops, but I CAN share my experience from working at an extremely reputable and honest tv repair shop. We charged $1.00 for a simple fuse that you could buy three for 59 cents at Radio Shack. That sounds like a huge markup, but to be sure we had the right one when needed, we stocked about $300.00 worth of fuses, and sold perhaps two dozen per month. That didn't include those we popped in the shop in someone's tv, that we couldn't charge for. All shops in all service industries have a lot of money invested in inventory. That doesn't mean they get a huge return on all of it. My boss's shelves were full of special-order parts that didn't solve a problem, and there was little chance he would ever sell those parts. They represented breakfast not on his table.

More expensive parts had a much smaller markup but it was still typical for the retail price to be 25 percent higher than the wholesale price. No one that I know of ever asked us what we paid for their new high voltage transformer or picture tube. It was just understood part of the cost of doing business is covered by that markup.

In both trades, there is only one person earning the shop's income. That's the mechanic and the tv technician. The person who runs to town for the parts earns a paycheck but there's no "parts runner" charge on your bill. Someone in the office makes out your bill and collects your payment. They don't generate one single cent of income for the business, yet they deserve to get paid. Where is that money going to come from? Only one person's work generates the income that has to cover all of the business's expenses.

A different way of looking at it is to ask the shop if they will install parts that you bring in. You'll be lucky to find one out of ten that will agree to do that. The other nine know already you're going to be upset no matter what the outcome of the repair. If the part proves to be defective, (which happens more often than you'd think), you're going to have to pay again to have the job done a second time. There went your savings. The exception is sometimes with really old cars, parts can be hard to locate and takes someone's time away from other duties, so the car owner might be asked to help in that regard, but that is not very common.

Don't forget about all the stories about the huge markups for meds in hospitals. Plumbers charge more for pipe fittings than you'd pay at Home Depot. Hair stylists mark up the products they sell. Besides their labor charges, that markup also takes into account their training, experience, and their knowledge of which product is correct for the situation.

Some businesses don't have separate charges for labor and parts, but whether it be a carpenter, florist, restaurateur, or the guy who delivers propane, the markup is there. One way or another, you're going to pay more for any product than the person selling it paid. That's how businesses stay in business so they are there when you need their service.

So the question is not whether the price markup is justified; it's how much is appropriate? I have to agree that $298.00 seems like a lot for such an expensive part, but if that's the suggested retail price of the pump, your wallet wouldn't feel any better if the mechanic's cost was $569.00. The parts stores always give their best prices to their best customers, (shops), to gain their repeat business. (Napa marked the price up too). You should feel fortunate that Napa was willing to give you the same price as their best customers.

In Wisconsin, you have the right to receive a written estimate for repairs before the work is started, but sometimes it's hard to be accurate until some diagnostics are done. With that estimate in hand, you can sometimes comparison shop but without seeing your car, some shops will be reluctant to do that. It's easier doing that with standardized services such as four-wheel alignments, tire balancing, and other things that are likely to have preset prices. It's not so easy with things like fuel pumps and transmission repairs because there's too many variables. Being in Wisconsin, the road salt capital of the world, you know all about rust. That can double the published times of some jobs. Even the labor rate guides make allowances for rusty gas tank straps and fittings.

What you should not do when comparison shopping is tell someone the guy down the road will do a job for a certain amount; can they beat it? They will be inclined to give you a much lower amount to make themselves look better than their competitor. Later, of you bring the car there, they'll have to figure out a way to tell you it will cost more so they can charge their regular rates. Instead, just ask for a quote to perform the needed work on your car. Remember though that the first shop has diagnostic time invested in the repair.

On the other side of the coin, there are some shops that I feel are grossly over-priced. Here in Wausau, we have two chain stores that are well-known for being expensive. The work they do is fine, but one in particular, for a brake job, replaces way more parts than necessary. We were constantly giving second opinions where I worked at the Chrysler dealer across the street, and our $200.00 brake service was a far better deal than their $650.00 brake job with all those unneeded parts. That other shop often has empty service bays. The other high-priced place is a tire and alignment national chain store. They have a lot of good published prices for standard services, but when it comes to something "not on the menu", I've seen copies of some of their bills, and I don't know how they can sleep at night. Since then I've been telling people the new car dealerships are not necessarily the more expensive places to go. I have a lot of other unrelated stories about less-than-ideal business practices both in tv repair and car repair. Most shops were very honest, but a few were outright crooks that gave a black eye to their entire industry. THOSE are the ones we hear about. Honest mechanics and tv repairmen don't make news but there's a bunch of them.

So, while I agree I wouldn't be very happy to have to pay $1100.00 for a fuel pump, don't be too quick to be angry with the shop or mechanic, especially if they have good reputations. Give then a second chance to earn your trust, but try to get an estimate first, if possible.
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Sunday, August 14th, 2011 AT 5:32 AM
Tiny
WRENCHTECH
  • EXPERT
Why don't you go scrutinize the bill from your last hospital visit and then tell me about markup. You pay $20 for an aspirin and that's OK but a repair shop is supposed to sell you parts at cost?
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Sunday, August 14th, 2011 AT 1:01 PM
Tiny
DHD123
  • MEMBER
@ Wrenchtech- I didn't say that he should sell me parts at his cost, He buys wholesale he can charge retail, BTW my brother has owned his own motorcycle shop and he says its BS. If he isn't making enough money then he should raise his labor rates(going rate at the GM dealership is $85.00 p/h), The labor for the job was 360 and change. If people start going and buying the parts and asking him to install them he is cutting his own throat and if enough people do that and he refuses he would have no business.I have no problem paying the going labor rate, but screwing me on parts is a no no.
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Sunday, August 14th, 2011 AT 3:46 PM
Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC
  • EXPERT
WELL SIR

I'M SURE YOU SORTA HAVE A ALLIED FORCE AGREEING WITH YOU AND YOUR STANDPOINT!

I CAN SEE THE NEED FOR A BUSINESS TO MAKE $$$, BUT 100% ON A "BIG ITEM" SEEMS OVERBOARD!.........20% IS THE "NORM", I HAVE SEEN.

I MIGHT NOT HAVE THE FULL STORY EITHER!

I'M NOT A PAID MECHANICING FELLER, BUT SOME PEOPLE (ANNOYING AND SUCH) DO GET DIFFERENT TREATMENT, ANYWHERE!....INCLUDING FROM ME........SOMETIMES, INCLUDING ME!

BUT ASSUMING YOU ARE A REGULAR JOE, TRYING TO MAKE ENDS MEET...THERE ARE OTHER LESS EXPENSIVE OPTIONS

SOME THINK THE DEALERS, LARGE SHOPS ARE THE ONLY ONES CAPABLE OF PERFORMING CAR TASKS

NOT!

THERE ARE OTHER INEXPENSIVE RESOURCES---DIY IS THE CHEAPEST--DIY USING YOUR BUDDY, IS NEXT IN LINE....AND THERE ARE OTHERS TOO, YOU MUST FIND THEM...YOU MUST TALK TO PEOPLE...YOU MUST "SCREEN" PEOPLE....DON'T WANT "MR. METH" UNDER YOUR HOOD!....YOU CAN FINE MECHANICS WHO USED TO BE PAID MECHANICS....ETC...ETC!

RECENT EXAMPLE OF "ONLY A PRO"........IMMA PLUMBING SERVICE TECHNICION, SORTA WAS THE #1 GUY, WHERE I USED TO WORK....BROKE FOOT "AT WORK", MANY COMPLICATIONS--1-1/2 YEARS LATER, RELEASED TO WORK......SEEMS WORKERS COMP $$$ PLAYED INTO THE FACTORING....THEY SAY "NO WORK"...INSTALLED ANOTHER TRUCK W/ 2 MORE PLUMBERS...(I STILL HAVE NO JOB NOW)

ON WITH IT!....A NEIGHBOR RECOMMENDED I LOOK AT HER FRIENDS TOILET....SUCH AN EZ FIX, ABOUT $7.OO PARTS...I WAS GONNA "LABOR" FOR FREE (OLD LADY)......WOULDN'T LET ME TOUCH IT!....I HAD NO UNIFORM, NO BIG TRUCK IN FRONT OF HER HOUSE......SHE SAID, "I'D RATHER HAVE A PROFESSIONAL DO IT".........I FOUND OUT A WEEK AGO, THE PROFESSIONAL THAT CAME, GOT $185!......THE COMPANY I USED TO WORK AT, WOULD HAVE BEEN $95........AND THE BEST PLUMBER, THIS SIDE OF THE MISSISSIPPI...$7!GO FIGURE??????

YOU CAN SEE MY POINT OF VIEWS, BY READING WHAT I WRITE HERE....EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO THEIR OWN, DERANGED WAY OF THINKING!

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/2007-ford-taurus-tune-up

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/2005-ford-focus-power-steering

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/2007-mercury-marquis-air-conditioneroverheating

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/1989-mercury-tracer-was-backed-into-need-headlight

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/2004-ford-f-150-skipping

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/1985-jeep-cj7-fires-but-wont-start

A LOT OF THINGS ARE AT "YOU TUBE" BY SUBMITTING SEVERAL DIFFERENT SEARCHES--YOU CAN MIGHT-NEAR, FIND ANYTHING!

WHEN DEALING WITH PEOPLE---DIPLOMACY!....EVEN IF YOU ARE "PROBING" FOR INFO!.........YOU DON'T HAVE TO SPILL YOUR GUTS, GET WHAT YOU CAME FOR AND MOVE ON!

ADVERTISE FOR YOU PRESENT MECHANIC.....HE WILL DEFINITELY BE GRATEFUL, WHEN WORK SLOWS WAY DOWN!

JUST A FEW THOUGHTS FROM A CONCERNED DIYer

LET ME KNOW IF YOU NEED MORE POINTERS OR OTHER RESOURCES

THE MEDIC
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Sunday, August 14th, 2011 AT 4:13 PM
Tiny
WRENCHTECH
  • EXPERT
The most recent dealer list I have on that pump is $654.21 and most of the dealers around here pad their parts even more. $85 per hour at dealers was about 5 years ago. Most are well over $100 not. Every business has the right to charge whatever they want. If you don't like their prices, then you are welcome to take your business elsewhere but since this shop doesn't seem to be starving for business, I suspect his customers feel that he is worth the price. As for your comment about people bringing their own parts, you'd be real lucky to even find a shop willing to install them and the ones that do, increase the labor price to compensate for that which they have the total right to do.
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Sunday, August 14th, 2011 AT 6:51 PM
Tiny
DHD123
  • MEMBER
The part is 502.00 at the local GM dealer here, I checked there too to have all my ducks in a row before going back to the shop. I didn't go back all gang busters either, I made out like I thought napa over charged him, thats when he told me that he marks up the parts. I used to do the majority of my own work(six years as a mechanic in the Army)and now am a 100% disabled vet living on a fixed income. I am not physically able to do much anymore or I could/would have done the job myself. I know what it takes to do the job, thats why I started checking, because I thought that was high for that job. The labor was right for the job at what he charges p/h.
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Sunday, August 14th, 2011 AT 8:46 PM
Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC
  • EXPERT
IS THERE A TECH SCHOOL NEAR YOU WHO MIGHT POSSIBLY DO YOUR WORK, WITH A "SMALL OR YOUR CALL" "DONATION" TO THE SCHOOL. YOU BUY THE PARTS, WHERE YOU WANT. MIGHT BE A LITTLE "PUT OUT" WITH "THEIR" SCHEDULE. MIGHT WORK FOR YOU TOO!

WHERE THERE'S A WILL THERE'S A WAY

IN 1ST BATTALION, THE SAYIN' WAS, "IF YOU AIN'T CHEATIN', YOU AIN'T TRYIN'!"

THE MEDIC
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Sunday, August 14th, 2011 AT 9:42 PM

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