Never replaced a rear evaporator so I don't know how long it takes but I'm sure it will take less time than doing a front one. Most shops charge according to a flat rate guide that spells out the time allowed for each procedure or part of a job. That way they all charge the same amount of time regardless if an experienced mechanic gets the job done faster or an inexperienced mechanic runs into trouble and it takes him longer. The checks and balances is that if he hurries too much and makes a mistake, he has to correct it at no charge to you. That means he loses the chance to move on to the next job. It's in his interest to do the job as quickly as possible while making sure he does everything correctly the first time.
The variables to flat rate are the shop's hourly labor rate which is usually pretty much equal to other shops in your area, and the additional parts and services one shop might want to include. Some mechanics add additional parts to be sure they didn't miss anything. They want the job done right the first time so you don't have to take off work to come back with the same problem. Some mechanics put a priority on saving you money but that almost always comes back to bite them in the butt. That receiver / drier I mentioned is a perfect example. Nine out of ten times if you don't replace it you'll never know the difference or have a problem, but that tenth time is the one that causes intermittent cooling in between long periods of the AC system not working because a droplet of water is circulating in the system and freezing and blocking the control port for the refrigerant. The mechanic will have to recover the refrigerant, replace the drier, evacuate the system for at least a half hour, then recharge it again. He can legitimately charge you for the receiver / drier since you weren't charged for it previously, but where people get angry is from having to take time out of their busy schedules to make another trip to the shop. The mechanic's attempt to save you money on the first visit results in an angry car owner. That's one reason experienced mechanics don't cut corners. Another is they know that one out of ten cars is going to have a problem if they don't do a thorough job. They just don't know which one that is so they don't take chances on any car. The result is they earn the undeserved reputation of being expensive. Either way, if he tries to save you money, or he tries to do the best possible job, he loses and gets a bad reputation. We hold mechanics to much higher standards than doctors. No one seems to mind having to go back to numerous doctors until one finally cures your ailment.
Your van uses the newer R-134 refrigerant which is less expensive than the older R-12, but thanks to all the EPA rules and regulations we voted for, the recovery, recycling, and recharging equipment shops are required to use is unbelievably expensive. Your bill will reflect the very high cost of that equipment. Your mechanic will also need to use a refrigerant identifier to find out if anyone added an over-the-counter do-it-yourself additive that would contaminate his equipment and any other cars he uses it on. If any of those products like leak stoppers or non-R-134 chemicals are found, he won't work on the system. The shop needs to have government-issued permits to allow them to work on AC systems and the mechanic needs to be certified by the state and by the federal government. Those licenses are just ways for the government to collect more money which ultimately comes from you.
To get a better idea of the total cost for this repair, any shop should be able to give you a good idea if you tell them you need the rear evaporator replaced and the system recharged. You can compare the estimates from two different shops but be sure they're including the same things. Also be aware that many shops won't want to give you an estimate without seeing the vehicle. They often get tricked into providing an estimate, then when the car shows up and they find out a lot more is needed, the owner tries to hold them to that estimate. Even if you act in good faith, it is very common for the mechanic to find out, to his surprise as well as yours, that more parts are needed that couldn't be identified initially. They hate that as much as you do, but they have no choice but to tell you when that happens. Some shops will pad the estimate to cover some of those surprises, and if they're lucky they can present you with a bill that's lower than their initial estimate. They run the risk though of losing the job to the guy down the road who gave you a lower estimate. Some shops give you a bare bones estimate to make it appear lower than their competitors so they get the job, then they start to "find" those additional things after the work is started. Your final bill might still be the same as it would have been at the more expensive shop, but no one likes surprises.
Monday, July 22nd, 2013 AT 11:16 AM