You need to get the estimate from the shop. Most of the reputable shops use a "flat rate" guide that spells out the time it should take for every procedure. That way all shops will charge the same number of hours for the same work. Only their hourly labor rate will vary.
If you aren't familiar with flat rate, think of paying your neighbor kid ten bucks to mow your lawn because it should take an hour. If he uses a scissors and takes all day, he is only going to get ten bucks. He could use a lawn mower and get done in an hour, OR, ... He could use a souped-up riding lawn mower and get done in five minutes! He's still going to get ten bucks.
An inexperienced mechanic might take five hours to do a four-hour job because he double-checks his work often or has to look up information. You still only get charged for four hours. Someone who has invested in a lot of specialized tools and advanced training might get done in three hours, but you still get charged for four hours and he gets paid for four hours. Flat rate encourages speed and efficiency, but it also encourages quality work because if he makes a mistake and has to do part of the job over, he doesn't get paid for that second time, and you don't get charged for it either.
There is going to be a flat rate time listed for your car model and engine size to replace the timing belt. That job has to include removing and reinstalling the serpentine belt(s). The flat rate guide will always have small additions or deletions that must be included in the labor calculations. For example, if the air conditioning compressor is in the way and has to be removed to complete a procedure, the book will say, "add.3 hour with air conditioning". Similarly, there is going to be a flat rate time for replacing the serpentine belts. As an example, lets say that's 0.5 hours. That is included as part of the timing belt job, so there will be a notation to the effect that, "timing belt procedure includes removal and reinstallation of serpentine belts. You should not be charged additional labor for the serpentine belts, just the extra cost of the new belts. In that respect, it is to your advantage to have the timing belt done at the same time.
There is something that concerns me a whole lot more though and it should you too. The 2.0L engine is an "interference" engine. That means when the timing belt breaks, any open valves will be hit and bent by the pistons as they coast to a stop. That turns your maintenance repair into a really expensive engine repair. I personally will never own an interference engine, but if I did, I would not drive the car any further than I'm willing to walk back home, and right now I'm in the middle of 20 degree winter. Every manufacturer has a recommended replacement interval. I've never seen one longer than 100,000 miles. In the '80s, Honda recommended every 75,000 miles, and their belts commonly broke at 65,000 miles. They had a lot of angry car owners. I would put the new timing belt WAY higher up on the list of priorities than serpentine belts and snow tires.
For labor rates, $75.00 per hour is too low. When I worked for a very nice family-owned Chrysler dealership in the '90s, we were surprised to hear a local independent shop had raised their rates to $75.00 per hour. That was the highest in our city, but that was 20 years ago. Today most reputable shops are around $100.00 per hour, and if I showed you the list I made for my students of taxes, regulations, and all the other things they have to pay for, you wouldn't be able to figure out how they can stay in business by charging so little. Shops with a lower labor rate are not necessarily the better value. Some employ younger, inexperienced mechanics. They can be just as conscientious but may take longer. My experience at the dealership is people will whine and whimper at the repair bill, but if you want to see someone fly off the handle and get irate, watch someone who is screaming because they had to come back a second time to have a mistake corrected. That is a much bigger deal than the initial cost. It costs more to employ older, more-experienced mechanics, so the shop's labor rate has to be higher. Those mechanics make fewer mistakes, and they know how to identify things that are likely to cause problems for you in the near future.
Mechanics are held to much higher standards than are doctors. If you don't like a doctor's diagnosis or treatment results, you just find a different doctor. Boy, let a mechanic make a mistake and your whole life just about unravels.
My 25-year-old minivan is really easy to work on, and the flat rate guide calls for the timing belt to take four hours. Your car is much smaller and things are much less accessible. I'd be very surprised if the timing belt is supposed to take less than five hours. Based on $100.00 per hour, and, (I'm guessing), $50.00 to $100.00 for the belt, I would expect just the timing belt service to run around $600.00. If it's considerably less, that would be great, but if the belt breaks, you can expect it cost at least double to have the cylinder head removed to replace the bent valves.
Also be aware some shops put two mechanics on bigger jobs, so you might get a five-hour repair done in three hours. They do that to get your car back to you faster. You have double the chance of someone making a mistake, but there's a second person checking the other guy's work too.
I have to question your need for snow tires too. If your car has anti-lock brakes, it is critical that the outer circumference of all four tires be exactly the same. That is hard to achieve with two different tires. Snow tires don't help as much on front-wheel-drive vehicles as they do on rear-wheel-drive cars and trucks. My '88 Grand Caravan was never stuck once where I couldn't get out by myself, until last year when I slid on ice to between a tree and a sand pile. I've run tires in winter that were so bald, I'd roll my eyes if I saw them on anyone elses vehicle. Just yesterday I went through 6" if snow in a 400'-long driveway, and didn't have a problem until I got onto the highway. That's where our idiots throw a pound of salt onto an ounce of snow and turn it into slop and mush. It's much more dangerous driving on that than on packed snow.
I also have some newer Grand Caravans, and those are definitely not the same vehicles in snow. If there's a snowflake anywhere in the county, they're stuck. I really doubt your car is that bad, and that's why I'm questioning the benefit of snow tires.
Thursday, November 13th, 2014 AT 1:58 AM