I can give you two examples from when I worked for a very nice family-owned Chrysler dealership all through the '90s. I did this repair on a few late '80s Grand Caravans. In fact, I'm sitting in an '88 right now freezing my toes off! If the vehicle was out-of-warranty, meaning the owner didn't have an aftermarket service contract, the repair took about two and a half to three hours if it had the maximum of 22 wires for power windows, locks, mirrors, and courtesy light and speaker. I never removed the door, but one other fellow did. Back then we were one of the lowest per hour shops in town, and as I recall, it was around $70.00 per hour. Today most shops have to charge more than $100.00 per hour, and with all the government regulations and taxes, I don't know how they can stay in business charging so little.
If the owner had an aftermarket service contract, first of all, over half of them resulted in "what you need isn't covered". I heard that much too often. When the contract DID cover the repair, the only way the insurance company would cover it was if we replaced the wiring harness with the problem, then sent them the old one to inspect. That harness started inside the driver's door, ran through the "A" pillar into the body where a two-inch square plug had to fished through a one-inch square hole to the fuse box, then it went under the bottom of the windshield to the other side, so that meant removing the steering column and dash, into another connector hidden there, then on to the passenger door, and under the passenger's sill plate and up the "B" pillar to the power lock contacts for the sliding door, and under the carpet to light inside the sliding storage door under the seat. THAT repair took about eight hours, and the new harness was real expensive, as they always are. Then, the company would only pay six hours labor. That means I worked two hours for free, the owner had already paid over $800.00 for the contract, and there was a deductible that he still had to pay. There was also the risk of ending up with a squeak or rattle in the dash.
Connectors are always a sore point in cars because salt and moisture can get in there and corrode the terminals. That's why the engineers made one huge harness instead of multiple smaller ones. It added to the reliability, and they never expected it to have to be replaced. With an extended warranty through Chrysler, they allowed us to repair the harness, and paid the full amount of time it took us.
As you can see, as is usually the case, service contracts are not a good value, at least back then. Today cars have so many unnecessary, unreliable, and complicated computers to do things we never needed them for before, but you have to be careful if you buy one of those over-priced contracts. Most exclude computers and other electrical repairs. Also, with the aftermarket ones, repair shops have such a hard time getting paid, so now they make the owners pay the repair bill, then they let them try to get reimbursed. The contract companies usually respond to the owners faster.
Friday, January 16th, 2015 AT 10:37 PM