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Mechanic's Corner

How Do Shops Come Up with an Estimate?

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These days, automotive service and repair shops are getting more calls than ever asking for an estimate. We understand that this is mostly due to the economy. People are understandably searching for the best value, and they want to make sure they can afford to pay for the service.

Many consumers want to know exactly how we arrive at the estimated price, so I thought I would take a moment and explain.

An estimate consists of three parts:

  1. The labor rate 
  2. Parts and supplies 
  3. Overhead


Labor Rate
An automotive service and repair shop estimates the labor rate by determining how long any given service or repair should take. These guidelines are further established by the manufacturer of each vehicle estimating the time it takes a trained technician to perform the specific task.

Parts and Supplies
Since we can’t fix things without parts and supplies, they are also included in the estimate. There are two kinds of parts—OEM and “Aftermarket.” The parts manufactured by the original car manufacturer are known as original equipment manufacturer or OEM parts. Aftermarket car parts include parts for replacement, collision, performance, and appearance. These parts are usually cheaper than the new OEM parts.

Shops such as mine make sure we use quality parts since they last longer and, in our opinion, save our customers more money down the road. These parts also come with a warranty, so if the part fails or doesn’t perform as it should, we can replace it without the consumer having to pay for it all over again. My shop has a 24,000-mile/2-year warranty, for example. Supplies include such things as replacement fluids and disposal fees.

Overhead
Items that might be included in overhead costs are the building lease/mortgage and utilities; the constant training service technicians must take to keep up with technology; diagnostic and scanning equipment; and staff benefits.

The goal of independent service and repair shops is to provide quality parts and labor with an excellent warranty.

I hope this helps clarify how we arrive at an estimate.

Happy Motoring!

Add a Comment (2) Comments
  • alex92007, January 25, 2013, 03:07
     Rookie

    jiffy lube wants to charge me $350 for labor and $375 for parts to replace my AC Compressor, seems a bit much? what do think?

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  • Visitor, February 15, 2013, 11:37

    One reason to do it yourself is if you have an old car that is not worth fixing professionally. Use the professional who uses the best parts to make the car safe and dependable, like timing belts, suspension parts, wiring harnesses, and then the after market DIY for oil, filters,etc. Cheaper synthetic oil is something you can DIY for the price of conventional oil and extend the life of that old car.

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