Insider Tips: How to Negotiate a Better Price for Auto Repairs

Brian Glastetter
February 25, 2011

“Why are car repairs so expensive?” 

As a dealership shop foreman, I have been asked this question, in one form or another, many times. A 90-thousand mile service can run upwards of $800. A few add-on repairs, such as a Check Engine Light, could easily push it over a grand. Sometimes, you may drop off your vehicle for a simple oil change and get a call from the shop regarding some unexpected, but essential, repairs.

So, is there anything you can do to get discounts and savings at an automotive repair facility? Here are some insider tips:

  • Before dropping off your vehicle, visit the repair facility’s website for discounts and coupons.

  • Go to the same repair facility on a regular basis. A recent trend in the industry is to offer reward club type discounts, which can add up to substantial savings. Need help finding a shop you can trust? Find one that has been Certified for fairness and holds industry accreditations, like ASE.

  • Just ask! Try saying, “I would give you approval for this repair if you could give me a break on the price.” Trust me, it works. Most times, service advisers are commissioned and would rather make less than lose a sale entirely.

  • Most places offer military, AARP, and AAA discounts, if requested.

  • Ask for alternative parts. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts are typically the most expensive, but even dealerships can offer high-quality alternatives.

  • A little-known fact on vehicle repairs just out of warranty—most manufacturer dealerships are able to offer assistance for customer loyalty. Again, you just have to ask (politely).

  • Sign up on the company’s website for coupons through e-mail. Most legitimate companies will not spam you. They want to give high-quality offers to make sure you keep coming back.

  • Be informed—most manufacturer websites and owner’s manuals have the recommended scheduled maintenance requirements listed. You can also easily view your maintenance schedule online. Don’t let anyone sell you add-on maintenance that is unnecessary.

  • Most repair facilities can and will offer price matching. Always check RepairPal's estimator for a fair price range on your service. And if you're visiting a Certified shop, it's required.
  • Always negotiate the rates and prices before the work is performed—you have less of an advantage once the service is completed.

The best advice? More can be accomplished by being pleasant than by being disagreeable and aggressive. Most shops are becoming increasingly flexible to stay competitive. Just ask and be nice—you may be surprised how far that can get you!


Brian Glastetter

About the Author

I am a 21+ year Senior Master Technician and a Master ASE technician at a Ford dealership. I take pride knowing that I deliver a quality repair with honesty and integrity.

1 User Comment

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By , December 18, 2015
I think the best option for getting good prices on parts and service, is being able to trust your shop. having a good team that know what you need to get done for your car to preform at it's best is crucial. There are not many I trust with my car, but the ones that I can trust, always give me fair and reasonable prices.