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Q: diagnostic fees on 2002 Ford Windstar

I see many questions here regarding repairs and listings of repair costs, but never see or hear anything about costs to diagnose something. Electrical, driveability, i.e. check engine light, rough running...What does the average person expect to pay a shop to find out if its "just a battery or something more?"
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Diagnostic fees can vary quite a bit depending on the problem you are experiencing, and there are no industry standards so it is difficult to supply this information reliably. I can give you a general idea though. You can assume that a shop will charge 1 hour diagnosis for most problems like noises from the suspension, oil leaks and minor electrical or engine problems. When you have check engine lights on, engine driveability problems and intermittent problems you can get into 1 - 2 hours or more. Just make sure the shop gives you an estimate up front, in writing, and they should inform you when they have reached the agreed upon time limit, and let you know if they need more time, which is not uncommon.
The price varies depending on your problem. Electrical usually runs around $40-60, Check engine light or running rough is $80-150, Suspension or steering concern is $40-60. The exact price all depends on the region and shop.
Regarding the comment "just a battery or something more?" You can usually tell if it is a battery or alternator problem depending on what happens when you turn the key. If it is turning over, like it is trying to start then it is something more and Engine Diagnostics is what you need. If you turn the key and nothing happens or you just hear clicking then you need your battery, alternator and starter tested.
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