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Am I Being Overcharged for Auto Repairs?

LoveIsUnityLoveIsUnity Registered User regular
edited September 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
I have a 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid, and I am a little worried that I'm being overcharged for my car repairs. I took my car in to the shop today, because it was time for an oil change, and I had been having some issues with my battery (the regular battery, not the hybrid one.) According to the people at the shop, which is a reputable shop in terms of their ability to assess issues, I need an air filter, an oil change, a battery replacement, three new tires, and a front brake job. They quoted me $900 USD, which seems a bit on the steep side to me. What do the rest of you think? All of this is stuff that I need, but I can't help but wonder if I couldn't find this for cheaper elsewhere.

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    The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    Tires are wildly different in price, but I believe that $80-120/per is somewhat normal for "normal" tires. There's $300 there. Break work is dependent on what they're actually doing. The oil change and filter shouldn't be huge, but $80-150 isn't uncommon. Adding in labor and the breaks would make me feel like it is within a normal range, if a bit high. $500 for labor and the breaks doesn't sound too off-the-mark, but the breakdown by item would be more helpful.

    You're in the NE, right? I'd suggest calling Town Fare Tires and seeing if there's one around there. They have an amazing warranty and decent prices. When an ex-employee decided to slash three of my new tires (on two consecutive days) they didn't blink and eye and just swapped them out for no issue. There's a mechanic in the Metrowest MA area that I can pass along who is the most honest man I have ever met, and he does great work. I'm pretty sure that's too far from you.

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    naporeonnaporeon Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    First of all, that all sounds like it could be legit.

    Second of all, that is a pretty good price for all of that, especially if you need new rotors or calipers on those breaks.

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    ToxTox I kill threads he/himRegistered User regular
    $900 is probably not overly expensive for all of those repairs. There's a few things you need to consider.

    1) They're charging you parts + labor
    2) Non-domestic models tend to have more expensive parts
    3) Hybrids tend to have more expensive parts

    That being said, if you're concerned about whether or not those things actually need to be changed, there are ways you can test most of those things, more or less by yourself.

    Twitter! | Dilige, et quod vis fac
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    L Ron HowardL Ron Howard The duck MinnesotaRegistered User regular
    You can always take the quote to another repair shop, and let them take a look at the car and see what they say needs to be done.
    That said, that doesn't sound too unreasonable to me. It looks like a lot of routine maintenance that should have been or needs to be done.
    If I were replacing three tires though, I'd throw in the extra for the fourth while they're there.
    I'm not very familiar with the hybrids, but I know there is some system of regenerating while braking, which I can see can make it a bit costly.

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    LoveIsUnityLoveIsUnity Registered User regular
    Ah, shit, I didn't even consider the fact that braking and coasting recharges the battery. I just figured these are normal ass parts that are on all cars. Thanks for the help. I hate having to take my car in to the shop, because I know very little about cars and can't tell if something is legit or not. I appreciate all of your feedback. Also, am I correct in assuming that most shops give you a fourth tire when you buy three, or is that just relegated to some of those chains?

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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Get it itemized because your repairs could range from $600-1200, depending on what they're doing.

    That said, once you know, see if you can't talk them down $100 or ask for a free oil change for continuing business there.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    LoveIsUnityLoveIsUnity Registered User regular
    Tires are wildly different in price, but I believe that $80-120/per is somewhat normal for "normal" tires. There's $300 there. Break work is dependent on what they're actually doing. The oil change and filter shouldn't be huge, but $80-150 isn't uncommon. Adding in labor and the breaks would make me feel like it is within a normal range, if a bit high. $500 for labor and the breaks doesn't sound too off-the-mark, but the breakdown by item would be more helpful.

    You're in the NE, right? I'd suggest calling Town Fare Tires and seeing if there's one around there. They have an amazing warranty and decent prices. When an ex-employee decided to slash three of my new tires (on two consecutive days) they didn't blink and eye and just swapped them out for no issue. There's a mechanic in the Metrowest MA area that I can pass along who is the most honest man I have ever met, and he does great work. I'm pretty sure that's too far from you.

    Yeah, sadly, I am in New Jersey. I am not sure a trip to MA is what would be best for my tires and brakes at the moment. That sounds like a shop that is well worth recommending, though. Thank you for thinking of me.

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    The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    Yeah, sadly, I am in New Jersey. I am not sure a trip to MA is what would be best for my tires and brakes at the moment. That sounds like a shop that is well worth recommending, though. Thank you for thinking of me.

    Jersey, right! For some reason I was thinking Rhode Island.

    Yeah, I'd do as Ron and Bowen suggest and both get a second opinion as well as try to talk them down a bit.

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    LoveIsUnityLoveIsUnity Registered User regular
    Alright, here's the itemized breakdown:

    Tires - $107 each x3
    Balancing - $12.95 x3
    Battery - $102
    Front Brakes - $199
    Rotor Machining - $38
    Air Filter - $26
    Oil Change + Lube and whatever - $38

    They also charged me $30 to come to my place and give me a jump, and when the car wouldn't start, they changed the battery in my driveway. That's perfectly reasonable and was really nice of them.

    I guess this is all on the level based on prices that I've seen from some cursory internet searching and talking with all of you. It does, however, completely suck to have to pay this much money...

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    mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    that seems fine to me though it is weird they are selling you 3 tires. unless one tire is brand new I would just replace them all at teh same time. otherwise it will wear uneven on all teh tires.

    when i put new tires on my car last year, they had all sorts of rules with regards to tire placement and type based on wear and age etc, but that may just have been the place i got new tires from

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    L Ron HowardL Ron Howard The duck MinnesotaRegistered User regular
    edited September 2011
    @mts No, that's pretty standard.

    Like I said, I find replacing three tires to be weird and I'd just get all four brand new and be done with it.

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    LoveIsUnityLoveIsUnity Registered User regular
    Yeah, that makes sense.

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    tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    The tire thing seems weird, in that you normally replace tires in fours or pairs. Did they quote you for 3 because of some buy 3 get 1 deal?

    Otherwise while none of that is cheap, its not rip you off pricey.

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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    That battery looks a little on the expensive side ($15-20 too much) but everything else looks right.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    Like others have said, you're in pretty good shape. If you had the time and inclination, you could do the filter and battery yourself, but for that price, why bother. The oil change price is a deal, at least compared to where I am.

    And just in case it helps take the sting off, I just had to spend about $550 on two new tires. Mostly because they're a silly size, but oh well.

    Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
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    illigillig Registered User regular
    Everything there is pretty reasonable as far as average prices go. You can probably change the air filter and battery yourself and save $20-30 but that's minor.

    I would be most concerned about whether you really need the brakes and tires. A second opinion may be useful here.

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    ToxTox I kill threads he/himRegistered User regular
    Regarding tires, check your spare. If you have a donut (an emergency spare, as opposed to a full-size), it may be worth the extra cash (assuming you have it) to buy four new tires, take the nicest of the four old ones, and put it on a used rim they'll probably sell you for cheap. That way if you do end up with a flat down the line, you'll have a full size spare, so you can get the tire replaced on your own time (obviously you won't be able to keep the full size in the car)

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    The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    illig wrote:
    Everything there is pretty reasonable as far as average prices go. You can probably change the air filter and battery yourself and save $20-30 but that's minor.

    I would be most concerned about whether you really need the brakes and tires. A second opinion may be useful here.

    The air filter is easy as pie to do yourself, and picking up a nice K&N filter from your local AutoZone will give both slightly better gas mileage and aside from cleaning with water and oiling every 10k or so, is a better choice.

    I'd get a second opinion on the brakes and tires, certainly. If you take pics of your treads (i.e. the worn part) we can probably give some non-expert opinions to help you when you get a second opinion.

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    SquirrelmobSquirrelmob Registered User regular
    Along the lines of the OP, I'm curious as to how much brake-line repairs and a new alternator usually run for something like a 97 Ford Contour. Got quoted one price, then it got raised a bunch, and then pretty much was told "Meh, it'll be what it'll be"

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    L Ron HowardL Ron Howard The duck MinnesotaRegistered User regular
    I (stupidly) paid $600 or so on my '98 Contour when I needed the alternator fixed and I was in a bind. To do it yourself it would take only a couple of hours and a new alternator, so like $50 or so + an afternoon.
    Brake lines are tricky, as they've got to be bled dry, pulled out, have the new ones put in, then it has to be flushed. And if your car is kinda rusty, a ton of other stuff is probably going to fall off or break in the process (this is how Ford works).
    If the guy isn't giving you a definitive quote, go somewhere else. Yes, there will probably be some other things that will need to be replaced; but if the guy is reputable, he will call you and ask your permission to have it replaced when it breaks, and give you an updated estimate on how much the total will be.

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    SquirrelmobSquirrelmob Registered User regular
    I (stupidly) paid $600 or so on my '98 Contour when I needed the alternator fixed and I was in a bind. To do it yourself it would take only a couple of hours and a new alternator, so like $50 or so + an afternoon.
    Brake lines are tricky, as they've got to be bled dry, pulled out, have the new ones put in, then it has to be flushed. And if your car is kinda rusty, a ton of other stuff is probably going to fall off or break in the process (this is how Ford works).
    If the guy isn't giving you a definitive quote, go somewhere else. Yes, there will probably be some other things that will need to be replaced; but if the guy is reputable, he will call you and ask your permission to have it replaced when it breaks, and give you an updated estimate on how much the total will be.

    Well, we thought the alternator quote was way to high, so we passed on that, but it's a bigger service chain that my 'rents have a card through, and have no problem just taking care of the brakes there, even if it does end up pricier than it should be. But yeah, it's in pretty rough shape (we used it as an ice-racing vehicle for a couple years when I didn't need a car at college), so I wouldn't be surprised if a ton of stuff comes apart while the brakes are being fixed.

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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    Here ya go: http://repairpal.com

    Unfortunately it doesn't have estimate for a brake line replacement, which sounds cheap from a parts perspective, but expensive from a labor perspective.

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    The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    My only reference for break lines are performance aftermarket, which tend toward the $100 range. That said, they should be pretty cheap from a parts perspective and my understanding is that labor shouldn't be huge for something like that.

    Alternators generally come (if I remember correctly) around the $150-200 range, on average and with parts and labor.

    I'd guess around $100-150 for both, but it depends on the car and the mechanic. That, like all my calculations, is probably a bit conservative.

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    SquirrelmobSquirrelmob Registered User regular
    Djeet wrote:
    Here ya go: http://repairpal.com

    Unfortunately it doesn't have estimate for a brake line replacement, which sounds cheap from a parts perspective, but expensive from a labor perspective.

    Thanks. I've added that to my bookmarks for future reference.
    But yeah, it sounded like labor is the major cost here, at least how it was presented to me over the phone (and it made sense, but I'm not much of a car repair person)

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    The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    Djeet wrote:
    Here ya go: http://repairpal.com

    Unfortunately it doesn't have estimate for a brake line replacement, which sounds cheap from a parts perspective, but expensive from a labor perspective.

    Thanks. I've added that to my bookmarks for future reference.
    But yeah, it sounded like labor is the major cost here, at least how it was presented to me over the phone (and it made sense, but I'm not much of a car repair person)

    If you know anyone who is a "car person" you may want to ask about the break lines. If you know someone who has done so before, a few times, you can save the cash. I wouldn't consider lines to be the sort of diy you try without good supervision. The alternator should be simpler. All of this is if you know someone who knows what they're doing.

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    SquirrelmobSquirrelmob Registered User regular
    Djeet wrote:
    Here ya go: http://repairpal.com

    Unfortunately it doesn't have estimate for a brake line replacement, which sounds cheap from a parts perspective, but expensive from a labor perspective.

    Thanks. I've added that to my bookmarks for future reference.
    But yeah, it sounded like labor is the major cost here, at least how it was presented to me over the phone (and it made sense, but I'm not much of a car repair person)

    If you know anyone who is a "car person" you may want to ask about the break lines. If you know someone who has done so before, a few times, you can save the cash. I wouldn't consider lines to be the sort of diy you try without good supervision. The alternator should be simpler. All of this is if you know someone who knows what they're doing.

    Oh, for sure. For these I'm probably going to go through garages for both, since I'm mildly crunched for time and no longer have a place (did once) to actually work on a car.
    I pulled the trigger on the brake line repairs and they came right in the middle of what he thought they might be, about 350 to replace the whole thing, so I'll take it. Now I'm waiting until tomorrow to see if I can confirm a lower quote on the alternator at another garage and try to talk this one down. *crossing my fingers*

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