Like purchasing any other type of product or service, it’s common for car owners to ask for quotes before determining which shop should do the work. Mechanics take a lot of factors into account before determining this quote. The shop’s labor rate, the time it takes to perform the repair, the price of materials, and profit margins are all factors that go into determining how much money an auto shop will quote you.
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A disparity between different quotes can come from a variety of factors. However, if the prices are similar, you can feel confident in knowing that the estimates are right on track.
Here’s a closer look at the factors that go into determining a cost estimate and how they impact the final quote:
Cost of materials — The cost of the material used in your vehicle can have an impact on the quote. Parts acquired directly from the manufacturer will be more expensive. High-end vehicles may require using special brands, which can be costly. If you don’t have a high-end car, material costs can be an indication of the quality of the materials going into your vehicle.
Many shops use aftermarket parts for repairs because they’re cheaper. However, while cheaper, some of these products don’t last as long as original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts or perform as well. That’s not to say that aftermarket products are all bad, but even within the category of aftermarket vehicle parts, there are nuances in quality. When getting a quote, you should consider asking shop employees what kind of products they will be putting into your vehicle.
Profits from materials — Auto shops are a business and are, therefore, trying to make a profit. One way they do this is by increasing the prices of the materials they need to replace. Most shops want a 50 percent profit. To accomplish this, they use a matrix to determine how much to mark up the cost of a part. Generally, lower priced parts increase in cost by a higher percentage.
Cost of labor — Labor costs highly depend on where you live as well as what type of vehicle you are getting repaired. If you live in an area with a higher cost of living, the labor rates might be higher, too, so that mechanics can make enough money to live. Additionally, if you are looking to repair a high-end vehicle, the costs of repair will be higher.
Another variable in determining labor costs is the experience of the mechanics. Some shops charge a higher rate because their mechanics are top-notch. That extra money doesn’t just go to paying for their expertise, but also to providing education and training for their mechanics so they can stay up to speed with technological advancements. When you pay those higher fees, you’re essentially investing in how the shop will care for their clients’ needs in the future.
Time estimation — Time guides such as ALLDATA are a significant source for auto shops when it comes to determining how long it will take to perform a specific repair on your vehicle. ALLDATA is an online database that provides diagnostic and repairs information. ALLDATA provides an estimated time to make a specific repair on a vehicle, while building in a small time cushion just in case. A different quote price may be caused by one shop using the buffer time in their calculations, while the other shop doesn’t. However, when it comes to charging customers, auto shops will generally only charge the customer for the time they’ve spent doing productive work on the vehicle.
When it comes to car maintenance, it’s important to make sure that the most qualified mechanics are making repairs on your vehicle and that they are using quality parts. While you may be tempted to go with the cheapest estimate, you may regret it in the long run if the parts fail earlier than they should, or the repair job is shoddy. To avoid these types of issues, ask for a breakdown of your price quote, and ask which brands the mechanics will be putting into your vehicle. You should also look at customer reviews, as they will provide added insights into the service the shop offers.