The 3 Biggest Factors That Determine Auto Repair Costs
Auto repair costs are, unsurprisingly, a primary concern for most drivers, and there are some problems — like an out-of-commission engine or transmission — that always seem to cost a bundle. But there are actually three factors that go into pricing repairs. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
The most basic cost of any repair is determined by the price of the necessary parts. These are generally set by the manufacturer, so your repair shop doesn’t have any more control over them than you do; the cost simply gets passed along to you. If your total auto repair cost seems high when you’re getting a quote or checking your bill, you can ask for a breakdown by parts (if it’s not already listed that way).
Of course, repair technicians need to get paid for the time they spend making a repair. Depending on what the problem is, they may need to disassemble other parts of your car to reach the affected area, which can increase labor costs.The oft-forgotten element in estimating fair labor costs is that when you break down a charge by the hours actually spent on the repair, you also need to take into account the education and special training a technician has undergone in the past. You’re paying not only for the hours your technician spends working specifically on your car, but also the expertise he or she has spent time building.
Just as in numerous other industries, prices will vary depending on where an auto repair shop is located. States like New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island (and, perhaps surprisingly, Wyoming and Nebraska) have higher average repair costs than most states in the South, for example.This is important to keep in mind if you’re using an online tool to get auto repair estimates and then comparing those to quotes from local auto repair shops. There are auto repair estimators that have you enter your zip code, which should help you get a more accurate result, but it’s probably more productive to actually see a few technicians in your area and compare their estimates against one other.
Of course, one tried-and-true method of keeping your repair costs down is staying on top of maintenance. A recent survey found that 77% of the cars inspected were in need of maintenance or repairs; if left unaddressed, simple problems like worn brake pads (which should never be thinner than one-eighth of an inch) can turn into expensive repairs like rotor replacements.