The cost of vehicles and their related repairs are
expensive. Although the tips provided in this article
will not eliminate such expenses, they will help you
to take control of vehicle repairs and thus lower
We have all seen commercials on TV touting the "great
vehicle service" provided by dealer service departments.
They know your vehicle better than anyone else, they
use original replacement parts, etc. etc ... But at what
cost is such great service available? Well, usually at
about $75-$95 per hour.
In many instances, vehicle repairs can be completed
for substantially lower hourly rates. Many independent
garages employ ASE certified and licensed mechanics.
These garages generally charge about $40-$50 per
If you are unfamiliar with independent garages in
your area, it can be useful to talk with your friends
about which garages and mechanics have repaired their
vehicles. Be on the lookout for the names of garages
that are recommended over and over by numerous
Next, visit a few of the garages, talk with the owner,
and ask about the hourly rate charged for vehicle repairs.
Be sure to inquire if the rate charged for the repairs is a
"straight hourly rate" or a "book rate."
A straight hourly rate involves the amount of time that
it actually takes a mechanic to do a vehicle repair. On
the other hand, a book rate involves the customer being
charged an amount of time the book specifies a repair
For example, installing new front and rear brake pads
on a vehicle could take one hour. Using a straight rate
of $50 per hour, the repair would cost $50 for labor,
plus the cost of the brake pads. The book rate might
specify that it "should" take the mechanic 1.5 hours to
do the work. Thus, the customer would be charged $75
for the labor, plus the cost of the brake pads.
When using the book rate method, even if the brake
job takes the mechanic only 55 minutes to complete,
the customer is still charged for 1.5 hours of time.
The book rate method of doing vehicle repairs generally
benefits the garage and not the customer.
If the garage owner seems to squirm when you ask
about the billing method used for vehicle repairs, it is
best to visit other garages. Mechanic ASE certification,
licensure, and the garage owner's response to billing
practices will go a long way in your identifying the
garage that is right for you. Last, but not least, observe
how neat and orderly the repair shop looks. This is a
straight forward indication of how the garage is run.
In most instances, garages "mark-up" the price of
parts used for vehicle repairs. Garages purchase parts
at a wholesale prices and then mark-up the parts used
for repairs. Although it is becoming rarer and rarer today,
some garages will allow a customer to purchase the parts
that will be used to repair their vehicle. Such garages will
quote the customer on just the cost of labor to install the
It can be to a customer's advantage to get a quote on both
the parts and labor prior to having their vehicles repaired.
If the customer is so inclined, he or she can check on the cost
of parts at retail parts stores such as Auto Zone, or Advanced
Auto. In many instances, even better prices on parts can be
obtained by getting on the Internet and visiting sites such as:
When it comes to vehicle repairs, taking the time to ask
some questions and establish a good relationship with an
independent garage can really help to lower vehicle repair
costs. Identifying a garage and a mechanic with whom you are
comfortable makes all the difference in the world!
Kyle Busch is the author of "Drive the Best for the Price:
How to Buy a Used Automobile, Sport-Utility Vehicle, or
Minivan and Save Money." Learn more about the author
and the book at: www.drivethebestbook.com. The web site
accepts all transportation questions.
send feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org.