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Is it rude to question a car repair estimate?

When a car repair shop calls and gives me an estimate to fix my car, is it rude to question the charges, e.g. “Gee, you want HOW MUCH for that part?, I can get it for much less at the local auto parts store”.

Does that just piss them off, and affect the quality of work?

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18 Responses to “Is it rude to question a car repair estimate?”

  1. the bad seed said :

    no, not rude at all..
    and you can get the price down by doing it

  2. italy_coolfun said :

    Always ask questions. If you feel the prices are high, ask them if they can do better on the pricing. Just explain that you usually always get 2 estimates but want to see what the best they can do is and save the trouble.

    Asking questions is one preventative of being ripped off or taken advantage of. Knowledge is power.

  3. the-kid said :

    its not rude, its your car. they have heard it before. after you find out what part it needs, call a parts store and compare. they do charge more for a part than what you can go in and buy off the shelf but that is part of the labor. as long as its not way over the amount

  4. Jim L said :

    Most parts can be purchased at your local auto parts store. But they are not installing the part, and if it is bad they do not have to remove the part and put another one back on for free. You are not just paying for a part at the service station, you are paying for “service”

  5. William F. D said :

    Don’t you want them to make some monies? Can you take two eggs and three strips of bacon to the diner? Do you get my drift??

  6. MR. T. said :

    It’s not rude it’s your right!
    You can get the part cheaper, most likely but then you’ll have to do the work, or get someone else to do it, Your also going to have to pay them for the diagnostic, or troubleshooting most likely. They do usually pass on an increase of the part (called mark up) because they have to pay for delivery or someone to go pick it up. It shouldn’t be to much if it is this is a good question to ask.
    as one answerer said, tell them nicely you usually like to get 2 estimates.

  7. fordman said :

    Get 3 estimates on the repairs and if they are different in prices, then inquire why the difference. If it is an accident repair that is covered by insurance, let them worry about it. If it is a mechanical repair or body repair that you are paying for yourself, then ask all the questions that you want. You will be the one signing the check, so you have the right to know. In a manner, you are their boss, you are the one hiring them to do a job, you have the right to say or know what is going on with the repair.

    good luck.

  8. Tekkaman Saber said :

    Actually no. That is a good way to let them know that you may be checking on the prices of parts to ensure that you are not being taken advantage of.

    Some shops complain when you show up with your own parts that you purchased, but are unable to put them on your vehicle.

    I never complained about my customers questioning the cost of parts or showing up with parts they purchased. Sometimes they would be of inferior quality, but I would never complain about it. I understand, because heck I own a car or two also, and am looking for the best deal on parts myself!

    Besides, I made my money on the labor anyway. Parts never makes the shop money, unless its a dealership. But then again that is where I work.

    Just understand, most of the private shops charge about 10% over their cost for the parts. In the end they are only making maybe a buck or two on the part.

    I hope that answers your question.

  9. Uncle Red said :

    NO WAY!
    I want the custome to ask me any and all questions about my pricing. Here in lies the fact. At my shop I encourage you to read it and know what I am doing to your car. I also let you see the old parts just for your peace of mind that we in fact changed what we said.
    Now if someone does get pissy, I would say thanks and go find another shop, I would be very suspect of the guy who is there to help himself and not the customer.

  10. larmarine83 said :

    Asking the question is not rude, but the tone you ask it in can make it rude. When you get a written estimate, it is natural that you will want to talk it over with your mechanic so that you have a better understanding of what is to be done and what each charge is for. Don’t question weather they are trying to rip you off, just politely ask about the prices, what they are for, what each price gets you and so on. It is important that people know and understand the work they are having done and what all the charges are.

    Remember, some parts are expensive, and alot of times, the parts you can pick up at AutoZone are not the correct part, they may fit, but they won’t work right. Yes, there are mechanics out there who will rip you off if you don’t know what you are asking about, but that is the minority, not the majority. Most mechanics do the best they can, granted some just don’t know what they are talking about, which is worse then ripping you off, but for the most part, they are just trying to make a living, but not trying to rip anyone off.

    So I encourage you to talk over your estimate with your mechanic, it is important that you understand what you are paying for and what you are getting. Don’t be rude, just ask him about it, they will be happy to tell you what each charge is and what you will be getting in return for each charge.

  11. Mr. KnowItAll said :

    No. Well, it depends on HOW you ask.

    If, I were a shop owner, and someone said to me “Gee, you want HOW MUCH for that part?, I can get it for much less at the local auto parts store”
    That would irritate me a Little.

    If, however someone said simply “That seems kind of pricey.”
    I would take the time to explain the difference in the quality, and workmanship in the parts I’m providing compared to the cheap China or Korea made aftermarket parts that are available at a lesser price, and that there is an old saying “”You get what you pay for”. and I can guaranty my parts.

    It’s not wrong to question anything. Just do it with some couth.

  12. vwhobo said :

    Yes, you can almost always get a part from the local parts store than I’ll charge you for it, but… Ask yourself this. What exactly is the warranty that the parts store will give me, and will they pay for the labor to replace it if it’s defective? When I give my customers a 15 month/15,000 mile no hassle warranty on all parts and labor it means just that, parts and labor. Something else you need to keep in mind is that time is money, and it takes time to locate and procure parts. Some take a lot of time.

    I’ll be happy to install your parts that you carry in, but if they crap before you get out the parking lot, well, I hope saving a few dollars on the parts will be enough to pay for me (or someone else) to remove the defective item so you can go get your warranty at the parts store. Oh yeah, and don’t forget about re-installing it too.

    Allow me to give you a couple of examples. In the recent past I had a customer that needed a repair based around a difficult to find, used main wiring harness. He though my price of $250 for the part was outrageous because he found it online for only $175. To save $75 he drove 200+ miles round trip. If he was getting paid minimum wage for his time, that was worth $30 so now he’s only saved $45. Now subtract the price of gas and his savings is down to about $20. Now when he pulls into my shop and he has the wrong part that is non-returnable, how much has he saved? You know the answer and so did he. This time he let me supply the harness.

    I also in the last year or so replaced a water pump and timing belt on an ’05 Amanti. It’s a fairly involved job. The customer told me her husband could get a water pump cheaper than I wanted. He saved about $20 (on a several hundred dollar job) by having me install his remanufactured pump as opposed to my new pump. A few days after picking up her car, she walked out to drive home and there was a huge puddle of coolant under it. The remanufactured pump was leaking. It cost them an additional 4.5 hours labor to save $20. Good job.

    I know this isn’t the answer you want to hear, but these two occasions illustrate my point, and I hope it helps you to see the error of your ways. Most independent repair shops are already selling you parts and labor as cheaply as they can and still stay in business. Most of us just want to do you a professional job at a price that still lets us feed our family.

    If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me. Have a nice day.

  13. kontrolfreak66 said :

    Some may consider it rude, but sometimes you must get rude to get what you want. If you think the estimate is high, call them on it. If you are not satisified with the result, take your business elsewhere. A reputable shop will have no problem explaining the estimate to you.

  14. Robert S said :

    No its defintely not. They wouldn’t feel bad about scamming you out of your money!

  15. ickypig65 said :

    Yes, but do it anyway.

  16. texasm said :

    You have every right to question their estimate and their parts price and their labor times. I make a living do this. You can even ask them to show you in the labor guide to verify the labor time they are asking for. Every time the phone rings, I have to verify parts and labor and it does make them a bit agitated when they tell me what labor guide they are using, and I look in the exact same guide and it calls for half the time they are asking for. You have every right to tell them where to get the parts, and if they say they can’t do that because they can’t guarantee the part, they are full of crap. I deal with this daily, and I ship alot of parts if I feel the prices they are asking are more than the warranty will assist with. They do ask the customer to pay the difference between what price I can get the part for, and what they want for it. When the customer doesn’t want to pay the difference, I will ship a part from anywhere in the country to anywhere in the country. They will use those parts or the customer will be asked to move the vehicle to a shop that does want to make the money. On one claim I found the shop’s part price was double the factory price. I set the price at dealer price and told him to get the parts from the dealer. He said he would still have to mark them up 50%, so I said I can’t tell you what to charge the customer, but when the customer calls me and asks me why you want more than their deductible, I am going to tell them why. So he put the customer on the phone and I told her I cannot TELL her to move her car, but if it were being repaired at the dealer, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, because the price is set based on what the dealer would charge. She moved the car to the dealer and when he called back and I started the claim, half of the reported failures turned out to be false. You have EVERY right to question them, and to refuse their services, but also every right to tell them what parts to use on YOUR car. Most parts come with a warranty anyway, so whether or not they stand behind it, you can always use your warranty on that part no matter who does the work on it later. They will BS you about being able to warranty their labor, but trust me, 9 times out of 10 they are going to get the part from the same place you can get it from. They are just going to mark it up 50% to 100%. Ask all the questions you can. IT IS YOUR MONEY.

    Most shops are more than happy to hand you a 6/6000 mile warranty, 12/12,000 warranty, a 24/240000 mile warranty, etc, but you can buy an aftermarket part from the same place they will get it from, and get a lifetime warranty on it. They will stick to their policy. When the part fails outside of warranty and you go back, THEIR REAR IS COVERED on the part, but you will be charged for it again, and charged for labor again. They are covered because they used a lifetime warranty part. They will get it replaced for NOTHING, but you will be charged for the part again. I wish I could point out two examples for you on aftermarket parts, but with water pumps, you can get NEW LIFETIME WARRANTY pumps aftermarket at a fraction of the cost shops want, from the SAME retailer. How many examples can be pointed out where aftermarket parts were used, and actually were cost effective, and actually took care of the problem? None. Those cars are still running, and if they did fail, what shop will admit they used the cheapest part they could find, but charged you for the factory part? None.

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