Auto Repair – Average Costs

Every now and again we get a few upset mechanics or shop owners complaining that it is not possible for RepairTrust to provide accurate car repair estimates. They go on to say that we don’t know what we’re talking about…that we’re idiots…and many other colorful words.

Following is one such discussion on car repair costs. It’s highlighted here to illustrate the resistance and defiance of the auto repair industry to anyone suggesting a fair car repair price – even an average – other than the repair facility itself. While there is some merit to this, there are some basic math principles that are difficult to argue with.

This particular shop owner writes via email:

I would like you to inform me on “what” I should charge for a given repair without you knowing anything about my business, about my warranty, my benefits for employees, my services or overhead. Please explain with clarity how you can predetermine the cost of doing business from one location to another?

I would really be surprised if anyone replied to this request. Advise at a cost?? Come-on boys… lets come up with intelligent response here…

RepairTrust immediately responded (edited for length):


Thank you for contacting RepairTrust. We very much appreciate your thoughts.

Your question is a great one, and it has been raised before by other auto repair professionals in the industry.

Just so I’m clear, you’d like to know how we can price a job fairly without ever seeing it or knowing a shop’s particular set-up (salary, overhead…etc.) This question, again, while a good one, always surprises me.

I’ve been estimating car repairs on all makes and models both foreign and domestic for over twenty years. I would suspect that as a repair shop owner you provide estimates to your clients on a daily basis as well. Most times this is done while the vehicle is in your possession. Other times, customers would like you to tell them what certain repairs are going to cost prior to coming in – correct…?

Letting customers know what repairs are going to cost ahead of time is just one of the many services that RepairTrust provides.

How we do it is simple:

The labor rate is the labor rate.

The labor times are determined from fair and well-established industry pricing standards (discussed at length in our eBooks).

Part prices are part prices (OEM/MSRP anyway, and less the matrix). The matrix is also discussed at length in our materials.

Premium aftermarket parts are strikingly similar in cost across the nation. Miscellaneous charges, flat fees, shop supplies, hazardous waste, disposal charges…etc, follow a similar pattern as well.

We even go so far as to account for local taxes, labor rates, and unforeseen circumstances (rust, corrosion…all the stuff a tech runs into during a repair).

As a shop owner, when you provide an estimate, am I correct in assuming that you would add “barring any unforeseen circumstances” to any price you quoted?

A RepairTrust auto repair estimate is detailed, accurate, and fair for both the car repair customer and the repair facility. Our primary goal is fair.

As for charging to provide a fair, accurate, and unbiased auto repair estimate, we know the value of our service, as do our clients.

98% of all repair shops are charging excessive car repair prices. The consumer has few resources in which to turn. This statistic is supported by every government consumer agency – including Alaska, major and independent news sources, as well as a variety of consumer advocate groups.

The problem of excessive car repair prices is not just national; it’s intercontinental. Australia recently found that auto repair shops were number 4 on their top 10 consumer complaint list.

I hope this answers at least some of your questions.

Thank you again for your comments, and please keep the professional lines of communication open.


Ted Olson – Founder,

It should be noted that the shop owner’s primary issues of overhead and expenses are commonly used justifications to manipulate industry pricing guidelines in favor of the repair shop. This has been going on for so long that it’s considered normal.