About Repair Estimates

About Our Auto Repair Estimates

RepairTrust models established fair pricing practices (as outlined in its eBooks and vehicle maintenance guides). It uses state-of-the-art auto repair estimating software plus 25 years of auto repair pricing expertise to obtain the most accurate and fair car repair estimates.

In regard to part prices, aftermarket part price quotes are based off premium parts, unless otherwise noted. The labor rate defaults to $100.00 per hour, unless otherwise noted. The tax rate defaults to 5%, parts only, unless otherwise noted.

Estimates are dependent on customer-supplied information, and can not account for unforeseen circumstances. High mileage and/or older vehicles often require additional parts and/or labor to complete repairs properly, thus estimates may need to be adjusted.

All car repair estimates are subject to change without notice.

Glossary of Common Auto Repair Terms

Auto repair estimates are often a jumble of acronyms and confusing language. Following is a short reference guide for your convenience:

Aftermarket parts: auto parts not made by a manufacturer such as Ford, Toyota, BMW …etc.

MSRP: Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer. Parts built by or for the manufacturer. They’re the parts your car came with when new.

TSBs: Technical Service Bulletins. Notes and information from the manufacturer about known issues with your vehicle (these are not recalls)

Flat Fees: services such as alignments and machine work that don’t get broken down into parts, tax, and labor

Miscellaneous Charges: these can include, but are not limited to shop supplies – rags, chemicals, hazardous waste, disposal fees, waste oil …etc.

What you’ll notice about our Car Repair Estimate outline below (compared to an invoice from your auto repair shop) is the complete break down of charges. Breaking down the charges is the best way to ensure you’re getting treated fairly.


Car repair estimates can be confusing so let’s break it down into small parts so you can get a better idea if your auto repair shop is charging you appropriately.

Understanding Car Repair Estimates: The Basic Components

There are 6 basic areas of an auto repair estimate:

  1. Customer and Vehicle Information
  2. Labor Description and Amount
  3. Auto Parts
  4. Miscellaneous Charges
  5. Flat Fees
  6. Summary of Charges

Auto Repair Estimate Breakdown

1) Customer and Vehicle Information. Using a generic repair estimate, the top portion simply contains your personal information, your vehicle’s specifics: year, make, model, mileage…etc, and your request or concern.

What we also want to notice is the shop’s labor rate. The labor rate is critical in determining if you paid too much. Notice that labor rate is not listed in our example. Few repair centers list the labor rate. Make sure you know what the rate is.

First
Last
Address
City
State
Phone
Ben
Jipped
123 Lane
Boston
MA
555-555-5555
Year
Make
Model
Engine
Transmission
Mileage
2005
Toyota
Camry
4
Auto
30,000
Stated concern/problem:
Customer requests a 30,000 mile service

 

2) Labor Description. Labor is billed in tenths. So 1.0 equals 1 hour. 1.5 equals an hour and a half.

Auto repair labor rates range from $60 to $120 per hour at local repair shops. $80 to $160 per hour at the dealer level.

Let’s look at a “clear” labor description for a 30,000 mile service. Notice, that we’ve included the labor rate (i.e., the shop’s hourly charge to service your automobile). If you don’t see the shop’s labor rate posted on the car repair invoice, ask your service center for the rate.

By not posting the labor rate on your invoice, repair shops can manipulate the charges with a labor matrix. We expand on this in detail in our eBooks. Essentially, the matrix is a complicated and ethically questionable practice.

What you need to know is that you can pay as high as $150 per hour rather than the posted labor rate of $105 per hour.

To protect yourself, you’ll want to multiply the number of hours billed (also often not posted) by the shop’s labor rate to determine if you’ve been charged accordingly – at least in accordance to what the repair shop thinks is fair.

To know if it’s fair is a bit harder, which is why we wrote our eBooks. For now, let’s look at a good labor description.

Auto Repair Labor Description

Labor
Description
2.0
Performed 30,000 mile service per customer request, and in accordance with manufacturer guidelines. Changed oil and filter, installed new air filter, cabin filter and performed all necessary tests, checks, and procedures including road test. Performed lubrication services and confirmed proper vehicle operation.Note: vehicle is pulling slightly left. Needs alignment
Contacted client (1:00PM). Client agreed to alignment…see below
Total Hours:
2.0
Labor Rate:
100.00
Total Labor Charge:
200.00

 

3) Auto Parts. Car parts are listed usually with a brief description, the quantity, and the price. The example below shows an easy-to-read break down of the parts list for the 30,000 mile service mentioned above.

Qty
Description
Net
Aftermarket
MSRP/OEM
1
Air Filter
17.05
1
Cabin Filter
32.40
1
Oil Filter
5.41
4
Qts. Motor Oil
2.78
11.12
Total Parts:
65.98

 

4) Miscellaneous Charges. The bulk of your car repair invoice will be parts and labor, but Miscellaneous Charges add up too. These charges can include, but are not limited to, shop supplies–rags, chemicals, hazardous waste, disposal fees, waste oil …etc. The latter of these may be billed out separately in a summary at the bottom of the invoice.

In truth, very few of these “extras” are actually used during regular repairs. Miscellaneous charges are calculated off the amount of labor hours billed, not the amount of miscellaneous items actually used. The $2.75 below is cheap. Some charges can be as high as $25.00.

Misc
Description
Charge
1
Shop supplies
2.75
Total Miscellaneous Charges:
2.75

 

5) Flat Fees. Flat fees can be another very tricky area. Flat fees are services, such as an alignment, which don’t get broken down into parts, tax, and labor. This of course makes it very difficult to determine the real and/or fair price. On the plus side, most flat fees are competitively priced.

Another term for Flat Fee is called Menu Selling. In other words, you might see Tune Up: $99.99 or Transmission Flush: $89.99. These are flat prices sold to you from a menu of services, which your vehicle may or may not need (usually not). Follow your manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations only, not a dealer’s or repair shop’s maintenance schedule. For an interesting read on this topic, click car maintenance costs

Flat Fees
Description
Charge
1
Performed 4-wheel alignment. Set vehicle to factory specifications, road tested, ok (specification sheet attached)
89.99
Total Flat Fees
89.99

 

6) Summary of Charges. The last part of an auto repair estimate is the summary of charges. It’s usually found in the bottom right hand corner of the invoice. Check it against the charges above to ensure that it all adds up mathematically, as well as logically.

This example is a basic estimate. Your particular invoice may have other categories such as “Sublet” or “HazMat.” A sublet charge is added when your auto repair shop uses another vender to fix or repair your car, such as a glass company that replaces your windshield. A HazMat charge may include waste oil or other disposal fees. Just make sure the charges are warranted, as again, they’re often calculated off the labor time rather than actual need.

Auto Repair Estimate Overview:
Total Labor:
200.00
Total Parts:
65.98
Miscellaneous:
2.75
Flat Fees:
89.99
Tax (5%, parts only)
3.30
Grand Total:
$362.02

 

Complete Car Repair Estimate. When you put it all together, it looks like this.

Note: this particular estimate was calculated for a client who was quoted $450 for a 30,000 mile service on his 2005 Toyota Camry – not including the alignment. Notice the quote is almost $90 higher than the fair price below…

Year
Make
Model
Engine
Transmission
Mileage
2005
Toyota
Camry
4
Auto
30,000
Stated concern/problem:
Customer requests estimate for 30,000 mile service
30,000 Mile Service
Parts
Description
Net
Aftermarket
MSRP/OEM
1
Air Filter
17.05
1
Cabin Filter
32.40
1
Oil Filter
5.41
4
Qts. Motor Oil
2.78
11.12
Total Parts:
65.98
Labor
Description
2.0
30,000 mile service….see list of services performed…
Total Hours:
2
Labor Rate:
100.00
Total Labor Charge:
200.00
Misc
Description
Charge
1
Shop supplies
2.75
Total Miscellaneous Charges:
2.75
Flat Fees
Description
Charge
1
Performed 4-wheel alignment. Set vehicle to factory specifications, road tested, ok (specification sheet attached)
89.99
Total Flat Fees
89.99
Auto Repair Estimate Overview:
Total Labor:
200.00
Total Parts:
65.98
Miscellaneous:
2.75
Flat Fees:
89.99
Tax (5% default, parts only)
3.30
Grand Total:
$362.02

 

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