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Old 10-12-2017, 01:37 PM
BeamerBro BeamerBro is offline
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Do you think mechanics charge so much these days because less people DIY?

Do you think less people DIY on cars these days and because of that you have silly prices for filter changes at 100+ dollars? 350 dollar spark plug changes and a ton of work that takes under an hour but is in the 100's of dollars.
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Old 10-12-2017, 02:00 PM
rbmwiv rbmwiv is offline
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A mechanic is going to charge you full list or even a little more on parts. Most of them do. And they always charge a flat rate book time. There’s several labor guides that give you the time for each job. I ran a BMW shop for 20 years. Had to quit due to health reasons. I know how everything works. Like all 4 rotors and pads gave a book time of 3 hours, but me and one of my guys could knock out all 4 in 30 minuets. Keep in mind we only work on BMW’s and have for years. So we have done that many times and are very proficient with BMW’s. Another reason things have gone up is inflation. It cost a lot to keep a shop running and even harder to turn a constant profit. I have had to charge $400 to remove and clean 1 bolt and terminal attached. I felt bad but I had around 10 hours in finding that. It was corrosion causing a 1/10 of a voltage drop to the dme not allowing the car to run. There’s been many times I have done that and know other shops who have done the same. Putting in more hours than we charged for just because the resolution was so simple but hard to come to.


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Old 10-12-2017, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by rbmwiv View Post
A mechanic is going to charge you full list or even a little more on parts. Most of them do. And they always charge a flat rate book time. There’s several labor guides that give you the time for each job. I ran a BMW shop for 20 years. Had to quit due to health reasons. I know how everything works. Like all 4 rotors and pads gave a book time of 3 hours, but me and one of my guys could knock out all 4 in 30 minuets. Keep in mind we only work on BMW’s and have for years. So we have done that many times and are very proficient with BMW’s. Another reason things have gone up is inflation. It cost a lot to keep a shop running and even harder to turn a constant profit. I have had to charge $400 to remove and clean 1 bolt and terminal attached. I felt bad but I had around 10 hours in finding that. It was corrosion causing a 1/10 of a voltage drop to the dme not allowing the car to run. There’s been many times I have done that and know other shops who have done the same. Putting in more hours than we charged for just because the resolution was so simple but hard to come to.


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10 hours of work for fixing something is a steal and no one here would ever spend 10 hours on my car and charge me 400 dollars. It would be at least 1000 I am sure. Do you charge a ton on the easy things to make up for the time it takes on the hard things. I notice prices get "cheaper" on the bigger jobs. Things do not seem to have much proportion to them. For example 750 for oil pan gasket with oil and parts. But then you have OFHG or DMTL pump coming in at 350+ around here. The DMTL pump is a 30 min job but clocks in at almost half the price of a 4-5 hour job.
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Old 10-12-2017, 02:40 PM
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If someone has skills that you don't have, but you need their service - then they get charge what the market will bear.

I only have very rudimentary wrenching skills - and most of the stuff on my car is way, way above what I understand. I can do maintenance and thats about it. I don't have the time or the inclination to learn much more than I do - so I'm happy to pay indys, dealers and insurance (warranty) companies to take care of it for me. I can use the time that I would have spent fixing it myself (if I had the skills) to use the skills I do have to keep generating my own income.

Back to the OP's original point. Yeah, most people no longer work on their own cars - back in the day they did. Cars have become very complex machines that are hard to understand. Now almost everything is computer controlled and not very intuitive at all without specialized tools and - more importantly - knowledge.

The next generation of cars (electric) will be even more complex, and disposable. If we even end up 'owning' them at all. It's going to end up as a hobby for the few - while the majority of people summon transport using apps on their phone to get them from A to B, or have a vehicle subscription plan - like the ones being tested right now.
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Old 10-12-2017, 02:43 PM
rbmwiv rbmwiv is offline
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We charged what time the book gave, and only increased it if the car was something that had broken bolts or other things preventing it from being done without fixing that issue. Like the brakes we could get a 3 hour job done in 30 minuets but we charged 3 hours labor. Generally maintenance you make good money because you’re doing repetitive things that you can get down to half of the book time. Pretty much any job speciality shops can do jobs in a fraction of the time. Like e9x 3.5 turbos when the turbos are bad we pulled the motor. I had wooden pallets made to go under the car that would support the engine trans and front suspension. We would drop them out of the bottom in 30 minuets, lift the car up replace the turbos then drop the car back on and bolt and hook everything back up and be done in time to test drive the car that afternoon. We charged $1500labor anywhere from $4500-$2500 total depending on if they wanted new or used turbos. The dealer charges $6k for that job only option for them are new. But I never “over charged” I always went by book times. That’s how most mechanics that work at a shop get paid. Each job pays $x and if it says 2 hours and it takes you 3 you just gave that hour for free. That’s the same policy I used if the job says 2 hours no matter how fast or long it takes I only charge the 2 unless the reason is another problem found while fixing that one then that’s another job on top of the original. I always cleared anything unforeseen with the customer before proceeding.


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Old 10-12-2017, 04:05 PM
ctuna ctuna is online now
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I think a lot of it is there is no more car guy generation.
When you grew up in the 50's through 70's it was so common
that you and your Dad would do some wrenching on your cars or
motorcycles. This is a much more limited set of people now.

The other part of it is the cost of living
every thing is more expensive and employers have to provide
many more perks .

Cost of a Hamburger Fry;s and a Shake in the 60's maybe a little over
Buck Cost now 10 Bucks. Blame the Federal Reserve and the Banks.

Electric Cars will be very disruptive for the Service portion of the Car Industry.

Last edited by ctuna; 10-12-2017 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 10-12-2017, 04:07 PM
rbmwiv rbmwiv is offline
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I think you hit the nail on the head.


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Old 10-12-2017, 04:31 PM
Davein Davein is offline
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Not necessarily. A large part of the cost is paying people, plus the payroll taxes and benefit costs. Then you have the cost of specialty tools and diagnostic equipment, not to mention the cost of owning or leasing a building, the cost of maintaining parts inventories, advertising, giving people "free" estimates, etc.

There is a lot of overhead cost in running a business, and you have to recoup it on parts sales and labor.
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Old 10-12-2017, 05:40 PM
BeamerBro BeamerBro is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctuna View Post
I think a lot of it is there is no more car guy generation.
When you grew up in the 50's through 70's it was so common
that you and your Dad would do some wrenching on your cars or
motorcycles. This is a much more limited set of people now.

The other part of it is the cost of living
every thing is more expensive and employers have to provide
many more perks .

Cost of a Hamburger Fry;s and a Shake in the 60's maybe a little over
Buck Cost now 10 Bucks. Blame the Federal Reserve and the Banks.

Electric Cars will be very disruptive for the Service portion of the Car Industry.
I think it is mostly there is no more car generation as well. I don't think mechanics would get away with charging these prices if 80% of people still fixed their own cars. I hardly know anyone that does their own repairs anymore.
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Old 10-12-2017, 07:28 PM
ctuna ctuna is online now
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As pointed out the overhead is huge to own a shop employ people
and the cars are much more complicated than they use to be though
some of the electronics actually do point you in the right direction.
Blue Collar work even skilled blue collar work is not considered a good
career or one that can support a family or much of a lifestyle.
Add all the other distractions of the modern world like computers and
the Internet and its no wonder good mechanics are hard to find.
Even my Indy is charging a lot for labor. Its not like a mechanic is the
only one charging high prices its every damm thing.
The the thing is if you get a bad one or its a real difficult problem your
pocket book gets emptied without you getting the problem you came
in for actually fixed.

Last edited by ctuna; 10-12-2017 at 07:30 PM.
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Old 10-12-2017, 07:29 PM
wilt wilt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctuna View Post
I think a lot of it is there is no more car guy generation.
When you grew up in the 50's through 70's it was so common
that you and your Dad would do some wrenching on your cars or
motorcycles. This is a much more limited set of people now..
Engines 50 years ago were so much more SIMPLE things! Now, with exhaust emissions control valves and sensors, fancy variable angle shafts and sensors, Condition Based Service sensors, and all if it packed into tight spaces under the hood that necessitate removing several things simply to GET TO the part that really needs replacement, I won't even consider tackling something that I would not have hesitated to do myself in the 20th century.!
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Old 10-12-2017, 07:34 PM
ctuna ctuna is online now
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I will still do the small stuff if it makes sense .
The biggest problem I have with doing it is I don't have a lift.
I have a floor jack and some stands but I don't like working
on by back under a car.
I agree the amount of stuff you have to get out of the way just
to do something simple like replace a water pump or gasket
is frustrating. And that is part of the reason for the high labor costs
The computer stuff doesn't scare me much though I could see
how it might send you into some kind of infinite loop.

Last edited by ctuna; 10-12-2017 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 10-12-2017, 09:25 PM
BeamerBro BeamerBro is offline
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Originally Posted by wilt View Post
Engines 50 years ago were so much more SIMPLE things! Now, with exhaust emissions control valves and sensors, fancy variable angle shafts and sensors, Condition Based Service sensors, and all if it packed into tight spaces under the hood that necessitate removing several things simply to GET TO the part that really needs replacement, I won't even consider tackling something that I would not have hesitated to do myself in the 20th century.!
But a laptop and cable will tell you exactly what is wrong for the most part. From my understanding the software at the dealer will read the codes then give the tech a flow chart to follow to fix the problem. I use INPA which half of it is in german and I have to say having the software makes finding most problems fairly easy. I can't imagine what it is like to have more user friendly software in English.
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Old 10-12-2017, 09:32 PM
ctuna ctuna is online now
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ista is in English also the coding board at e90post has an all English
Inpa project in the works.

Last edited by ctuna; 10-12-2017 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 10-12-2017, 10:05 PM
wilt wilt is offline
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But a laptop and cable will tell you exactly what is wrong for the most part. From my understanding the software at the dealer will read the codes then give the tech a flow chart to follow to fix the problem. I use INPA which half of it is in german and I have to say having the software makes finding most problems fairly easy. I can't imagine what it is like to have more user friendly software in English.
I wonder...in many cases you have a 'pointer' to a subsystem, but then you have to diagnose the SPECIFIC thing which is not operating properly! For example, when the charging system is not charging, is it the alternator, the voltage regulator, or the IBS???

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Old 10-13-2017, 06:06 AM
ramblinman ramblinman is offline
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You are playing for a lot more than just mechanic salary. The overhead in running a repair shop with lifts, and in the case of BMW, a $20,000 diagnostic and repair tool, the mechanics tool sets, building lease or ownership costs and the cost of management, other overhead and profit is extremely high and getting higher. If you want OEM parts, the costs are much higher because BMW has inflated its parts costs to capture profits from people who don't lease their cars or trade them in every few years. In some repairs, like changing the AT fluid, BMW sealed the filter into the fluid pan. That reduces their costs of manufacturing but forces you to buy a new pan, every time you change the fluid, which drives up that repair costs. On the other hand, engines are much more reliable than they used to be. So there is much less maintenance now. Routinely, you are only changing filters and fluids, and spark plugs every 40k miles for a turbo and 100k for non aspirated. But when something does break, it's much more expensive to repair. BMW has trouble with basic systems that should never need repairs, like the oil filter housing gasket or the carbon build up on the intake valves and ports on the N54 motor. But you are not changing and setting points in a mechanical distributor, or adjusting valves. Overall, the costs of repairs are about the same across brands for the identical repair. But BMW just breaks more often than it should. And the flat rate manual is a ripoff, but it's a ripoff for all brands.
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Old 10-13-2017, 07:10 AM
Kangar00 Kangar00 is offline
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I think that people don't want to do the work. As crazy as it sounds, most people would like to have work done for them. Where it get's absurd is when people are willing to pay to not do work, that could be defined as easy or simple to do. As long as you have people willing to pay those amounts, shops that charge that much and more will be in business.

On the flip side and as former professional mechanic, it is my opinion that a lot of mechanics are underpaid. Time and time again I hear people complaining about the prices mechanics or shops charge. I often think to myself that if they charged what people think they should be charging, shops woudn't be in business.
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Old 10-13-2017, 07:20 AM
wilt wilt is offline
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Originally Posted by ramblinman View Post
In some repairs, like changing the AT fluid, BMW sealed the filter into the fluid pan. That reduces their costs of manufacturing but forces you to buy a new pan, every time you change the fluid, which drives up that repair costs.
ZF 'sealed the filter into the fluid pan', not BMW. On the 328i with GM tranny the filter is a replaceable element!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramblinman View Post
On the other hand, engines are much more reliable than they used to be. So there is much less maintenance now. Routinely, you are only changing filters and fluids, and spark plugs every 40k miles for a turbo and 100k for non aspirated.
For pre-LCI cars, 60k for turbo and 100k for non-turbo
For LCI cars, 45k for turbo and 60k for non-turbo

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramblinman View Post
But when something does break, it's much more expensive to repair. BMW has trouble with basic systems that should never need repairs, like the oil filter housing gasket or the carbon build up on the intake valves and ports on the N54 motor.
Certainly the carbon is more problematic on the N54, but the fundamental issue is caused by direct injection rather than into the intake port.

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Old 10-13-2017, 09:32 AM
BeamerBro BeamerBro is offline
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Originally Posted by wilt View Post
I wonder...in many cases you have a 'pointer' to a subsystem, but then you have to diagnose the SPECIFIC thing which is not operating properly! For example, when the charging system is not charging, is it the alternator, the voltage regulator, or the IBS???
The computer will actually tell you that. It has different codes for those. Not saying its 100% but its accurate enough but I know with my DMTL pump it has just a code for the pump and then it has a separate code for a leak. I think it even has different codes for the size of the leak but I might be wrong on that. I can tell you INPA saved me a **** ton of time. When my ABS started messing up it told me it was a speed sensor and on what wheel.
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Old 10-13-2017, 12:54 PM
BeamerBro BeamerBro is offline
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Originally Posted by ramblinman View Post
You are playing for a lot more than just mechanic salary. The overhead in running a repair shop with lifts, and in the case of BMW, a $20,000 diagnostic and repair tool, the mechanics tool sets, building lease or ownership costs and the cost of management, other overhead and profit is extremely high and getting higher. If you want OEM parts, the costs are much higher because BMW has inflated its parts costs to capture profits from people who don't lease their cars or trade them in every few years. In some repairs, like changing the AT fluid, BMW sealed the filter into the fluid pan. That reduces their costs of manufacturing but forces you to buy a new pan, every time you change the fluid, which drives up that repair costs. On the other hand, engines are much more reliable than they used to be. So there is much less maintenance now. Routinely, you are only changing filters and fluids, and spark plugs every 40k miles for a turbo and 100k for non aspirated. But when something does break, it's much more expensive to repair. BMW has trouble with basic systems that should never need repairs, like the oil filter housing gasket or the carbon build up on the intake valves and ports on the N54 motor. But you are not changing and setting points in a mechanical distributor, or adjusting valves. Overall, the costs of repairs are about the same across brands for the identical repair. But BMW just breaks more often than it should. And the flat rate manual is a ripoff, but it's a ripoff for all brands.
Yeah I dunno I really don't feel bad for the owners of these shops. The last one I spoke to owned 300k in various BMWS.
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Old 10-13-2017, 12:59 PM
Kadavep Kadavep is offline
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I have a 07 328i and this mechanic had the nerve to try and charge me 180$ for putting in an oil filter & a surpertine belt . I said" here's 80$ jumped in my car yelled kiss my A$$ / sped off
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Old 10-13-2017, 01:01 PM
BeamerBro BeamerBro is offline
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I have a 07 328i and this mechanic had the nerve to try and charge me 180$ for putting in an oil filter & a surpertine belt . I said" here's 80$ jumped in my car yelled kiss my A$$ / sped off
lol they did it without telling you? Sounds like some of the runs around here. Tons of people assume you are leasing or have a 3rd party warranty and nothing is coming out of pocket..
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Old 10-13-2017, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by rbmwiv View Post
We charged what time the book gave, and only increased it if the car was something that had broken bolts or other things preventing it from being done without fixing that issue. Like the brakes we could get a 3 hour job done in 30 minuets but we charged 3 hours labor.
These are the mechanics who give the other ones a bad name: "We charge book rate even though we can do it in 1/6th the time. If it takes us more than book time, we go to actual hours." Effectively, the shop gets all the gain on underruns and the client gets all the pain on 'unforseen conditions'.


I won't use a "book rate" shop, and I make the same recommendation to family and friends. FWIW, my indy mechanic (for going on 25 years now) will give me a quote based on book rate, but he'll only charge what he uses. If he underruns, I don't get overcharged, and he'll work on someone else's car. If it overruns, I cover the extra time.
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Old 10-13-2017, 02:14 PM
BeamerBro BeamerBro is offline
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Originally Posted by Zooks527 View Post
These are the mechanics who give the other ones a bad name: "We charge book rate even though we can do it in 1/6th the time. If it takes us more than book time, we go to actual hours." Effectively, the shop gets all the gain on underruns and the client gets all the pain on 'unforseen conditions'.


I won't use a "book rate" shop, and I make the same recommendation to family and friends. FWIW, my indy mechanic (for going on 25 years now) will give me a quote based on book rate, but he'll only charge what he uses. If he underruns, I don't get overcharged, and he'll work on someone else's car. If it overruns, I cover the extra time.
One of my friends had a super bad experience with what you are talking about. They gave him book rate but then they broke a bolt and they went back and asked for 600 dollars more AFTER they had started the work. They gave him the choice of paying 600 dollars more and getting it back fixed, paying 1000 dollars and that was book time before the broken bolt then have it towed home broken. He had no choice but pay the money to get it 100% fixed.
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Old 10-13-2017, 06:24 PM
ZGator ZGator is offline
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Odds are getting stacked against DIY as software control dominates the car architecture - the future is a battle between diagnostic software access for the DIYer vs the OEMs.

I have saved thousands on my current 328xi doing DIY but I put in a LOT OF HOURS of research, testing, software diagnostics, etc.. I am currently winning the battle but I am weary of the future - so much so it will/has effect past/future purchases.

To the original question I would say people who are willing to DIY might have fallen the way of people who still wax their cars..

Last edited by ZGator; 10-13-2017 at 06:29 PM.
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