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Old 01-03-2012, 08:25 AM
Location: OKC
551 posts, read 1,724,492 times
Reputation: 416


...and they charged her $80 labor to replace 4 spark plugs & $150 labor to replace an air hose @ $100 an hour.

Is this typical? I could have replaced the spark plugs in a few minutes, and taped up the air hose. Or even replace the air hose myself--again in just a few minutes. Both are easy fixes even a mechanic helper could do blindfolded.

I am trying to get ahold of the service manager to find out why they charged so much. Am I just pissing in the wind here, or do I have a valid complaint?
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:30 AM
Location: Eastern NC
19,534 posts, read 17,784,286 times
Reputation: 17340
I would have been pissed at your step-daughter for not coming to you first. Let her learn a valuable lesson from this and start teaching her how to maintain her own car.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:31 AM
Location: Northern MN
3,869 posts, read 13,112,264 times
Reputation: 3569
Shop rates vary from around $75hr to $180hr and up at a dealer.

Some/most have a minimum rate, it could be a 1/2 hr rate or a hr rate

Last edited by snofarmer; 01-03-2012 at 09:07 AM..
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:53 AM
Location: Keosauqua, Iowa
9,181 posts, read 16,678,424 times
Reputation: 12341
Knowing the make & model would be helpful.

If the labor rate is $100 an hour, $80 for the plugs might be about right. Some of them are hard to get to, it depends on the model.

As to the air hose, if you're talking about an air intake hose, an hour and a half seems like a lot. But again, it depends on the model; I suppose some might run inside the fenderwell and require significanly disassembly to get to them.

Last edited by duster1979; 01-03-2012 at 08:53 AM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-03-2012, 09:02 AM
Location: Petticoat Junction
930 posts, read 1,641,893 times
Reputation: 1489
Agree with Duster, more details needed to make a determination. I can envision circumstances where it would take an hour to change plugs, etc but have to know more details first.
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Old 01-03-2012, 09:12 AM
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
26,610 posts, read 63,057,239 times
Reputation: 30751
I had a car that you hace to lift the engine off the mounts to change the spark plugs. I would be happy to pay $80 for that.

Another car you had to have a socket with an elbow, or rmeove the header to get to one of the spark plugs. Either way it was a PIA and time consuming.

I had a truck where you could change all 8 plugs in a few minutes. However another truck had the coil on plug configuration. It was a bit of a hassle to get the plugs out and a much bigger hassle to get the coils back in place properly.

Recently changed plugs and wires on our 2003 Ford ranger and it took several hours on two different days. I do not remember what all the issues were. W ran into a lot of problems for such a simple job. What I do remember: There was a problem getting the rear plug out ont he dirvers side. The socket simply woudl not grab it. We tried everything imaginable. Actually I thin we ended up taking it in to have that one plug changed. It took the mechanic half an hour to get it out. When we were changing the wires, we removed one wire at a time. However at one time, two of them popped off together. Even though we were very careful, we ended up reversing them. It took quite a while to figure out where the problem was and what was the correct order.

A lot of times, it is simply not worht the hassle to DIY. Half the time I do nto have the correct tools and have to go buy them. Sometimes I have to spend a bit of time searching for the right tool even if I have it. Also for small jobs you add in the tie that it takes to clean and put away your tools; or to set up your compressor if impact is needed, or to jack up and support the car, and it may make it not worth it. A shop does a dozen small jobs before they need to clean/put away their tools for the day, their compressor is built into the shop and is always set up and they do not have to jack up and support the car, just put it on the lift. Thus, while they can be expensive, DIY with back yard tools can take many times longer than it will tkae a mechanic with professional tools and it may not be worth it in the end.

Recently I did something that was quoted at $300 labor. I thought that was ridiculous. So I did it. It took me 15 hours. That is $20 per hour. I am not sure that giving up an entire weekend is worth $300. If th work goes well, it cna be a pleasant way to spend a weekend day,but if it goes badly, it can be miserable. About 50% of the tmie is seems tha tthings go badly (need special tools, broken bolts, frozen nuts/bolts, problem with air tools, turns really cold outside or it rains, etc etc.).

Last edited by Coldjensens; 01-03-2012 at 09:36 AM..
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Old 01-03-2012, 09:32 AM
Location: Minneapolis
1,617 posts, read 4,709,819 times
Reputation: 1207
It doesn't sound too bad. In addition to the recommended maintenance and hose replacement (which you could have taped, but... eh... ), they also correctly diagnosed the problem that brought her in in the first place, and got her back on the road quickly and reliably. That's gotta be worth something.

Also: Year, make, model, and engine, please.
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Old 01-03-2012, 09:45 AM
Location: OKC
551 posts, read 1,724,492 times
Reputation: 416
I want to thank everyone for the quick replies!

It is a 2002 Mazda Protoge. The shop did diagnose the problem--spark plugs needed replaced. The car was shutting off at idle. My first thought was vacuum hose. I never would have guessed spark plugs.

Whoever said I need to start teaching her about simple maintenace is correct--and I have started.

I just think I'm in the wrong profession. $150 labor to change an air hose. I'm just dumbfounded. There is no way that would take 1.5 hours. OH! Also, she gave approval for the repairs (without my knowledge) at 1:30, and the vehicle was finished at 2:15. That's .75 hours for it all. Now, I know they go by what the book says, but I still feel they took advantage of a young naive female.

2002 Protege though. Does the repair times charged sound about right?
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:02 AM
Location: Minneapolis
1,617 posts, read 4,709,819 times
Reputation: 1207
Hose sounds high, but it might have included diagnostics and a test drive. If it is cracked, it might not be easy to see, but that can easily cause the problem you described on this particular car.

The intake air flow is metered by a device inside the air cleaner housing called a Mass Airflow Sensor, before it flows through the hose into the throttle body. If the hose is cracked, it causes a false airflow reading, making it impossible for the ECU to inject the correct amount of fuel. That causes it not to idle or run correctly. There are a few things to rule out when those are the symptoms, like fuel pressure or a clogged EGR valve.

This car does have coil packs to remove before accessing the spark plugs, complicating the procedure slightly, but probably only adding a few minutes for an experienced tech. I don't think they were necessarily the fix--it was more likely the hose--but if it was time, it's fine that they were done.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:03 AM
Location: Hudson County, NJ
1,491 posts, read 2,685,376 times
Reputation: 1177
Mechanics and home repair fields always take advantage of anyone that seems naive. I think its always a very valuable lesson to have someone, friend or family, inform those that are less mechanically inclined about how things work.
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