Understanding the Difference Between Parts and Labor Costs

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Understanding the Difference Between Parts and Labor Costs
By: Luke Shaff ~ 4/6/2017

When you're reviewing your auto repair bill, it can be a little confusing.  Why does the final price sometimes not match the estimate? Why are repairs with cheap parts still so expensive?  This short guide will help you understand your automotive repair bill and the difference between parts and labor costs. You'll be able to make informed choices and ensure you're getting good quality work for the price you pay.

Understanding Parts Costs

Parts costs are the most straightforward, understandable, and universally priced items on your bill.  These costs fluctuate based on choices you make as the vehicle owner.  What kinds of parts do you want?  The cheapest, most readily available?  Or the part closest to the factory design?  For example, when you get new brake pads, you can choose ceramic pads for higher heat tolerance and quieter function, but metallic pads will cost less.  Different pricing also occurs with Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) versus aftermarket parts.  How much value do you place on manufacturer reputation?  You can work very closely with your mechanic, and almost every automotive maintenance procedure has these variable part prices depending on what you want.

Understanding Labor Costs

Labor costs are harder to understand and vary more greatly from shop to shop.  This cost is calculated by multiplying how many hours it takes a shop's auto technicians to complete a job by their hourly rate.  A shop's hourly rate can also vary: most will have a regional average price, with some shops going cheaper to beat the competition, and some shops charging more for specialty knowledge.  An obscure BMW repair, for example, might be billed at a regular shop at $85 an hour, but be billed by a BMW specialist at $105 an hour.  But for that extra twenty dollars an hour, you get the assurance of their special technical expertise.  Some automotive repair procedures are simply very time consuming, and that drives up price.  The motor for your power windows might be cheap, for example, but the hassle of removing the door panels adds up to considerably more than parts costs in labor costs.  If you feel like labor costs are too high, call around and ask what the average completion time for certain repairs is.  Then you can confront the shop owner with an informed perspective on your bill.

With honest shops, like Redmond's famous Luke's Automotive, you never have to guess if labor costs are too high, and one of their friendly staff will always be happy to explain your bill to you, item by item, both parts and labor costs.

Schedule an appointment, or call 425-885-4333.