Most people know the online auto repair manual can be used for Diy repairs. Fewer know the same reference guide can supply real factory repair bulletins and recalls. However, very few know it's also a way to find out exactly what a car repair should cost at a service center.
Master Tech Mark here to show you how it all works. When you understand where the prices come from and how they are determined you are better able to negotiate with the shop and protect yourself against overcharges.
Two of the most popular online car manuals include an estimating button to make this task simple. I want to talk about the standard guides your shop should be using. The automotive industry has standardized pricing guidelines for parts and labor charges. In some states it’s the law to use them.
The popular guides are Chilton’s, Mitchell 1 and ALLDATAdiy. You can arm yourself with the same tools the shop uses for price estimating. There are no completely free online auto repair manual labor guides that I know of. At Alldata.com you can get a subscription to your specific car for about $26.95 for a year or 44.95 for five years.
It includes all the factory automobile repair manual information, TSBs, part numbers, prices and labor times to do just about any particular job. I use it myself for my personal vehicle and also at work. I have found it to be an invaluable source of information. The TSB section stands for Technical Service Bulletins.
These are published by the vehicle manufacturer and identify common problems found by the manufacture during the warranty period of the vehicle. They often point directly to your own car problems. I know it may seem overkill to spend money on another online auto repair manual at this point and you don't have to.
You can still protect yourself by asking questions and being proactive about the auto repair process. I just wanted to make you aware that there is a do-it-yourself online auto repair manual service that provides complete vehicle specific pricing information for individual car repairs.
This can pay for itself on your first shop visit if you dig in and learn how to use the research features available. You will most often recover the cost on the first at home repair if you decide you are ready to be a driveway mechanic.
Some people enjoy taking things to the next level. They fill their garage with the best equipment and use all the tools available to them. The subscription pricing enables you to freely access all of the information for a single vehicle.
This is based upon the Year, Make, Model and Engine configuration. Please note, it is very important that you use care while selecting the engine type. It can't be easily changed later so make sure you select the right one the first time.
In most cases the engine size is displayed on the valve cover or air cleaner but you can also find it on the registration card, owners manual or under hood label. Double check to ensure that you are aware of the correct engine identification before making your selection.
Lets move on to a common curve ball as related to automotive service labor. What happens when the repair is not so straightforward and we do not know what is wrong with the vehicle?
Now we have to pay for diagnosis, which has no set labor time or standard pricing In the event of the need for exploratory surgery, the phrase time and material comes in.
Let's draw a hypothetical situation to illustrate what time and material means. You are in a repair shop for an intermittent car problem. It seems as if your car does what it wants when it wants to. You step on the gas and the car shakes then stalls. Then sometimes it runs like a champ.
The auto technician is confused he can't go right to the problem because it is intermittent. You ask how much it will cost to fix it? He says I can't give you an exact price. This one is going to be charged on a time and material basis. The car mechanic will now begin a diagnostic quest in an effort to locate and isolate the your automobiles problem.
The time will be logged and you will be charged the shop labor rate per hour, as well as the cost of any needed materials, until the problem is found (or until you tell them to stop). The number one way to protect yourself in this situation is to only approve 1 hour of diagnosis at a time. This puts you in control of the time and money.
After each hour of labor passes, demand a full report of what results were found. Before approving the next hour of diagnosis find out what they plan to do in the next hour and if they are getting close to finding an answer to the problem.
Also ask if they're using the factory service manual diagnostic section properly. They'll love that one, but it may put them back on the proper track.
Make sure the shop understands you don't write blank checks and you have limited funds to spend on diagnosis. I have seen customer’s use this approach so well that the shop gets tired of asking for more money every hour. Shops can kick in some free diagnosis to get to the bottom of the customer complaint.
Another reason the shop will kick in this free labor is, because they know this mechanic has not been faced with this complaint before and is actually learning new diagnostic skills in the process of working on your vehicle.
diagnostic time starts piling up make it clear to the shop that you are
not interested in paying for a technicians training. Bookmark or share this page with a friend.
See Mark Gittelman's Awards & ASE Certifications on Google+.
Protect your vehicles and your wallet against over priced auto repairs. You now have the power to confirm parts and labor pricing using the latest web based technology with All-Data online auto repair manuals.
Note at the time of this writing that you can change your vehicle to a different model once during your subscription period. Also subscriptions to additional vehicles are deeply discounted after registering the first one.
My about All-Data page includes a new homemade auto repair video that
shows you how to use and find the demo. This next link takes you to the
main page about car service manuals.
All-Data has recently upgraded its web based program. See my latest video that shows you how use the new interface and highlights the improvements for my favorite brand of online repair information.
Find out more about me and why I built this automobile website on the homepage that answers car questions.