Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Mechanic ripping me off on parts?

Is my mechanic ripping me off on parts prices

You found the parts much cheaper online. So what?

If you’re comparing the price of auto parts online to the retail price from your local shop and concluding “my mechanic is ripping me off,” well, you have no idea how a business works.

Shops don’t buy parts online

When a shop needs a part, they pick up the phone and call a local parts supplier. The parts supplier sends the part over quickly so the shop can repair your car and get it out of the repair bay. The local auto parts supplier charges the shop FAR more than you can buy that same part online. That’s no different than shopping for just about anything these days—online is almost always cheaper than buying the same item from a brick and mortar store.

The shop can’t afford to tie up a repair bay waiting for an online part to arrive

Can you imaging how much a shop would have to charge if they had to let your car sit in the bay for three days while waiting for the part to arrive? Get real. No shop is going to do that.

You haven’t factored in the shipping charge from the online seller

Yeah, whoops. Brake rotors, struts, starter motors—they’re all heavy. They all have shipping charges. And, if there’s a core charge, you have to figure in the cost of return shipping.

Shops MUST make a profit on parts

A high volume shop gets a MAXIMUM of 25% off the manufacturer’s list price on parts. No shop can survive on a 25% discount. So they often double their cost to make a reasonable profit. Think that’s too high? Think again. See this post to see what kinds of markups other retail business charge.

No, you can’t bring your own parts to the shop and save money

Thinking about buying auto parts online so you can save on the shop’s markup? If you bring parts to your mechanic, you’re literally asking the shop to earn less. Why would they do that—trust me, you’re not that good looking.

Bringing your own parts to a repair shop and offering to pay for just the labor to install is like bringing your own ham and eggs to a restaurant and offering to pay for just the labor to cook them. Try that at any restaurant and let me know how that works for you. They’d laugh you out the door—or throw you out the door. Same with a shop.

Shops make money on parts and labor

EVERY service business makes money on parts and labor. Think about it: plumbers, electricians, furnace repair, AC repair, carpenters, masons—they all make a profit on the parts and raw materials as well as their labor. Do you check out the online price of a toilet and then accuse the plumber of ripping you off?

Get over yourself

If you think a shop takes too big a markup on their parts, find a different shop. But don’t insist that your “mechanic is ripping me off” simply because they make a profit on parts and labor. It’s the way every business works. You don’t work for free. Neither do they.

©, 2018 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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