How Much Is a Fair Price For Auto Mechanic Labor Rate?

I have more of a general question for you. There is a LARGE difference in labor prices in the mechanic’s field, my certified Mitsubishi mechanics make $90 an hour compared to my parents mechanic who charges $50 an hour. What is a good rate of pay for someone in the mechanics field, i am just curious because my new mechanic is charging $65 an hour and i don’t know if he is worth that?

thanks! John

Hi there John

Great question. In Houston we can expect to pay $95+ for a qualified dealer or related mechanic higher experienced mechanic (drivability issues, A/C, electrical etc.) and about $65 for a general service type of mechanic at some local mom and pop repair shop. $65 these days is pretty cheap if they are any good and trustworthy.

What I really am more interested in knowing is how do they calculate their repair time. I mean, if I need to get my water pump replaced, how many hours are they going to bill me and by what metric.

“Book time” is what is commonly used, and there is an actual published labor time manual that tells us how much time on average a mechanic will spend to perform a repair. So most shops would refer to this manual and then quote that time needed by their shop hourly rate. Now, to be fair, there are a few book labor rates that I am aware of so there could be small discrepancies in actual time listed by each book source.

Actual Time is just that. The shop bills a customer by the actual amount of time the mechanic took to do the repair. This can get tricky, because how do you know the mechanic did not just goof off, or did not understand the repair or had no prior knowledge of the repair and he learned at YOUR expense. I still hear of this labor practice being used on customers “lady, I only charged you the actual time I spend on the job, nothing else” well yes….but it took you 4 hours and the book called for only 2.

In either case above, you also have to allow for hidden repairs causing additional labor times to correct. Example would be you need to replace the water pump, but a bolt broke off during removal and required more parts to be removed to gain access for a drill to repair the broken bolt. There really is no “book” for those types of repairs, since they are rare but do happen and can take a LOT of additional time to resolve.

Since some “dishonest” mechanics know that they can charge more for items that are NOT listed in the labor book manual (broken bolts, burnt wires, rusted parts) they can use that to their favor to bill you more than needed…but not look like they scammed you.

Posted in: Tune Up Costs

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