Know When To Dispute Your Auto Repair Bill To Avoid Needless Charges

Know When To Dispute Your Auto Repair Bill To Avoid Needless Charges

Getting your car fixed at a mechanic is a stressful experience, but it doesn’t always have to be an expensive one. Keeping an eye on your bill and making sure to speak up when there’s an error can mean the difference between balancing the budget and going broke.

Photo by Ernesto Andrade.

Over at Get Rich Slowly, April Dykman and Roger White share a story about a car repair gone horribly wrong: a simple broken rear brake light, which ended with a bill that was 25% over the original estimate. When confronted with the overage, the shop manager shrugged his shoulders and reversed the charges. A shyer customer would have just paid the bill and moved on.

Admittedly, it’s not a trick that always works – more often you’ll probably get a long lecture from the mechanic about pricing and labour costs. In these cases, the most you’ll get is information to use if the mechanic contradicts himself on your next visit. It’s also worth asking the mechanic what the hourly rate is, so you can be aware of how much money is floating out of your wallet while you wait for your repair.

In the worst case scenario, you can always ask for your old parts back if you think the mechanic is “repairing” things that aren’t broken – after all, they’re your parts, and you can take them elsewhere to find out if they really needed to be replaced. What are some of your tips to avoid being fleeced at the mechanic? Do you just do the work yourself? Share your tips in the comments.

How to Dispute Your Mechanic Bill [Get Rich Slowly]


  • I do whatever work myself and use anything but genuine parts. In 15 years of running buses for business, I have never had a non genuine part fail. Had to replace front discs recently and got genuine price of $550 per disc. Non genuine price – $92 per disc – Delivered!! Money saved is money earnt!!

  • I’m a mechanic by trade (before moving into IT)…was with an Audi and Porsche workshop, and there was nothing more frustrating than a client coming in and disputing every single item on the invoice. You’d rebuild an entire engine and have them complain that you used new oil, and not the 5000km old oil they “just had put in it”. I recently replaced the front diff of my own Audi, and had to buy genuine parts because they simply dont make non-genuine…so dont jump up and down at that either. If you own a newish or uncommon car, non-genuine wont always be an option, and sometimes that means the cost will blow out unexpectedly; but the mechanic should alert you of this at the time of repair, not payment.

    Like all industries, there are some real dodgies out there, but understand that if your car is so important and you cant live without it, that you’ll eventually have to spend some time and money keeping it going. I find it the same in IT now; computers are so important to people but they will whine and complain when they cost them even the slightest of money to keep working perfectly.

    My biggest recommendation is to find a good mechanic that friends and family use, or join a car club or at least online club/forum. That one tip has saved me thousands!

  • I am a hundred percent sick of mechanics lately. I have a BMW 328i 1996 and yesturday it cost me over $1000 to get a service, a pully and two belts changed (the fan belt and the Drive belt) Apparently it took 4 hours labour to replace the belts and Pulley (which are all located at the front of the engine, for those who dont no) and the labour was $109 an hour. Total rip off.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!