Parts & Labor Estimating Guides

by Timothy Lemke

An unpleasant aspect of owning a car, automobile maintenance can be an unexpected and costly expense. Understanding the potential repair costs prior to taking your car in for service can help alleviate the stress associated with unexpected auto repair. Estimating the cost of parts and labor requires understanding the charges associated with having your car serviced. Estimating what a repair should cost will help prevent becoming the victim of price gouging by dishonest repair shops.

Auto Parts

The type of parts used in the repair of your automobile can effect the total cost incurred for service. Dealers generally use Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts that come directly from the manufacturer when servicing an automobile. Cheaper than aftermarket car parts that vary in quality, OEM parts will adequately meet your car's needs without the cost of more expensive brand name aftermarket parts. Used parts from salvage yards cost the least, however the condition of these parts cannot be guaranteed. All new car parts have a Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) that can be researched online prior to agreeing to any repairs. Comparing what a repair shop proposes to charge you for a part verses that part's MSRP will indicate what kind of deal your are getting.


Billed in tenths, 1.5 hours of labor equates to one and a half hours of service time. Labor rates can range from $60 to $100 an hour at an independent repair shop to $80 to $100 an hour at a dealership. Reputable shops should be able to tell you in advance what they charge per-hour for labor and the time required to complete a job prior to you agreeing on any service. When you receive your service bill, multiple the number of labors hours charged by the agreed upon hourly rate to determine if the amount charged accurately reflects the labor done.

Miscellaneous Charges

Separate from parts and labor, miscellaneous charges reflect any additional costs associated with your car's repair. Supplies used, chemicals needed, hazardous waste handled, disposal fees, proper treatment of waste oil and applied shop fees all accumulate under miscellaneous charges on your final bill. Hard to calculate prior to receiving your final bill, miscellaneous charges should be a small portion of the final total, and easily explain in detail by reputable shops when questioned.

Flat Fees

Fees associated with repairs but billed separately from parts and labor, flat fees can make it difficult to estimate the total cost of repair. Oil changes, wheel alignments, and tire balancing are examples of services that carry flat fees which could be added to your bill if done during your car's repairs. Determining in advance what services will be performed on your car, or making clear your desire to only have specifics repairs done, will give an you ability to estimate flats fees into the final repair cost.

About the Author

Timothy Lemke has worked as a freelance writer since 2009 and has been published with such websites as Ask The College Guy. Lemke graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and possesses a Bachelor of Arts in European history.