Why Auto Repair Shops Charge Diagnostic Fees
Diagnostic time expenses are an equally unwanted expense for both the consumer and the repair shop.
For the consumer, they are often buying the unseen and untouchable. They spend a few hundred dollars to find out exactly what is wrong with their car but don’t get to see it, touch it, hear it or anything. Then they still have to pay for whatever repair is recommended once diagnosed properly.
On the flip side, if the proper diagnostic time is not spent and you just take an educated guess of what is wrong based off the most common things found on Google, YouTube, parts store and such sources, you run the likely chance of replacing an expensive part that does not fix the problem. With the rising parts costs, it is no longer a good financial decision to skip the proper diagnostic testing and replace the most common part. Back when you could get the most common parts for less than $100.00, it made sense to save some time and go straight to replacing the most likely part rather than performing extensive tests to determine what part was bad. Now the costs of parts are so high, it is not worth the risk of guessing wrong. The other thing to keep in mind as a consumer is there are often times more than one issue with a vehicle. A big part of the diagnostic process is to first determine what failed and then to determine what caused it to fail. That way you don’t just simply replace a failed component without fixing a potential problem that will cause a repeat failure.
For the repair shop, diagnostic testing is by far the least profitable job done in a shop. Extensive diagnostic testing oftentimes requires your most experienced (usually highest paid) technician and can require your most expensive equipment. The average scan tool in our shop is over $10,000 and requires yearly updates of over $1,000.00. The other reason why diagnostic testing is less profitable for the repair shop is due to the lack of parts sales. Auto repair shops only have two things to sell, labor and parts. If they spend two hours replacing the brakes on your car, they will receive two hours of labor plus the fair mark-up on the parts installed. It the auto repair shop spends two hours diagnosing a technical problem on your vehicle, they only receive two hours of diagnostic labor and no income from parts sales.
For the consumer, spending a little money on proper diagnostic testing by the auto repair shop and technician you trust is a smart investment.
For the auto repair shop, charging a fair amount to cover your hardworking technicians’ time plus your investment in equipment is a must.