Chosen as the BEST independent auto repair facility in the United States by Robert Bosch of Germany!         Chosen as the Auto Repair (non-Dealership) in Ann Arbor & Washtenaw county!

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Labor Charges

How much is an auto repair job worth? If the repair lasts, eg. your car starts, stops and doesn't catch on fire, then the cheaper the better. Is there a bell curve out there, where there is a real cheap and crappy shop, a whole bunch of average (no fire but your car may not start) shops who charge more than the crappy shop. And then a really good shop who charges more than anybody?

At P.A.T. we repair vehicles properly and professionally. period. We charge what it takes to hire intelligent auto technicians, keep them employed here (average length of service for our techs is 18 years), provide them health insurance, and a nice place to work.

For 32 years we have heard the comment "P.A.T. is the best shop in Ann Arbor, but they are expensive." Keep in mind, we charge what it takes to repair your car Properly and Professionally.

How much will I have to pay?

Labor charges consist of

  1. a dollar per hour amount

  2. Multiplied by :

  3. a time unit amount.

As you can see one shop's dollar per hour amount could be 1/2 that of another shops's, the first shop just has to charge twice the time for the job!

There are numerous ways for a poor quality shop to compete on price, a favorite is the Ala Carte repair. Consumers still think they need a Tune-Up, to a quality shop 'Tune-Up' is a procedure to restore the running of a vehicle to it's proper state, which will include checking and replacing spark plugs, checking the plug wires/coils, and a number of other things. An estimate from the quality shop will include all these items. Other shops will give you a 'Tune-up' estimate of replacing spark plugs, with all the other items sold to you when the vehicle is in their shop. The estimates are way diffferent, but the final cost is the same.

One of the reasons auto repair has become expensive is the computerization of vehicles. Every system of your car is now computer controlled, mechanical systems such as brakes are now monitored by a computer system, ABS (Antilock Brake System) every shop that works on any automotive system needs to have computers and computer software to access that car's components.

The business costs for a particular industry, e.g. auto repair, are pretty much the same for all of that type of business in an area. Business costs determine the dollar per hour amount for auto repair.

All repair shops and dealerships use a repair time manual as a guide to quote vehicle repairs. There are many companies which produce repair time manuals, some accurate, and some not so accurate. P.A.T. subscribes to the most accurate repair time manual available, Mitchell 1. P.A.T. also precisely measures, to the 0.01 of an hour, the amount of time spent on each repair to calculate the charge for diagnostic work and for the "unquotable" repairs. P.A.T. also maintains it's own computer database of repair and quote information which includes labor and parts information.

For any repair charge, beyond the time factor, the factors which impact how much you will pay for a repair are:

  1. The "genetics" of the vehicle, the make, model, and year.
  2. The age of the vehicle.
  3. The number of miles the vehicle has been driven.
  4. How well the vehicle has been maintained.
  5. Which repair shops have done the maintenance and repairs on the vehicle.
  6. The cost of equipment needed for the repair.

Keep in mind that an Estimate is just that, and can be hundreds of dollars off, a Quote is an offer to do a job for an agreeded upon amount.

It is obvious that to be able to provide you with a real world quote, a professional must first see your vehicle.

P.A.T. is more than happy to provide our customers with guidance on the planning of when certain maintenance or repairs need to be performed, with an eye towards both maximizing safety and minimizing cost.

Comparing Labor Costs Between Shops

Differences in the cost of a particular repair between shops is really a difference in the thoroughness of the repair, the amount of time spent, and the experience of the mechanic/technician. Any repair can be made cheaper by:

  1. Not performing all the necessary steps (e.g., not checking the transmission fluid during an oil change).
  2. Spending less time on the repair (remember, haste makes waste).
  3. Using unskilled mechanics.

The most important factor in getting repair work done correctly and professionally is how the mechanic is paid. Most auto mechanics are paid a commission on the amount of work they do, which often leads to over-selling their workmanship, and under-doing their work (to do the job quicker). A repair shop that pays its mechanics by commission (also called flat-rate) facilitates unprofessional work. P.A.T. has always paid its technicians by salary, eliminating the possibility of defrauding or cheating you, the customer.

The Difference between Quality and "Well, that jobs done."

It is always comforting to find that Doctor, Lawyer, Auto Mechanic, Plumber or Husband who gets the job done correctly and with confidence.
There are a number of things that impact and nurture