A Dash of Curry Blog

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Why Does It Cost So Much to Get My Car Fixed?

Here’s a video that I think everyone can appreciate. I demystify the process behind pricing out an auto repair. After this video you will better understand what you’re paying for and hopefully appreciate what you’re getting in return.

As the owner of ten auto repair shops, I am often asked, “Why is it so expensive to get my car fixed?” Well, it’s expensive to get your car fixed for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s very technical work; cars are very sophisticated pieces of equipment. There can be up to 50 different processors or computers in any given vehicle, and today nearly everything is electronically operated and computer controlled. So our technicians have to be absolute automotive gurus: they have to be electronics experts, they have to be computer programmers, and they have to be mechanically talented. So today’s auto repair workers are no longer simply mechanics, but full-on technicians who are required to pick up many different skill sets. I realized a while back (I’ve been in the industry for 32 years now) that you had to be smart to be an auto technician, so that’s why I went to the management side of the business. A good auto repair technician is worth his or her weight in gold. They have to be proficient with a wide variety of tools and electronic platforms to diagnose and fix your vehicle.When we get a car with a check engine light, we interface it with our computers to pull the trouble codes. Trouble codes only tell us one part of the story because it doesn’t necessarily mean that only one part is bad. The computer consists of multiple devices: the input device, the processing device, and the output device. The input devices draw up certain measurements which are sent to the processor and then to the output device. So this whole process needs to be analyzed – if you have an air sensor code, it doesn’t mean you need a new mass airflow sensor. It could maybe mean that you have a vaccuum leak that is causing that code and it’s a very minor repair. If we pull an oxygen sensor code, most cars have 2-4 oxygen sensors so we need to find out which sensor is in trouble and why it’s acting up. It could be that the car is running too rich or too lean, causing the oxygen sensor to go bad.

It’s very important that the shop you take your car to is populated with experienced auto repair technicians. The time it takes to properly diagnose a problem could take anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half – it depends on what needs to be done – but generally a diagnoses takes about an hour. We charge $125 for that first hour, which includes pulling the codes, researching the diagnostic tree, and confirming that diagnoses. Unfortunately we can’t just pull a magical code that will tell us everything about the issue a car is facing.

The cost of an auto repair also depends on what the technician is doing. Let’s say you take your car, for example, to Joe’s Auto Shop. Joe’s a good guy but his ten year old alignment machine hasn’t been calibrated in two years. You get your alignment done, and in six months you discover your tires are all worn out. Well, number one, what’s Joe’s warranty? And number two, are you getting a good alignment? If you go to a good auto repair shop like Curry’s Auto Service with a good reputation and an ironclad warranty where we stand behind everything we do, it will actually be less expensive for you in the long run by having the job done right the first time. Having a good technician with state of the art tools at his disposal and who can do the job that needs to be done right the first time around are critical.

Those are some of the things you need to look out for when going to an auto repair shop, because an inexpensive price does not mean a good auto repair, that’s for sure! I think Curry’s Auto Service is somewhere in the middle; we’re not the most expensive guys in town and we’re not the least expensive either. You got to have good people, good equipment, and someone that stands behind their product, and we do at Curry’s Auto Service.