A small bodywork scratch: $1,500. An exhaust valve replacement: $3,500. A new trunk-release switch cover: $150.
All are actual repair costs recounted to AOL Autos from drivers who took their cars to their auto shops with seemingly minor problems only to be hit by disproportionately expensive repair bills.
And unless a motorist wants to fix the fault themselves or buy a new vehicle, most drivers in similar situations are left with little choice but to stump up the cash and grin and bear it. Or at least grit their teeth, hold their tongue, and then bear it.
We take a look at some common repair jobs that can add up to a pretty penny.
Beyond the bumper
Deana May, at Los Angeles, California-based AC Auto finishing, knows what surprises can lay in store for a customer once they get behind a simple surface scratch or abrasion.
“It’s a scary thing — looks can be deceiving. You can do an estimate on a front bumper then take it off and behind it there’s all kinds of damage. Low-profile cars with low-profile tires go over a bump or up a driveway, they don’t take an angle, often they need a whole new front end.”
May says they see a lot of this type of problem at her shop and says a Lotus driver last month was quoted a cool $5,400 to repair his car, though from looking at it she couldn’t tell there was much wrong.
Also she warns of the dangers — and costs — of drivers getting erroneous quotes for repairs with high-performance parts, such as for an AMG or Brabus for a Mercedes, and then receiving standard or stock components in their place.
$150 cover up
Mark Essig, a writer in a small town in North Carolina, says he was astonished to be charged $150 by a local mechanic to replace a missing cover for the trunk-release switch in his ten-year-old Mercedes CLK. While expensive repair bills are not uncommon for upscale European marques, Essig says this one was the icing on a frosty $2,000 repair bill he’d expected to come in at much less. He also noted it came as an additional cost not included in the estimate.
He says: “It was part of a $2000 repair bill that included valve cleaning and brake work, and I was so sick to my stomach that I couldn’t quibble over $150. Best part was, I didn’t ask him to do it.”
Meanwhile, Porsche 944 owner Michael Russell, an AOL Autos friend, found out to his cost that buying a old-school German car could unexpectedly cost more than he bargained for. A $15 exhaust valve replacement cost him $3,500 once labor was taken into account.
Basically, he says, they had to rip out the engine to get to the valve, which had burned out, a common ailment in older performance vehicles. But without the repair, he says, he had no way of getting to work.
I found this cost when I took my wife’s 1995 Nissan 240SX S-ER to my local mechanic’s last week to fix the air conditioning. I’d already taken it into the shop the week before, where they’d diagnosed a leaking gasket that had depressurized the system. So they duly fixed the gasket, re-filled the system with Freon coolant and pressurized it. Bill: $300.
Not bad for an AC fix, I thought, until two days later the system again began blowing hot. So it was back into the shop, where they took a second look at it before telling me another seal had broken, this time in a hard-to-reach spot, meaning extra labor. Estimated cost: $800.
When I pointed out that the original fix was under warranty, my mechanic agreed but argued that a different component had malfunctioned and therefore the additional repair was not under warranty. Many more attempts at bargaining failed. Result: I’m $300 out of pocket, and my wife has a long, hot summer to look forward to (unless she nabs my car, which is likely).
Advice: Get a second opinion, and always assess general system integrity when replacing individual components on older-model cars.
Regardless of the nature of your repair, you don’t have to worry about being overcharged at Fenton’s Custom & Collision. We take pride in offering reliable and affordable auto body and auto repair services. Give us a call today at (618) 568-BODY (2639) to discuss your needs, or REQUEST A QUOTE using our online form.