How Do Auto Repair Shops Charge For Diagnostics?

How Do Auto Repair Shops Charge For Diagnostics?

A diagnostic fee is the most misunderstood and confusing charge for customers in auto repair shops as it is uncommon in other industries.


What is a Diagnostic Fee?

Before going into details of how do auto repair shops charge for diagnostics? It is important to understand the purpose of diagnosis and a diagnostic fee.

Let say you went to an auto repair shop with a broken headlight and mechanic tell him that you have a broken headlight; that’s not a diagnosis.

If anything complex happens like a wiring issue or something like that, then the mechanic would diagnose and find the exact fault. 

Only if a mechanic tells you about the reason behind the fault (e.g. specific wire ), then it will be considered full diagnosis. When customers and mechanics are both able to understand the issue, they will only replace the faulty part and do not overcharge on other working parts. 

Should Auto Repair Shops Charge a Diagnostic Fee?

From an auto repair shop point of view, I think a diagnostic fee is fair because they spend time diagnosing the fault, and time is money. However, it is only possible if the customer trusts the shop to do an efficient diagnostic and not overcharged due to incompetencies.

Mechanics are providing you a service that brings you one step closer to your end goal: fixing your car. They have employees that are offering you their valuable services.

Sometimes you will have to meet those customers who are just looking for free advice to get things fixed themselves. So, a diagnostic fee will keep such dishonest customers away from your shop. 

Keep the following things in mind while charging a diagnostic fee:

  • If your shop is in a city or town where no other competitors are charging the diagnosis fee, you will have to select the diagnostic price carefully; otherwise, you may end up losing your customer. 
  • When you open a new shop and don’t have a consistent stream of customers, it’s not a good idea to implement a diagnostic fee. First of all, establish a base of regular customers and build a reputation, then you can implement a diagnostic fee.  

So, there should be a diagnostic fee, but how do auto repair shops charge for diagnostics? 

Fixed Vs. Hourly Diagnostic Fee

Let’s say you have an auto repair shop, and you have decided to implement a diagnostic fee, then how much will you charge?

Should the fee vary depending on the time spent to diagnose the issue, or should it be a flat or fixed rate?

Some diagnoses will take a few hours, but some will be done in less than an hour. Some customers wouldn’t understand the complexity of work, so it is simple to charge a fixed rate for a diagnosis. It will help your customer to know your price whenever he visits your shop. It can work for both customers and the owner of an auto repair shop. 

How Much Do Auto Repair Shops Charge For Diagnostics?

It is not that simple and easy to answer this question. When you decide to implement a fixed diagnostic fee, you will have to take a few factors into account. 

  • The location of your auto repair shop
  • Number of competitors in the town or city
  • The amount of existing business you have.

If we talk about the USA, they charge anywhere from $50 to $150, and that is equivalent to ½ or 1 hour of labor. If you are starting to implement a diagnostic fee, we would suggest you start with a lower value that is $50. In other words, charge a fee that can help to sustain your business. You can’t run an auto repair business just on the diagnosis fee. 

After diagnosing the issue, you need to fix it to make a profit. If your diagnostic fee is too high, then it will stop customers from visiting your shop. Customers look for shops that have a lower fee. So, start with a lower fee and gradually increase it when you have a consistent stream of customers. 

How to Successfully Implement a Diagnostic Fee?

Now, you have an idea of a diagnosing fee, and you know how much you should charge. Now the question is, how can you successfully implement a diagnostic fee? So, follow the below-given tips to implement the diagnostic fee smoothly and don’t scare away your consistent customers. 

  • Communicate
  • Before implementing a diagnostic fee, try to communicate with customers early on. If someone contacts your shop via phone, then your receptionist should mention this fee during the conversation. If a customer book appointment online, then there must be a system where the diagnostic fee should be mentioned. When a person leaves his car at a shop for a fix and when he comes back and says he can’t afford the price he will definitely have to pay the diagnostic fee. So it is important to tell your customer about it in the early conversation. 

  • Educate the customer 
  • In the modern age, customers have more resources than ever before. If a person is facing any issue, he will take the help of Google, and he gets an idea of diagnosis before he came to your shop. By visiting the website customers can make a comparison between prices and can read reviews of people about the shops. So, provide awareness about the diagnostic fee. 

  • Waive the diagnostic fee and build trust
  • There will be numerous situations where you can do this, and it wouldn’t damage your business. For example, if you have diagnosed an issue in ten minutes, then waive this fee, and it will help to build trust. 

    Auto repair shops shouldn’t make diagnostic fees as a primary profit-driver and charge a reasonable fee. 

    A certain amount of time and labor is required to diagnose an issue with a vehicle. When repair shops spend time diagnosing a fault, they deserve to charge you. If you have ever worked in an auto shop, then you must have an idea of a diagnostic fee.

    Now, the question is, how much should they charge for diagnostics? Sometimes the issues are minor and quick fixes, so it can be hard for a customer to understand why they charge for just diagnosing an issue? So, in this article, we will discuss how do auto repair shops charge for diagnostics? 

    Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
    Author: Sky Hoon
    He loved the future of self driving car and cannot wait for one. In the meantime, he loved to read up all about car and components like a computer.
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