For instance lets say your car died going down the road and will not start back up. You try getting someone to jump your battery but that only works for a couple miles and now your car dies and will not start again. Now you decide to call a auto repair shop who has a tow truck. If no luck you have it towed to the nearest auto repair shop. The tow only costs the auto repair shop a few bucks in gas and a little man power to hook it up. You can expect to pay at least Sixty Bucks for the tow. Well now they use their skills to figure out you have a bad alternator after about 15 minutes. A volt meter is used for determining this. They see the volt meter showing no current coming from the alternator to the battery. So now you are charged a whole hour of diagnostic time which is usually around one hundred bucks per hour. So with the $60 tow and a whole 15 minutes in diagnostic time you are looking around a total of $160.00 so far.
The auto repair shop calls around to find the cheapest alternator they can find for you. They want to keep their own costs down. Now their cost on an alternator is lets say $80. Now they take what they paid and times it by 2, then turning around and charging you $160.00. ($80x 2=$160.00). The labor to install a typical alternator is generally around another hundred bucks depending on the type of car you have. An experienced tech will have it changed out in 15 to 20 minutes! So lets examine where we are at here money wise. The tow, diagnostic time, part marked up, and labor you are looking right around $420.00 if my math is correct. That does not include tax and shop supplies also added to your bill. So as you can see this is how auto repair shops make their money.
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