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Labor Pains - Why Garage Labor Costs Vary

Posted by on 9/10/2013 to Info News
Unlike many skilled professions, there is no one standard hourly rate for automotive garage workers. Each shop sets its own price for the line item marked "labor" on your repair bill. A shop's basic per-hour labor rates can be influenced by a number of factors including location, competition, level of specialization and technician grade. A shop in an area that gets a lot of rain and snow may charge a higher hourly rate to compensate its technicians for having to deal with rust and undercarriage damage caused by the salt and sand used on roads. Coastal shops typically charge more because saltwater is a corrosive, causing rusted bolts, electrical issues and other problems. Location and competition often combine to create pricing differences- cities where there are a lot of competing shops may well have lower average labor costs, whereas garages with few rivals nearby typically charge more. It can cost a shop more to specialize, but may cost customers less. Specialized shops need to purchase expensive equipment and may have much higher insurance rates. While their labor costs may reflect these expenses, generally these types of shops save customers in the long run by being able to diagnose and repair problems associated with their specialty quickly and accurately. They also often have a higher grade of technician on staff. Automotive technicians are classified in three grades, "A", "B" or "C", with an "A" grade being the highest. Shops that want to attract skilled, valuable sought-after "A" grade techs obviously need to be able to offer them a higher hourly wage, benefits, and in some cases even a company car. They also need to keep their employees current on new automotive technologies. Techs need to attend classes regularly to keep up with advances in vehicles and tools, and repair shops usually foot the bill for this schooling. So while it may seem like the average labor costs are high, they actually reflect the price a shop pays for its location, level of specialization and the expertise of its technicians.

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