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Understand Your Auto Repair Bill

When you look at an auto repair bill, you expect to see two major components: parts and labor. But there are always a few miscellaneous items that can cause confusion. As our Members' advocate, we want to arm you with the knowledge you need to understand your entire bill.

Here are a few common fees you may find on your repair bill:

  1. Hazardous Waste Disposal Fees/Environmental Recycling—This fee can vary in different states, cities, and counties, but most repair shops are required by law to dispose of motor oil and other fluids in a manner safe for the environment.
  2. Shop Supplies—These include solvents, cleaners, rags, brake cleaner, etc. Some repair shops charge a flat fee for this, while others itemize the fee.
  3. Tire Recycling—Many states require repair shops to recycle old tires whenever they install new tires.
  4. Flat Fees—This typically refers to a service that isn't broken into parts and labor, such as wheel alignment or balancing tires.
  5. Inspection Fees—This fee is incurred when a technician does basic testing on the engine, battery, and tires.
  6. Diagnostic Fees—If the technician has to use the shop's mechanical or computer equipment to identify the source of your car's malfunction, this fee will appear on your bill.

Additional Tips:

  • No repair shop should do any repair you did not authorize. When you get your estimate, be clear that you will not pay for any unauthorized repairs. If the mechanic finds something that needs repair while under the hood, he needs to contact you first.
  • An estimate is a ballpark figure, and usually the final price is slightly higher or lower. However, if the final repair cost is more than 10% higher than the estimate, have a discussion with your mechanic about the discrepancy and make sure you haven't been overcharged.
  • Even if you've paid your bill, if you feel you were overcharged, you can still negotiate with the repair shop. If they are uncooperative, consider contacting the Better Business Bureau; if you've had word done at a AAA Car Care Center or AAA Approved Auto Repair shop, contact Member Relations for assistance.

Click here to learn more about AAA Auto Repair and Maintenance Solutions.