Is Charge of $850 Reasonable to Carry out Repairs on My Holden Barina?

After last experience, I had another drama where the car's power steering oil had massive leak and the car was also jerking when cold at a low speed. This Holden Barina was not driveable as it was dripping steering oil so I get it towed.

I took it to a mechanic who stated it will cost $850 to carry out following repairs:

1) $500 to install new steering hose and it goes under the engine so require extra time to remove parts.
2) $250 for new spark plugs and ignition leads which appear very old and potentially causing misfire. I am not sure if car jerking at low speed when cold is due to misfire. Is it correct?

3) $100 to change serpentine belt which is also damaged.

Can someone with repair experience advise if these charges are reasonable?

I searched eBay and apparently I could get ignition leads for $49 with 3 years warranty and spark plugs from super Cheap Auto for $20. Not sure about ignition leads quality from eBay but sparks plugs from SCA are NGK and mechanic is also using the same brand.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  • +4 votes

    How old is your car? Asking because it might just not be economical to keep fixing it.


      The thread in the OP seems to indicate that their car is 20 years old


      It's 20 years old car.

      I bought it for my partner to learn driving and get Ps so wasn't comfortable to buy expensive car. Having said, I now believe I should have gone up to $3k to buy new model car as this is what I would end up paying including these new repairs.

      • +12 votes

        Not a car expert but I think the lesson is more that you shouldn't have bought a Barina.


          Lesson learnt

          • +1 vote

            @Sshanaz: Oh and I just noticed the:

            I should have gone up to $3k

            If this is a sub-$3k car, I wouldn't even consider spending almost a grand on it, since as you've had the bad luck to experience first hand, fixing one issue doesn't mean another won't pop up almost immediately.

      • +1 vote

        I now believe I should have gone up to $3k to buy new model car

        If you skip this repair you’ll only need to come up with $2150 for that newer 3k car.
        Seriously tho, these kinds of car tend to be money pits, you either drive them into the ground to get your money’s worth or get rid of them asap.


        We have a 1996 impreza and it's had very few repairs (though it's only done 130,000km mind you). Still runs quite well.
        It's definitely the type of car thats the issue rather than the age imho

  • +4 votes

    Don't forget to factor in labour…

  • +4 votes

    Most of the cost will be labour. Doesn't seem unreasonable at first glance.

  • +2 votes

    Holden Barina

    This is all the cost coming from.

    Like buying a coffee, you pay $3 -$5, cost of making it is $0.2 - $0.5, just the labour and rent eat into the price.

    if you think you can supply to part and ask for labour only cost then you see the contribution of the labor cost in your quoted $850.

    Would suggest to get another quote by just tow your car to another repairer if you have NRMA RA or similar cover .


      I have NRMA RA but you can appreciate there is no guarantee that the other mechanic will be cheaper.

      From past experience, lot of mechanics wanted to see a car before providing a quote so calling them won't be beneficial.

      This mechanic provides itemised invoice which clearly reflect labour and part charges. When he provided quote, he stated it would be 0.5hr labour for spark plugs and ignition leads replacement so $250 appears very expensive when you consider price of parts.

  • +1 vote

    On a Barina? $850 would probably get you a whole new one. :D

    On a real note, the power steering hose sounds expensive, but then again, I don’t know what is involved in replacing it. Sounds like they are quoting a genuine part price and excessive labour.

    Plugs and leads for a Barina shouldn’t cost that much. It’s not a big job to replace 4 plugs and 4 leads. I don’t know off the top of my head what plugs the Barina runs, but unless they are iridium plugs, even $250 to change them sounds a bit much.

    There is either more to the work that the mechanic is not telling you or you’re not telling us, or it does seem a bit on the pricy side. But that being said, it’s not overly excessive. Just a bit on the higher side.


      I have literally quoted whatever this mechanic told me and he also stated 0.5hr labour to get both plugs and leads replaced.

      I found the ignition leads for $48 where the seller offers 3 years warranty. I am unsure about quality and how Ebay warranty could be redeemed 8 months down the line.!2289!AU!-1:rk:9:pf:0

      SCA is selling spark plugs for $4.31 each and require 4 in total. The mechanic advised that he is also using the same brand.

      • +1 vote

        As I said, it depends on what parts they are using.

        I would expect a set of plug leads to run about the $50 to $80 mark. Plugs are anywhere from $5 each to $20 each, depending if they are using iridium or not. I would imagine labour for this to be about 30 mins tops, so, maybe $50 to fit. So, to fit 4 "normal" plugs and 4 leads, I would expect it to be around $150. If they are using iridium plugs, maybe closer to $200.

        Serpentine belt, again, same thing. If they are using a "Gates" belt, it may be about $50 for the belt and about $50 to fit.

        The power steering hose is the harder one, because I just don’t know the price or the difficulty in replacing it. It may have special ends on it or it may just have worm drive clamps. It may be easy to get to or it may require partial disassembly to get at part of the hose. Been a long time since I saw a Barina to work on.

        I just think that they guy is putting on some "so you're stuck" tax. The other problem is the throwing good money to chase bad. It's a 20yo Barina. They are garbage, and seriously, it is not worth throwing more at the car than what the car is worth. $850 could buy your partner a whole shit load of driving lessons or go 1/3rd of the way to buying a better vehicle.

        But, sure, I would question their prices. And don’t use eBay as a reference. Use something like Repco or Sparesbox (or SCA in a pinch) if you going to ask them about prices.


          Thank you!


          I just think that they guy is putting on some "so you're stuck" tax

          It could also be a little inflated so he doesn’t have to do the work and encourage you to get rid of this car and get a new(er) one.

  • +2 votes

    These charges are completely reasonable.

    Yours sincerely,

    Random internet stranger


    For what you have described $850 sounds reasonable. The question is weather you want to spend that much on a very old car not worth very much.

  • +6 votes

    It’s a simple fix really, just put it on the scrap heap and buy a small Toyota.

  • +1 vote

    Seems reasonable for everything listed

    To fit the hose, they'll likely need to drain/refill/bleed the power steering system too (or at least partially) to be able to replace it. Parts will make up 25% of the cost, the rest is labour.

    Plugs and leads could be done yourself; the belt probably too if you've ever swung a spanner

  • +2 votes

    It's a Holden… So NO just scrap it

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