Is It Okay for The Mechanic to Charge Me?

So my car was in an accident one month earlier, I had an issue arise in the gearbox and after looking on forum there was a possibility that it could be damages from the accident that led to the fault. I took the car to the mechanic and we established the problem because it's a common issue and we agreed that he would have a look at if there's damages towards the gearbox.

Two days later I get a call saying to come in, he said there's no damages that far in and he can either order the part which is over a $5000 fix or try to repair it. Shocked at the cost I said I need time to think about it. Four days later, because I couldn't move the car at the time, I receive a call and I found someone cheaper who can do the repair where his quote was $2500-$3000 and another person quoted $1500.

I explain this and then he says well he has to charge me for the time taken to diagnose the car. I tell him we already knew what the problem was, and all he had to do was lift it on a hoist and look under it. He said he did that and also ran it through the diagnostic tool which took 2 hours of charged time. Realistically I've seen diagnostic tools used and a whole transmission service was done in one hour so I'm just not sure at this point.

Poll Options

  • 141
    Pay the 2 hours
  • 4
    Say its not 2 hours of work
  • 2
    Dont pay


  • +45 votes

    all he had to do was lift it on a hoist and look under it.

    This is called "work". People charge for their work.

    • +6 votes

      I love this… as a mechanic, my favourite conversation is;

      “What do you mean 1 hour labour?? All you did was diagnose the fault.”

      “If you want me to diagnose the issue and fix it, I can roll it into one price. If you want me to diagnose it so you can buy spare parts from eBay and get your “carton of piss” mate to fix it, then that 1 hour, that’s the cost for my time. Anyway, see you back here in a few weeks after you buy a $5 part and get your (fropanity) mate to fit it for you and it fails.”


        Its not that like i get that he put time aside to do it but i just didnt think its 2 hours of time either, as a mechanic does it take 2 hours for the diagnostic tool to scan for codes?


          We quote our clients based on the fact they can't do what we do. They either pay the price or find another provider.

        • +1 vote

          If all a mechanic does is plug in a diagnostic reader then they're not doing their job. There's a lot more to diagnosing a fault than that. I can't believe you're even questioning this. Next time do it yourself and it won't be an issue. This time pay up for the work you requested be done.

          • +1 vote

            @apsilon: Agreed with apsilon. There is more to diagnostic work than plugging in a scan tool. Scan tools are not the be all to end all. They are basically just a tool for telling you what sensor has an issue. It’s up to the mechanic to then work out what that error means and what is causing that fault code.

            The other thing is, like others have said, it’s the sheer cost of the tools. The guy needed the scan tool, which often run into the thousands of dollars. Needed a hoist, again, thousands, etc. you get the picture. All this has to be paid for.

            1~2 hours for diagnosis of an issue in a gearbox is not unreasonable. Gearboxes are complicated pieces of engineering. But he has given you a quote to fix it. So, unless you had a written quote for the diagnostic work, pay the man for his time and his tools and take your car elsewhere.


        “carton of piss” mate
        your (fropanity) mate

        Why hate on the mate though? He's just being a good mate.

        • +2 votes

          Because this “mate” is usually the one that ends up doing more damage. It’s the old adage, “pay peanuts, get monkeys.”

          Not having a go at helpful mates, but I find that these cars usually end up back at the shop to have the damage undone that an inexperienced spanner spinner has caused and somehow it was my fault. “It wasn’t like that before you looked at it 3 weeks ago…”

          The other general give away is, that if their mate is any decent mechanic, why did they need to bring their car into me to have someone else diagnose the issue?


            @pegaxs: My mate has 5 years of experience at VW and has worked for a servicing company for the next 4 but lives in 50min away so couldnt take the car to him so i took it to a nearby mechanic.


            @pegaxs: I was a really good mechanic, but I charged peanuts for backyard jobs
            I just loved working as a mechanic, that was my pay
            I could work at my own pace & I can drink when I wanted
            You get to chat to people and explain things
            In my time as a mechanic, they were the best jobs I had

            • +1 vote

              @the Unforgiven: Oh, I agree. I do a lot more back yard work now that I am not on the tools as much any more. I enjoy teaching guys about motorcycles and how to repair and service them, especially tricky motorcycles to work on like Ducati. While I don't charge a lot, I am certainly more expensive than "a carton."

              And my issue isn't with the genuine back yard mechanics, it's with the blue singlet under a flanno, two sizes too small stubbies and thongs brigade. The know all, know nothings that have "classic, not plastic" stickers and a box of rusty unorganised tools. These are usually the ones charging "a slab of piss" for doing what would be 4~8hours worth of work and end up (fropanity) more things than they fix.


    Very difficult to say without knowing what car, what transmission, and what the problem is.

    • +1 vote

      I don't think the problem is with the transmission in the car…


      Yeah 5K you'd expect a whole new transmission OR it's a european car?

      • +1 vote

        Normal rebuild cost of a common modern auto (like a 6 speed ZF) is around $4.5k - $5k so they're in the right range. Most people wouldn't bother and instead grab a box from a wrecker for $800 - $1200 and hope for the best.

  • +15 votes

    It doesn't really matter how long you think the diagnosis should take, you don't have your own hoist or diagnostic tool which is why you took it to the mechanic in the first place, so IMO you should pay.

  • +1 vote

    And this is why it is always a good idea to discuss and agree what work is going to be done, and what it will cost, BEFORE anyone does anything.

  • +13 votes

    Hmmm another thread where OP expects somebody else to do work for free.

  • +5 votes

    The time he spent putting your car on the hoist and running a diagnostic scan is time he could've spent on another customers car.

    If you aren't satisfied that it amounts to 2 hours work you can try to ask for an explanation and argue it down, but there's no question you owe them.

  • +6 votes

    he says well he has to charge me for the time taken to diagnose the car.

    So pay him.

    You don't work for free do you?

    Sounds like the problem is a nut behind the wheel.


      See at the point if coversation i thought it was basically me asking for a quote thats why i was taken aback when he said it took 2 hours.

  • +6 votes

    Just because YOU think you know what the problem is doesn't mean you do. The mechanic still has to do all the relevant checks to confirm what the problem is. If they just repair cars based on customers diagnosis's they would have more repeat failures then they could handle.
    If you were wrong and they repaired your car for $5000 and it didn't fix the problem you would be back complaining that you paid for incorrect repairs.


    How much is he charging you for the 2 hrs?

    Four days later, because I couldn't move the car at the time

    Where was your car during that time? In the 1st mechanic's workshop?

  • -2 votes

    how much is he charging for the work he did do?
    is it reasonable?

    get 3 quotes from the mechanics and argue if hes charging u excessive too?
    other than that you should pay him for telling you what is wrong/what needed to be done….

    • +3 votes

      He’s charging for 2 hours to run diagnostics. Completely more than justified IMO

      • -1 vote

        i saw 2hrs in the OG post…

        how much is per hr?

        • -2 votes


          I’m sure a price that’s more than reasonable


            @k-rokfm: well if the mechanic is charging $5k for a job others are charging 1.5 / 3k etc whats to say his '2hr diagnostic charge' is reasonable? hence i asked the op to specify…

            if its reasonable then as others pointed out - he should pay the man for his time and move on.


              @spoonmugen: If $5k is normal price for a full rebuild what's to say the ones charging $1.5 - $3k are actually going to do all the work involved in a complete rebuild? Maybe they're just going to change the ATF, hose it down and call it rebuilt.


                @apsilon: the issue isnt the quality of the rebuild… and comparing the 5k quote to the other quote/if being apples to apples…
                was working out if he should pay the 2hr diagnostic work or argue it depending on what $$ he was being asked for.
                op didnt say what the figure was


                  @spoonmugen: There's zero question over if OP should pay or not. He asked for work to be done, work was done. Pay up. OP apparently expected the work to be done for free but didn't clarify that. That's completely on OP, not the mechanic.

  • +5 votes

    You could always purchase your own $5k-$10k scan tool, get your own workshop and hoist, tools and other test equipment, insurance, apprentice, professional clothing and PPE. Then you can go to tech for 3 year to get your basic licence, and then to trade training nights through bosch or repco at a few $100. Or you can just pay the man for his time and knowledge.

    • +1 vote

      purchase your own $5k-$10k scan tool

      I love this, it's spot on.

      And I love hearing… "yeah, well, I can buy a $15 Bluetooth OBD reader and get a free app on the app store that will do what that reader does…"

      hahaha… no, no it wont. :D


        My OBD bluetooth reader is this one:-
        but it no good for an automatic unless it throws a code
        I used to do the automatics at a Holden dealerships, they were the 'traumatics' were used to call them
        We road test them, sometimes we had a oil pressure gauge attached to them

        why did you think the auto had problems?
        I would go to a dealership, if you had money, but the best way to go would be go to a place that does automatics and nothing else. they would be the best one to advise you. if it needs a full rebuild, which I doubt it, just say to them "I am a bit broke, would an auto from the wreakers do? You could even go to the wreakers, once you know your auto is stuffed, as wreakers now-a-days can do mechanic work. it will be cheaper than going to just a garage who does all types of cars or to a dealership

        I hope the mud is a bit clearer. Come back here if you need more advice. have a good 1 :) cheers


    Pay the man.
    Those diagnostic tools cost thousands of dollars plus yearly upgrade costs to keep them relevant
    also the time the car was on the hoist was time not working on another car.
    It is more than reasonable that they expect you to pay for the time and the scan.


    If my pc is broken and I ask you to help me take a look and diagnose the issue, and after you have diagnosed the issue, I decide to get someone else to help me fix the pc, would you expect me to pay you?



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