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I would like to come up with a chart that will help me know how much to charge for diagnostics.

This is what I have so far. Any input will be appreciated.


Level 1

Fluid Check

Air/ Check tires On level 1 I would like things that can be diagnosed visually. I can come up with a reasonable price to charge the Scan Codes customer. I also thought about just charging 0.5 hours but it seems that is not working out too good, plus i dont think is fair to charge $40.00 for fluid check or just to check tires.


Level 2



Front, Rear Suspension On Level 2 I would like to list things that I know my techs need to take parts off to be able to check the



Level 3

Engine noise

Cooling system On Level 3 Cars that need to stay over night or takes 1+ hours to diagnosed.

Fuel System




I hope this is a good idea for me to stay on track.

What do you guys think? Good idea? Should i just charged 1 hours minimum of diagnostic time?




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I see where you are going with this and you have the right idea. I will tell you what we do. We break down all diagnostics into separate jobs:


Check engine light

ABS diagnosis

Air bag diagnosis

Drive train/Drive line noise

Suspension/ Steering

Engine mechanical



Cooling system

Charging system

Starting system

Pre-Trip Check



For each diagnostic testing ,job, we list all that we do which shows value to the customer and explain in detail what we do and the charges before we proceed. This helps the customer understand that they are paying for testing and inspecting.


Deciding what to charge is up to you, you can start with Mitchell or Alldata labor time for diagnosing, and adjust accordingly. For the Pre-Trip inspection, we charge .5, unless they are getting other work, then we incorporate with the job.


The key thing is to get paid for whatever diagnosing and testing and inspecting you are doing.


I hope this helps.


Oh, and keep working on the business, it will pay off!

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I do it a little different.

Since I do mainly electrical it does make it a bit easier. People already know they are here for some sort of diagnostics that their regular mechanic couldn't handle.


I break it down by years, based on the diagnostics usually associated with them.

99 and older is the cheapest --- If they are driving this old of a car it's either because of their income, kids car, or they just like the old relic. This way they can get their car diagnosed at a cheaper rate that more or less fits their budget (if they had any)


00 to 05 is the next level --- scanner costs and reflashing is the main reason


05 to 13 the most expensive --- After 05 almost all the manufacturers have gone to an on-line system. Which requires the yearly or monthly (of 3 days in some cases) subscription to the manufacturers site.


The only exceptions to diagnostics is when somebody comes in with a power window that is down, grinding away, and it's pretty easy to tell it's the drive assembly faulty. Stuff like that I won't charge a diag. fee for.


It may not be the best policy... but it works for my little shop.

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Visual inspections I do not charge for. If it is an apparent problem without any lift time or any diss-assembly I usually give those away all the while explaining to the customer that we do normally charge for our diagnostic work as it is usually extensive with our equipment being used but we don't think its fair to charge for something that we can catch within 10 seconds. They usually appreciate that. I guess that would be similar to the first Level.


If you ever get trapped up with "oh i got a noise, id like to get the car up on the lift and check real quick" type of nonesense, its easy to dismiss this type of service as almost complimentary. I try to charge at least a $50 lift fee. Sometimes I call it a diagnostic fee (of course we are diagnosing and/or inspecting for the customer), other customers that don't like to pay for diag I explain to them that it takes time out of my techs day, takes up space in the bay, time to rack the car as well as have the car on my expensive Rotary lifts so I have to charge a lift fee. Most don't have a problem. The ones that do have a problem, throw them out, nicely.

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  • 7 months later...

These are all good ideas. My question is how do you charge for check engine lights where the fix is somewhat straight forward (ie O2 Heater Circuit). Currently we charge a half hour for check engine light diagnostic and charging system diag. But we have an issue with coming up with a solution for those not so clear cut codes that require more digging and flow charts.


A lot of times the customer wants a price when they drop it off. I don't want my service writer to say the $45 (half hour) and then it require an in depth diagnosis that we loose on but I hate to keep calling the customer with a revised price.

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I charged 3 hours today on a diagnosis and .9 hours replacing the part. It's on a system that I'm very (imo) proficient on. There is NO way the test can be done quicker even though the book hour calls it at 30 minutes. The job requires scan tool/scope use, checking fuel pressure, removing and installing injectors and rocker arms , lash adjustment, barring the engine over and doing all this multiple times.

In my opinion the solution multi sided.

A: tech doing diagnosis must be good and willing to learn. (Scanner Danner and other educators can do more for your bottom line than you could ever imagine)

B: you must charge for every minute of diagnosis, regardless of what everyone else is doing. (You might say what if I loose my customers, well when the other shop can't fix it correctly guess who they'll call? When the other shop owner goes bankrupt who will the call?)

C: flowcharts don't work and cause more harm than good in some cases. Technicians who follow processes like Paul Danner and Dan Sullivan teach will be far faster and more successful and happier than a tech following a flow chart. The tech must have a good knowledge of wiring diagrams and electrical theory but it's not rocket science! KISS.

Read the codes for free, assist them in any way possible but don't give your most valuable inventory away for free or half price your usual rate.


Sent from my SCH-I605 using Tapatalk 2



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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      Most shop owners would agree that the independent auto repair industry has been too cheap for too long regarding its pricing and labor rates. However, can we keep raising our labor rates and prices until we achieve the profit we desire and need? Is it that simple?
      The first step in achieving your required gross and net profit is understanding your numbers and establishing the correct labor and part margins. The next step is to find your business's inefficiencies that impact high production levels.
      Here are a few things to consider. First, do you have the workflow processes in place that is conducive to high production? What about your shop layout? Do you have all the right tools and equipment? Do you have a continuous training program in place? Are technicians waiting to use a particular scanner or waiting to access information from the shop's workstation computer?
      And lastly, are all the estimates written correctly? Is the labor correct for each job? Are you allowing extra time for rust, older vehicles, labor jobs with no parts included, and the fact that many published labor times are wrong? Let's not forget that perhaps the most significant labor loss is not charging enough labor time for testing, electrical work, and other complicated repairs.  
      Once you have determined the correct labor rate and pricing, review your entire operation. Then, tighten up on all those labor leaks and inefficiencies. Improving production and paying close attention to the labor on each job will add much-needed dollars to your bottom line.
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