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Just wanting to know how you all are handling labor billing for the smaller things ie Bulbs, Air Filters, Wiper Blades, Cabin Air etc. We tend to charge only a few bucks ($10) for cabin air labor (we make about 70% profit on the part) and no labor for air filters because these are typically done with some other services and sold as an upsale. Wiper Blades are labor free and bulbs are typically $10 installed (not headlights). The thing here is that when you look these things up in the labor guide it seems that they are way overstated. We have seen several cabin airs which took 5 minutes to install but called for .5-.8 hrs which is great profit but seems like highway robbery and hard to justify to the customer. Brake bulbs typically call for .4hrs etc. So just wanted to see how you all are charging for this. I think we are leaving a lot on the table here personally but not sure what the market will pay.

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We got into the habit of selling a mileage service when doing cabin air filters. If the tech notices low flow or foul air from the vent I'll suggest a 30k mile service. That way we get paid 2 or 3 hours to change the filters and wipers and the customer gets on a maintenance schedule. Most of the mileage maintenance is easy but important. Normally if the cabin filter is clogged the whole car is overdue for the scheduled maintenance service.


As for small repairs that take less than 10 minutes I normally dont charge labor, the word of mouth advertising is worth it. It's a fine line I guess between giving away time and providing outstanding customer service.

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I charge labor on just about everything except wiper blades. $10 for air and cabin filters, $15 for bulbs, etc. Some are super easy to do, others suck. It evens out. Also, my employees incentives are based on hours sold, so I would be cheating them if there wasn't any billed hours.


... I pay 0.2 for filters, 0.3 for bulbs, 0.5 for tire rotations. Obviously I adjust the labor rate for these specific jobs. This is where you want to start watching effective labor rate and such.

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We do not typically charge any labor for air filter or cabin filter. We do make exceptions for some cabin filters that are more difficult to install. For marker/parking/tag light bulbs we have been charging $5 for labor but after reading this post I think I might increase it. What do you all charge for labor for headlights? Do you go by estimated labor or do you have a general price for most vehicles?

Edited by 5 Star Auto Spa
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We try to do a show and tell. Many vehicles come in with damaged air filter boxes/retainers, tree debris in the cowl and a clogged cabin filter. We vacuum out the debris from the air filter box before we install the new filter and ditto with the cowl.

most air filters .15 labor

most cabin filters .5 labor

most easy bulbs .15 labor

wiper blades n/c labor but we only sell blade assemblies that are of good quality.


If the car is due for mileage based service we try to bump it to a proper service.


we work off a $139.50 shop rate.

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We charge $10 for bulbs that are easily accessible, wipers and air filters are free. We have been charging book time for cabin filters. Its hard to keep Techs motivated to sell parts they are not getting paid to install but we have been doing it for free for so long now its expected by our customers. Techs are being pulled away from working on paid customer vehicles too install wiper blades outside for free.

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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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