Do you ever wonder why auto repair shops charge a diagnostic fee to tell you what’s wrong with your car? Why should you be paying a mechanic just to figure out what’s wrong? Shouldn’t you only get a bill for repairs? The simple answer is that we have to charge for diagnostics if we want to stay in business. A mechanic who specializes in diagnostics is highly skilled, highly experienced, and can’t work for free. Diagnostic service is often the most challenging service a repair shop can provide, but because the vehicle isn’t fixed the instant we figure out what’s wrong with it, people sometimes fail to see the value in a good diagnosis.

Let’s apply this same logic to a visit to your physician. You generally don’t arrive at your physician’s office with a clear diagnosis of your condition. You’re there to get his or her expert opinion on a health concern, but you’re not better once you have a diagnosis. The diagnosis will lead your doctor to prescribe some form of treatment, whether that’s medication, surgery, etc.

As with the medical example, sometimes it can take much longer to diagnose what’s wrong than it will to fix it. If repair shops didn’t charge for diagnostics, then the most time-consuming part of the job  would be free. You should also proceed with caution in any shop that advertises free diagnostics. Why? Because that shop is likely burying the diagnostic charges in the parts and labor charges for the repair, or they couldn’t stay in business. The other option is that they’re simply guessing on what could be wrong and potentially doing work that doesn’t need to be done. This can cost you a great deal more in the long run, as you end up paying for unnecessary repairs while they wait to see which “repair” actually fixes the problem.

At UpTown, we strive to set a clear expectation regarding diagnostic charges. When you call to make an appointment, we can give you a general diagnostic charge based on your complaint (a leak, for example, will typically take less time to diagnose than an emissions failure). Once we know what’s going on with your vehicle, we provide you with a complete estimate of the recommended repairs and allow you to decide how to proceed. This way, you always know what you’re being charged for and why, with no hidden charges. Ever.