Typical hourly labour rate at auto repair garages

14 posts in this topic

Posted

Hello all,

I need to get my car repaired, but I'd like to get some input before I proceed.

Could somebody please provide me the typical hourly shop rate (ie. what they charge the customer for an hour of labour) for auto repair garages. How much does this rate vary from region to region in Germany?

Generally, do auto mechanics have a good or bad reputation in Germany? In the US, mechanics have a reputation of not being trustable.

Thanks for any input. Much appreciated.

Mittelove

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Posted

Been a few years (7 to be exact but moving back shortly) but I always got good service from the chain Pit Stop. Don't know the hourly rate but I never had any problems. Plan to go back when we move back.

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Posted

On my bills I only see the work that was done, how many points it "costed" and the actual amount in €.

E.g. 1 clutch changed, 750 points, 451€.

I don't know how long it took.

It's like in German hospitals 1 heart repaired, 36000€.

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Posted

Some garages are good and some are not so good, but if you can find one you are happy with, stick with it!

As for the hourly rate, you can always phone around and ask - I have done so in the past, and it can save you an awful lot of money, depending upon what you need to get done.

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Posted

Will depend upon what type of place you will use. Hourly charge in a non-brand garage without a Master Mechanic (Stundensatz in einer freien Werkstatt - ohne Meister) would be around 40€ per hour. I did some looking on various werkstatt forums. I also looked at some of my most recent receipts over the past few years. Nothing on those is mentioning the cost per hour. If you use a Master Mechanic it is possible to be around 70 - 90€ per hour.

Robinson100 makes sound advice to call or ask before hand. Never hurts.

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Posted

A dealership average for a non premium marque is around 75 p/h for mechanical work, 85 for diagnostics/electrical and 115 for the paint shop.

That will vary based on location and brand.

Independants are usually cheaper, but not always if they are in a premium location, or specialising in something like proper tuning or auto boxes.

As said prior, ask around, get recommendations, and build up a decent relationship with a decent mech.

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Posted

I had my car's heating repaired 2 weeks ago and paid EUR 69.50 per hour. The mechanic owning and running the workshop was a master however, and I could not have chosen another workshop in that area as this one is the only representative for my heating system nearby.

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Posted

Thanks for all the input, guys.

Do people trust the work of non-master mechanics (ie. students, apprentices)? Especially from non brand shops?

Thanks again

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Posted

Let me tell you a story Mittelove:

My car, a Golf V, was making a strange noise, which seemed to be coming from the glove compartment.

I took it along to the local VW dealer, who said the problem was the fuel pumping system and that it would cost me about €600 (plus labour!)to have repaired.

On the recommendation of a friend, I then took my car along to a Frei Werkstatt, where the mechanic took a look and a listen and said that the other mechanic could be right, but he had a feeling that it was only one little part of the pump and not the whole thing that needed changing, nad suggested that we first change that for €50.

To cut it short, he changed it, and I haven´t had any funny noises since!

Do I trust my Frei Werkstatt? Most definitely!

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Posted

Mechanics in Germany take their business very seriously!

I would seek a recommendation. Mind you, that's worth doing in any country.

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Posted

Do I trust my Frei Werkstatt? Most definitely!

Agreed, but it makes a difference what you drive. Take a Golf to pretty much any mechanic in Germany and he'll know it inside out and probably have any parts you need lying around.

Try it with something rarer and it's a lottery. I've been turned away from places, even main dealers, that couldn't (be bothered to?) help me and been given the wrong part numbers by normally reliable guys.

Generally though they're very good.

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Posted

Don't be fooled into thing having a Miester brief makes a mech any better by default.

A qualified mechanic is a a qualified mechanic, with the varying levels of ability that you would find across any skilled trade.

A miester brief is a mostly acedemic extra, often through a night school, that is biased towards the running of a shop, laws, regs etc, with very little additional practical work.

I know several with an MB who I wouldn't recommend for anything other than basic servicing work. I know many non MB mechs who can work wonders on almost anything.

Often those with the MB are off the tools, so no longer as up to date with the latest and greatest, or are out of practice.

Regular mechs are on the floor constantly, often more on the button than not.

Personally I recommend a good all brands shop for regular work, and the dealer for software update etc.

I have found that many dealer trained mechs have problems working off brand, and have difficulty adjusting to other setups. Independent shops usually have a broad general knowledge, but are limited by their investment in training and equipment.

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Posted

I entirely agree with griogarach's assessment of the situation vis-à-vis the mythical status of the value of a German IHK Meisterbrief qualification to the customer. It is, in effect, no more than the protective armour required in order to be a legally responsible business operator or manager of a traditionally IHK approved and licensed workshop. This enables the firm to obtain better conditions for its business insurances, its ability to apply for trade training subsidies, its ease of obtaining credit approval for major equipment and the availability of trade discounted (read subsidised) special tools and equipment and/or advertising co-payment from manufacturers or 'independent' marketing groups. All of these, in the eyes of the lay customer, add up to a wonderful presentation package, the excess costs for which he/she will then be personally partaking in as, what I call, the 'GT'* add-on which the per unit AW (work value) for the Meister writing the rechnung is entitled to.

*( 'GT' = Greed Tax)

As a UK 5yr apprentice trained Motor Mechanic (albeit not active as such since the mid-1970s) I worked in a nonconformist garage in Hessen for private customers on a self-employed basis in 1997 - 2002 as an old-school hands-on grease monkey. Without proof of 5 years service 'under' a German KFZ-Meister my UK qualification wasn’t good enough for the IHK. My British colleague had been 'only' a Gesellen (journeyman mechanic - German 3yr apprenticeship) for 18 years so we could trade only as an 'Auto Restauration Werkstatt', which made no difference whatsoever technically to the type of work* we did, but disadvantaged us on things like profitable pricing and accessing financing or OEM subsidised equipment.

*We routinely took on engine and transmission repairs and overhauls that 90% of German garages would balk at. They did so for good enough reasons though, IMO, as they shouldn’t attempt to repair major components (even of their own main selling lines) if they have never learned how to. In comparison to the shop-floor experiences I gained as a beginner I had to conclude they balked at difficult jobs consequently, as they’d gone through inadequate training and lacked the practical experience.

German dealership workshops, even of the most venerated makes, are thus inclined, and actually encouraged, to replace rather than repair major components. I know quite a few younger KFZ-Meister (some with an 'almost' peace sign on their spotless service costumes) who are wizards with computer based diagnostics, but have never even seen the inside of a transmission (gearbox) except in their first year Azubi Berufsschule classroom! Although I never took multi week-long courses on accountancy, insurance, working rights, politics or company law I did learn from practitioners in the workshop how to overhaul starters, alternators, heating, cooling, brake and clutch systems and engines, transmissions, axles, etc., etc..

To be fair, what I am observing here may not be a German problem per se. My lack of recent experience of the UK garage environment leads me to wonder if it could be an industry-wide generational change dictated to by the ever increasing built-in obsolescence tempo of the marketing drum. Which, in and of itself, I find truly ridiculous as the only obsolescence which is built in to most modern technical products is the speed at which they are 'deemed' to fall out of fashion.

Ask around amongst your neighbours and colleagues for workshop recommendations and, for any major work, ask for a written unverbindlich Kostenvorschlag*, and take it away to compare and reconsider if you are unsure. You may be asked to pay for it (€20-100 according to the time required) before booking the job, but the norm is to deduct that amount from the endpreis if/when they have done the work.

*non-binding cost estimate. A binding one is often impractical as, in many cases, further damage may only become evident as parts are disassembled, however when turning the car in you should write on the job order :

'Kunde muss nach Authorizierung gefragt sein vor Ersatzteil- oder Arbeits- kosten welche ein erhoeherung der Rechnung von €XXX ueber der Kostenvorschlag eingekaeuft oder getan darf sein.'.*

*(Customer must be asked for authorisation before spare parts or work, which would involve an increase of €XXX over the cost estimate, may be bought in or carried out.)

2B

ETA:

PS: AW units tend to be 20 minute blocks although not all garages use this method. Often the busy little workshops, which tend to be cheaper, have no time for fancy paperwork and their billing may be much more simplified. This is particularly common amongst the non-German mechanics who often, understandably, prefer to avoid writing complex text.

PPS: If you are ever not satisfied in any way by the work done then don't hesitate to go back and explain (in a calm manner) what is troubling you. It is not uncommon for a defect to remain hidden on a short test run and any mechanic worth his salt will welcome the opportunity to correct or improve those kind of problems. This is, to the professional, far better than either not seeing the customer again or, worse, seeing his car by chance in another workshop.

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Posted

I usually go to ATU which is a non-branded chain of workshops. So far I have always been pleased. Only once they told me upfront I should rather go to a specialist as they wouldn't have much experience with the problem at hand (it was about an auxiliary heating which was not standard feature). Apart from that my 14 year old Toyota had only maintenance work to be done for which they give you a binding quote, so I don't really know how much they charge per hour.

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