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How workshops are eating your money

By Hkapd on 08 Nov 2012

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Many of us know that workshops are overcharging us. Whether it is an authorized workshop or it be Ah Tan's Motor (fictitious name). Many times we have no idea at all as to what went wrong and we will blindly listen to what the mechanics are telling us, nodding our heads as though we understood everything they said (or did not say).

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Most other times, we just grumble a little and hand over our ATM card. After all, when something goes wrong with our car, we just want to get it fix as soon as possible. Recently I met with one such incident and, in what I felt, had been totally ripped off.

It was probably partly my fault for being too rough on the car. I had pulled up in a Shell station, grab the gear shifter, and with probably a little too much force, yanked it to "P". What followed was a heart sinking "krucckk" sound, accompanied by all the lights beside the gear indicator lighting up and the car now stuck in "R" gear. The gear shifter now has completely lost all resistance and could freely move from P to 1 with a push of a finger. The gear linkage had came loose.

Now, if this were to happen to your friend (lets call him John), who is the average driver and knows nothing about cars, along say Ang Mo Kio Street 11. He/She would probably have thought the worst and a tow truck would be definitely called for. In his/her mind now, this seems to warrant a pretty serious repair, and equally hefty bill.

The workshops know this and therefore, they charge accordingly.

Let me show you what actually happened to my car.

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No. 2 is the Gear Linkage that goes to the shifter
No. 3 is the Actuator Lever that is connected to the Gearbox itself

Due to my excessive force, No.2 came loose from No.3. It is basically a rubber boot (No.2) that slots into a ball end on No.3. However, I had damaged the rubber boot slightly and it will not fit properly onto the actuator lever anymore.

So, the workshop decided to change the actuator lever to another which has a screw end instead of a slot-in ball end. They then drill a small hole into the rubber boot so the screw can be fitted through and a nut can be used to hold it in place.

This actuator lever is only a piece of metal about the size of your thumb. So I thought, Hey! That will be cheap! Estimated about maximum $30 for that piece.

NO. It cost $240.

I was a mechanic in army and I know a little about stuffs like that, $240, that is way overkill. The mechanic who knows me knew it was excessive but he said that's what the boss quoted and he can't do anything about it. Not wanting to put my friend in a spot, I reluctantly paid up.

Now, if your friend John who by now believe that he needs to fork out at least $1000 for some huge damage to his gearbox was told that he will only have to pay $240. He'd be delighted and would have gladly paid up.

Sad truth here is, due to the high cost of cars in Singapore, many people mistakenly think that car components cost a lot when in fact cost price for a basic Suzuki swift can be as low as $6000 -$8000 (est.). Do you think that a piece of metal warrants $240?

If you have any similar experiences, do share under the comments section.

advice, local, workshops, repairs and 7 more...

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Tommimakinen Nov 08 2012 10:01 PM
yeah man... changed my plugs at a workshop and they charge $20 per piece excluding labour... Only for me to find out it only cost $6 from a stockist...
Briansoh Nov 08 2012 10:02 PM
If you knew how to do it, why didnt you do it yourself? Srsly can save the $210....
Gohwilson Nov 08 2012 10:05 PM
Sadly, that is the reality. All businesses starts up with a goal in mind and that is to make a profit. No one will want to start a business for the purpose of losing money or breaking even. Yes I do agree that piece of metal you are talking about doesn't cost $240. But you have to take into account where did this piece of part came from. It was definitely manufactured overseas as we hardly have any locally manufacturer for vehicle parts. The parts has to imported by parts importer and exporter companies and they have to pay the cost of shipping and maintaining the cost of warehousing. This part is in turn sold to parts distributors or suppliers which in turn marks up another round of costing. The workshop will order the part from the supplier and marks up again to the consumer. Problem is parts manufacturer will not entertain your order for a single part, they go by no. of containers and unless you want to spend your time going around parts stockist or suppliers searching for the part, you may save that little bit of money.
Boo_saa Nov 08 2012 11:52 PM
Bro.. Go open your own workshop. If not take bus...
Auto_emocion Nov 09 2012 07:24 AM
I would say car distributor's workshop is overcharging.
Tcx607 Nov 09 2012 07:49 AM
Singaporeans, you need to know the business cost is very high today. As a result, the labour cost is not cheap anymore.
From business point of view, the boss has to transfer the cost to customers. To the contrary, most of the time you have no choice (stuck in situation), you have to pay for the repair and move on.
Watwheels Nov 09 2012 10:23 AM
Ignorant ppl will compare part by part w/o the consideration of the running cost of operating a workshop. Even if they buy their own parts and sent it to the workshop, you think petrol is free? Mode of transport to sent the parts aka car or van is free? You think equipement fall from the sky? Workshop rent free? Hire mechanics for free? Dun be naive. If you have never run a business before, dun compare price of parts you buy direct from distributor. It's not an apple to apple comparison. If you are capable dan DIY, if not, shut up and pay ppl to do the job. Stop whining like a girl and get a reality check. No free lunch in this world.
Ooosh Nov 09 2012 10:27 AM
There was once my fuel guage was not showing the correct amount of fuel. Checked and saw that the problem is due to faulty fuel pump assembly. Workshop offered to order parts which must wait 3 days and including installation is around close to $400.

Was thinking it can't be so expensive so went to distributor and got a stock part for $200. Went back to the same workshop to fix it for labout fees $60 and the total cost is no where near $400.

Really cutthroat prices....unethical
Ooosh Nov 09 2012 10:34 AM
If workshop overhead is expensive, why should consumers bear the extra cost it is not like we never pay labour charges?
Ooosh Nov 09 2012 10:38 AM
If $20-30 dollar difference I can still accept but $100++ ? Sorry that is out of this world.
Macrosszero Nov 09 2012 02:36 PM
Seen in an Australian workshop:

$80/hour for us to fix it.
$120/hour if you want to watch us while we fix it.
$200/hour if we have to fix it after you've attempted to fix it yourself.
Hkapd Nov 09 2012 03:34 PM
Hi Ooosh, I agreed with you, labour charges are there for a reason, I would not mind paying 20-30 more as well for the parts. Thing was, the mechanic told me that the piece of metal was fabricated by the workshop themselves and not an OEM part ordered from supplier which makes the cost of it even more unreasonable.
Auto_emocion Nov 09 2012 04:16 PM

I Suppose there is a spare part that is "AT shift select cable" that comes complete with the rubber boot and "O" hook (to attached to the ball of part 3). These new cables shouldn't cost more than $200. For $240, I feel the workshop should offer u proper spares and not their engineered item.
Hkapd Nov 09 2012 05:42 PM
Hi Auto_emocion, my guess is that the boss of the workshop dares to charge such prices because he would expect that a layman would not know the difference. And yea, I'm close with the mechanic, but not the boss. sigh, haha
Fastfive1 Nov 09 2012 09:31 PM
No offence but there is probably why the mechanic is still close with you.....Probably to get more cash out of you.
As far as I'm concerned, if i can know i can fix the car by myself, i will.
Anyway back to your point about workshops overcharging...
There's a damn good reason why there are unrefined members of society who are rich.
This is cos they own workshops which generate tons of cash for them to enjoy themselves.
CinCin Nov 10 2012 12:50 AM
man..either u gt strong mussle or ur car is china made..
Jamesc Nov 10 2012 01:59 AM
When I setup my workshop, I want Hkapd to be my best customer!

Sdf5725 Nov 10 2012 10:09 AM
Don't just look at the material price. There are workman cost, analysis cost as well. If you only look at the material, do you have any idea how much is the raw material price? They are charging you way more than 100 times.I can bet you
Lammy84 Nov 10 2012 12:48 PM
A bowl of materials for fishball noodles probably costs less than 30 cents, how come you dont complain rip off when u pay 2 bucks for it?
Riceracer Nov 11 2012 02:50 PM
Why don't you open a workshop and charge motorists at your cost price. I'm sure there will be a long queue outside your workshop everyday and we will really thank you for that.
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