Whether your car suddenly quit on you or if you're looking at a planned repair, you're probably wondering exactly how much your trip to the mechanic is going to cost you. According to recent data from Audatex, the average cost of an auto repair, with parts and labor included, comes out to $2588.36.

With costs like these, it's no wonder that many people want to know exactly where their dollars go when it comes to a typical auto repair. The following shows you what you can expect on your repair bill, so you won't go into sticker shock when you finally see it.

Parts and Supplies

The cost of parts and supplies usually varies depending on a variety of factors, including the part's complexity, availability and where the mechanic sources the parts in question.

It's not out of the ordinary to pay a bit more for parts found by your mechanic. However, keep in mind that your mechanic often has a larger pool of suppliers to source parts from – a definite advantage when it comes to hard-to-find parts. You're also paying for convenience, since you don't have to actively look through your local auto parts shop for the parts in question. Last but not least, the added cost may also go toward warranties that cover parts installation.

The quality of the parts used in your vehicle repair can also affect your final bill:

  • Some shops only use parts produced by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), since these parts are usually the highest-quality ones available and offer an exact fit for the vehicles they were made for. This not only makes it easier for mechanics to make repairs, but the repairs themselves may also be longer-lasting.
  • Other shops use aftermarket parts, some of which meet or even exceed the quality of the OEM parts. Aftermarket parts are usually less expensive than OEM, allowing shops that use them to reduce their costs and even pass those savings on to their customers.

Minor supplies like shop towels, cleaning products and other miscellaneous items used during the repair may also end up on your bill, usually under "supplies."

Labor Rates

While the cost of parts and supplies can add a significant amount of money to your auto repair bill, it's the cost of labor that makes up the bulk of the bill. Most mechanics set hourly rates for repairs. These rates can range from under $80 per hour to $100 per hour or more. For example, a shop that charges a $90/hour labor rate will charge you $360 for a repair that takes 4 hours to finish.

Other mechanics may charge a "flat rate" – a single fee – for the repair. The advantage to being charged a flat fee is that a repair that takes longer than expected won't cost you more money than you've expected to pay. On the other hand, if the repair takes much less time than expected to complete, you're still on the hook for the entire flat rate.

Most flat rates are decided based on the repair's "book time" or the amount of time needed to make the repair, as stated by the manufacturer or in professional service manuals. Many experienced mechanics can beat the book time, while less-experienced mechanics are given more leeway in regards to repair completion.

Miscellaneous Costs

In addition to the cost of parts and labor, your auto repair shop may also include other fees to cover certain overhead expenses. These fees may include the cost of sourcing and maintaining the tools and mechanical equipment used to repair your car, maintenance and upkeep for electronic diagnostic equipment, waste disposal and even electricity for the entire shop.

These costs are all factored into the final amount for your repair bill. By understanding what exactly goes into the cost of your auto repairs, you won't run into any surprises. For more information, contact a professional service, such as Soundside Automotive, and ask them about their current rates.