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How do I find a reputable mechanic in my area?

Asked by Debbie

I've been told I need an indicator stalk for my Toyota Corolla Ascent 2005 sedan and I’ve been quoted $285 and $222 from two different auto mechanics. The part is only $84.99 so their labour costs for such a simple job are way over the top. Can you help find me a reputable mechanic in my area; Newcastle NSW? I have no headlights nor high beam.

Answered by CarsGuide

29 Feb 2020 David Morley

For a start, where did you get that price for the part? Was it advertised online? Many workshops refuse to use cheap, knock-off (copied) parts from overseas warehouses, so the replacement switch they are proposing to use may easily be more expensive.

I know it sounds like a lot of money, Debbie, but even if that is the price of the switch, here’s roughly how it breaks down. The workshop will usually add a percentage of mark-up on the part involved to cover the cost of ordering it, so let’s say that $84 part will be passed on to you for $100. Then, labour is charged out per hour, and rates can be anything from $75 to $150 (generally speaking, although specialists can charge much, much more than that). But even if we take the middle of those figures and call it $120 per hour, and the job takes one hour, by the time you’ve added the $100 switch, you’re already at $220 and the cheapest of your quotes. And that’s if there are no other little rubber seals, wiring terminals or plastic clips that need to be replaced as part of the job.

Also, consider that to do this job, there’s a fair chance the steering wheel will have to be removed and that’s not as simple as it sounds in a car with an air-bag in the steering wheel. Time is money, but never more so than in a busy workshop. The bottom line is that it those quotes don’t sound like a rip-off at all.

As far as finding a workshop in your area, word of mouth is usually a pretty good indicator in these cases. Ask your friends and family (and anybody else you trust) where they take their cars and be guided on that basis to begin with.

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