Rising Cost of Auto Repairs Linked to Expensive Parts

I recently had to have a new fuel pump installed in my car. It was sputtering a lot when it ran and was really hard to start. I remember back in the day that replacing a car’s fuel pump was pretty straightforward.

It was a little mechanical pump that ran off the vacuum of the engine. It was usually somewhere near the carburetor underneath the hood. Now they put the darn things inside the fuel tank for some reason.

This requires the tank to be taken off, the gasoline drained out, a new pump and filters put in the tank and then the tank needs to be re-attached. That brings the total cost to over $300. And you have to take it to a repair shop to have it done.

I used to have an uncle who was a good backyard mechanic, but he passed away years ago. Then I had a neighbor who owned a repair shop and he would give me a break on the labor, but he’s since moved away.

So now I have to go to a dealer (gasp) or seek out a local repair shop that won’t try to take me to the bank. I have a shop just about a block away from my house so I decided to go there.

At least I could walk back home while the car was being repaired. But it wouldn’t start so I had to call a tow truck. In the past I knew several people with old pickup trucks who would have tied the thing to their trailer hutch and pulled the thing up there for free, but now I don’t. So I called a towing service.

They ended up charging me $60 to tow it one block. (I knew I should have joined that auto club.)

The guy at the repair shop told me that it would be cheaper if I got the part. There was an Auto Zone right across the street from the shop, so I opted to do that. The fuel pump cost $84.

I walked back to the shop and handed it to the mechanic and then went home. The next day they called and said that the car was ready. I drove it home and it ran just fine. The very next morning it wouldn’t start. Another $60 to get it towed back up to the shop.

Later that afternoon they called and said that the new fuel pump was defective and that I needed not only a fuel pump, but the whole “assembly” also. That cost $212. Why they didn’t tell me in the first place I have no idea.

They put that in and it turns out that is defective also. Finally, after a trip to a Chevrolet dealer to get a “genuine GM part” the car runs fine. The shop wanted to charge me two times for the labor to install the pump, so I had to haggle with Auto Zone, and after much discussion, they agreed to pay for the labor on the second repair.

Not only is the price of gasoline at the highest it’s been in history, the price of repairing a car is rising also. The main factor in this is the rising cost of auto parts.

If you bought all of the parts separately and built a new car yourself it would cost way more than the car costs new. In the chain that the part goes through to get to the shop or a retail store there are several markups. There is a wholesale price, a distributor price, and then the retailer or shop adds an additional markup.

According to a recent story in the Tennessean, steel prices for cars is the highest that it’s been in eight years. And one of the hot items for thieves now are catalytic converters. They are literally cutting them off of automobiles to get to the precious metals inside.

A good thief can cut one off in under five minutes. Catalytic converters contain a combination of platinum, palladium, and rhodium, all three metals have seen significant price increases in the past year. The price of platinum is currently $1,118 an ounce. Compare that to gold at $625 an ounce. Expect to pay from $400 to $2,000 for a new catalytic converter.

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