How Much are Hourly Mechanic Rates?

In this article we will be looking at the often more confusing concept of per hour labor costs. How much do mechanics charge and what factors may affect this? Generally speaking one of the highest costs on a mechanic's bill is the labor unless of course you are replacing a major part that is very expensive.

How Much Do Mechanics Charge Per Hour?

Unless you have spent your entire life only using one trusted mechanic you may well know that labor costs can vary a lot between different places. On average the hourly rate is between $45 - $170 with a great deal of aspects going into these potential rates.

What Factors Determine Auto Repair Labor Costs?

When we understand the potential factors that may impact the hourly labor rate for mechanics we stand a chance of finding ourselves a bargain for our next repair job. The need to save money is understandable but we must also remember that a higher price often goes along with quality of work.


If you have had the chance to travel around the U.S. it will likely not have escaped your notice that some places are just more expensive than others. In fact where you live can have a big impact on the amount of labor costs when it comes to everything especially mechanics.

Prices may vary state by state and they will also be different in rural and urban areas. A country mechanic for example will likely have lower labor costs than one in a big town or city. Location can increase overhead for the mechanics such as utilities, rent and mortgage payments. These costs pass on to the customer.

Type of Shop

Automotive labor can vary based on the type of work you need doing and what type of technician you need. As an example a place that pretty much does just oil changes will not have high hourly labor costs. This is because they work on rapid turnover so they are usually quick.

More extensive repairs will need a full mechanic shop which carries all the associated overheads which again boosts the price to the customer. If you have a very specific problem that needs a specialist you may be limited as to the places you can choose from. This specialized nature will demand a premium for the work.

Your hourly labor costs may also increase if your mechanic carries certain qualifications. Having attained a higher level of experience and training than the average technician they can charge more for their time.

The truly expensive type of auto shop that can cost you the most though is a car dealership. These mechanics are highly qualified and often are experts in your particular car brand. Work not covered by warranty therefore will be more expensive but expertly done.

Skill Level

There are bargains to be had out there from mechanics who may not be as skilled than others. These could be start up outfits who recently qualified but are yet to develop a reputation. A mechanic who has been in business in the same location for decades and has a lot of loyal customers knows their worth so can charge accordingly.

Opting for less skilled or unproven mechanics will definitely save you money in your repairs but you do carry some risk with this. If repairs are not performed correctly and to a decent standard they may fail sooner and you could find yourself getting a bad job fixed again later.

Vehicle Make/Model

You may be aware that more expensive high end vehicles also often have more expensive parts requirements but this extends to the labor costs as well. Valuable cars or ones that are rarer will need a certain skill level and repairs are often more complicated in general.

Some mechanics may not be able to work on luxury model cars which narrows your options. There are even mechanics who specialize solely in the high end market and wouldn’t even touch a standard car.

It is important to factor in potential repair costs when you get a vehicle because the bigger, more complicated and more expensive models will cost so much more when things break.

How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off by a Mechanic

You hear horror stories of predatory mechanics claiming you need repairs that are not required just to boost their billable work. You also get mechanics who will use used parts and claim they were new. The minority of unscrupulous mechanics make it hard for the rest but they definitely exist.

The best way to avoid these types of mechanics is to do your research on the internet. We have a whole community of former customers out there who may have been duped by a certain location and will be vocal about their experiences.

Try and find the best rated mechanics who have a lot of reviews with most of them being positive. A five star mechanic does not mean much if there are only three reviews so be wary of that.

A great tool to help you avoid being ripped off is an OBD2 scanner. Using this tool you can look for trouble codes in your vehicle's computer. These will tell you roughly what is wrong with certain aspects of your vehicle.

If you have an idea of what is wrong you can inform the mechanic making a point that you used a diagnostic tool. This may deter them from trying to claim other issues exist. If you are ever in doubt about the honesty of your mechanic you should have the right to tell them to stop any further work and get your car to someone else.

Finally and this tip brings no joy to me but sometimes if you are female or perhaps a little older it might be a good idea to bring along a younger male friend or family member to the mechanic. Those technicians looking to rip you off are assuming that females and older individuals are easy targets and don’t know what they are talking about.

This bias and misogyny definitely exists even though today it really should not. The less honest mechanics are less likely to try and scam a younger looking male as they fear they may get caught out.


Labor costs for automotive repair are far from cheap and they can vary greatly. There are several factors that can impact the cost of labor from the make of car to the location of the garage. Ultimately though you are paying for the technician's time and if they are specially qualified they can charge a premium.

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