Auto Repair Labor- Warranty And Book Time

I thought I would write something about how we, as mechanics, get paid and make money. Most of us that are qualified as Journeyman Technicians, get paid by the book hour, or in easier terms, we get paid for each job on each car we work on. I know from the customer’s point of view, all they really see is the labor rate that the shop charges them, which can be pretty high nowadays. Part of the labor charged to the customer goes to the technician repairing the vehicle. The technician will quote the job at a certain amount of ‘hours’ or ‘tenths’.


Let’s say for instance you need a water pump changed. The job might pay two and a half hours of labor time to the technician fixing it. You can also look at it as 2.5 book hours. That is the amount of time it should take for the average mechanic to do that certain repair. Some guys are slower than the allowed time, and some guys are faster than the allowed time.

The way we make money, is to beat the clock on each job. If I could do the above mentioned water pump job that pays 2.5 book hours, in less time than that, let’s say 1.5 hours, then I’m actually making money because I would be getting paid 2.5 hours in 1.5 hours time.

Now, good technicians and mechanics can usually beat the book time on most jobs. And, of course, as we do the same job over and over we get quicker and better at it too. Just like they say, practice makes perfect.


The thing the customers don’t realize, is that if they are told the job is a two and half hour job, and the car gets pulled around in an hour or so, they might feel that they overpaid. This is not the correct way to look at it. They have to understand that they are paying for the expertise and quality of work from a good mechanic.

I have a perfect example of such a situation. A few years back, I had to replace the oil pan gasket on a car and the job paid right around 4 hours. I had done many of these in the past and could knock the job out quickly. I was done with the car in about half the time, and the customer was outraged that they paid for 4 hours of labor when it only took 2. They got an excellent product and result from my experience and qualifications, but were actually unhappy the car was ready so soon. That is just complete nonsense. If I were the customer in that situation, I’d be very happy to be out of the dealership faster than expected!

So, the next time you bring your car in for repair work. Take into consideration all that I’ve talked about here today, and it might make your experience a little better.