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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi everyone. Purchased a 2003 ZX3 with a manual transmission almost 3 years ago. The car had been sitting on a repair shop's lot for awhile, so it had a number of issues when I first purchased it, but the shop fixed them all for free.

After moving to a new location and being almost totally free of maintenance issues, I've finally run into some problems and so needed to find a new shop. My problem is that I, like a lot of other folks, just don't trust mechanics because I hear so many horror stories. I feel bad for the guys.

Anyway, I'm hoping you guys can tell me roughly how much my repairs should cost, so I have so idea if these guys are ripping me off or not.

First set of repairs (I believe all the parts were supposedly OEM):
  • New side & dog bone engine mounts
  • New spark plugs, spark plug wires, and coil
  • New Headway HH301 A/S 40K tires (I'm pretty sure I got a good deal on these)

Second set of repairs (again, supposedly all OEM parts):
  • New backup light switch (no labor charged)
  • New right & left front sway bar links
  • New left front bearing
  • Transmission fluid replacement

Also, any thoughts on OEM parts vs. generic parts I could buy at a auto parts store?

Thanks for your help.
 

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Do you have any quotes from the shop yet? It might be easier for us to determine whether or not you're being ripped off if you have actual prices for this work beforehand that we can look at.

The side and dogbone engine mounts are easy as cake as well as the spark plugs, wires, and coil. I would strongly recommend you do those yourself as well as the front sway bar end links. All those parts are quite easy to replace with just standard hand tools.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your response.

I know some of those repairs are not very hard, but don't currently have many tools and don't mind paying someone to do the work as long as I know they aren't ripping me off. Unfortunately, even if they aren't overcharging me I don't necessarily know that all the repairs are necessary (I haven't noticed anything going on in the left front of my car that would indicate the bearing is going out, for example).

I do have prices, but I don't have the itemized list available to me right now. I remverything in the first list of repairs is about $1140. I'll try to get the itemized list for you soon.

The back up light switch (OEM) was $101 for just the part. The rest is $712 total. I believe the right & left sway bar links with labor came out to $216, the transmission fluid change was about $170, and the rest ($326) must have been for the bearing. I'm not 100% sure on the breakdown, but the total is correct.
 

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The prices are why most of us ended up with tools & talking about how to fix things.

Those sway bar links for example are a cheap job IF you don't use Ford original parts at shop prices plus labor. About $40 for the parts at AutoZone pricing for something that works. The shop price actually sounds typical for that job.

When I started out fixing things it was often a calculation whether I could buy the tools & do it for the price it would cost to have it done, and if the tools weren't a one use item it paid in the long run to do it & have the tools for another day.

I don't begrudge shop rates, even though the hourly sounds high. I've seen by working in different ones just how expensive an hour of shop time can be to the business before making anything on it. (not even counting trying to do my own)

OEM parts won't be avail. for everything, and the shop price is higher than you'd pay yourself. BUT, that includes a warranty on the job while if YOU source the parts & there is a problem you pay for the extra work or redoing it if needed.

Shop sourced comes with that warranty, so if there is a problem THEY eat the repeat job expenses. That's one reason they seldom use the cheapest, and you do pay for their work sourcing them.

If there is a question on what work is needed, don't be afraid to ask why it's recommended! Better to ask than wonder, no stupid questions when you don't know why something has been suggested.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the advice. I do ask, but the problem is that they could tell me something that isn't true and I probably wouldn't know the difference. I guess I should have asked to see the loose bearing. I also want to start doing some of my own repairs, but I'll probably wait until I get a bigger place and have more money to buy some decent tools.

Sounds like you go for the cheaper generic parts. Good to hear. Those parts typically come with warrantees from the store anyway right? So if you are doing the repair yourself and the part fails you'd only be out your time.

Is a 2-year, 24k mile warrantee typical for shop repairs, or does that vary a lot?
 

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Varies a lot, that would be an excellent one.

Prefer the best pieces, but sometimes it doesn't matter as much. Those links are easy to replace & yes the cheap ones have a good warranty. The lighter Ford ones are nice, MOOG replacements have the best rep. but are also the same design/weight as the cheap ones.

You can go cheaper as you mention when it fits the application and any problems aren't a big deal. Sometimes the cheap source is the same part, the AZ branded (duralast)clutch master cyl. I looked at & bought was the factory brand inside the packaging.

NAPA brakes come in three levels, for a DD I might get the middle or highest grade rotors (top ones are N/A made) while using the cheap semi-metallic pads for best initial bite in low speed driving. Those can be replaced twice for each set of rotors usually, where the long wearing hard pads are more likely to squeal & chew up rotors so by the time you need replacements everything needs to be done. Calipers that never move are more likely to freeze up & need rebuild/replacement as well.

Special case to fit circumstances, if a lot of hard braking was expected another choice in pads would be better.

Just threw out examples to show each circumstance gives a different set of choices for what's "best'.
 

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That is an expensive quote.
 

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Yes, but where you go when you decide firmly to let others do the work. You have put control into the hands of others.

'the problem is that they could tell me something that isn't true and I probably wouldn't know the difference.'

400 million other people have the same problem, all you can do is match prices to other mechs and go with what your gut tells you. The only way you will TRULY shortchange that action is by doing the work yourself. Us telling you price too high or low is the same as going to another mech. We will always be feeling price is generally too high because we know how much WE can do it for. That's not reality for you.

Make sure if the passenger side engine mount gets changed it is a Ford only part, the rest can be aftermarket but if wheel bearing is what you mean by bearing then by all means use a world class bearing (Timken, FMC, SKF, Fafnir, BCA) rather than a cheap Chinese one which will often have you doing the job over again fairly shortly.
 

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To bust out those mounts you'd need jack n least 2 stands. You got any friends with tools? That's if they lend them to you haha.
Luckily for me now I get cheap labor prices. Like 300 bucks for a clutch job from a reputable shop. Lowest was 250 but that's just a shade tree mechanic... shop around, people hungry for work will work out a deal.
 

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Easy enough to check parts prices online at RockAuto or similar. Now, assume the shop is going to charge more than those prices because they need to make a profit...35% markup is probably close. That only works for aftermarket parts; OEM stuff is sometimes priced way higher. Example: Mk1 coolant reservoir is around $78 from Ford; aftermarket is half that. Ford OEM is generally better but then there are parts like the sway bar end links (junk)...a/m on my car are metal and have grease fittings so should last the life of the car now. Same with the power window regulators. FoMoCo may be better but is it 2x better for 2x the price? Often not.
 
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