$175 to replace a driver's side rear-view mirror?
April 1, 2014 8:47 PM   Subscribe

I've been going to a repair shop here in LA for a while that I found through the Car Talk fora, but have been increasingly unhappy with them. I took my girlfriend's 2002 Ford Focus in to get an estimate on replacing the mirror, and got back a quote of $175ish, $100 for the part and $75 for the labor (meaning, an hour and a quarter for them at $60 per hour). The thing is, there are third-party mirrors for about $30, and from doing the same thing on a car years ago, I remember it taking about 20 minutes with the right tools. Are they trying to rip me off? Is this a reasonable ballpark for what seems like pretty minor work (the whole assembly pops on and off)? I don't have the tools to do this now (I'd need a deeper socket), so should I buy the part and take it to them? Are dealer mirrors really that superior? (It's out of warranty by now, obviously.) Should I take it to someone else?

I've been unhappy with the work they've done with the brakes, which are still knocking a month after the new drums and shoes were machined, and my girlfriend says they've been condescending and dismissive to her when she's in there.
posted by klangklangston to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total)
Well, on the mirror, they may actually be putting an OEM part on - and $100 sounds kinda cheap for an OEM mirror. Hour and a quarter? Eh, that may be a little steep; however some cars are really tough to fix what are easy on most other cars. Depending on the application, yeah, the OEM mirror can really shine above an aftermarket part. On other applications, it doesn't matter. On my pickup truck, the CertaFit mirror is $40 and lasts a year or two, vibrating all the time. The Chevy part is $150 and I'd use it in a heartbeat if it weren't for my predilection for having mirrors smacked off.

Buying the parts yourself is a really good way to piss off a mechanic. Since they're already on your shit list, by all means go ahead.

New drums...machined? They should be pretty great right out of the box.
posted by notsnot at 8:56 PM on April 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Don't discount the quality of an aftermarket mirror. I replaced the passenger side view mirror of my previous car last year. I was able to buy the part from Pep Boys and installed it in under an hour. Mine was a bit difficult because I had to take apart part of the interior door to access the panel on the door frame. But YMMV. Just be careful to get the appropriate mirror assembly if your mirrors are controlled manually or electronically.

A Haynes Manual is a handy resource you can buy for $25 because it provides an illustrated, and easy to follow, guide to doing car repairs. Once again, either your local auto parts store or library would have these books.

Good luck!
posted by royals at 9:08 PM on April 1, 2014

$175 isn't outrageous, but you can save some money by doing it yourself.

I replaced a 2006 Corolla mirror a while ago. The dealer quote was $300 for parts and labor, but I was able to buy a $130 OEM replacement part from a different Toyota dealer. Installation was easy, and I'm not especially mechanically inclined. In my case, the third-party part also cost $30, but only came in black, which would have looked funny.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:13 PM on April 1, 2014

As a non-mechanic who has owned several old clunkers, I will disagree with the above. $175 for a mirror on a 2002 vehicle is absurd. $175 for a "good" mirror with the proper workmanship is something you (maybe) do on a new-ish car that you consider an investment. On an old car, the only things I personally invest in are the things that are likely to kill me on the freeway - like brakes. Dents, dings, rattling mirrors that might possibly not match? Who cares. This is a Ford, not a BMW.
posted by celtalitha at 11:04 PM on April 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Also, if you don't want to do it yourself or buy the tools, this is why hole-in-the-wall cheapo shops exist. You don't want to get your engine repaired there, but having a mirror screwed on while you watch? I would do that in a second.
posted by celtalitha at 11:16 PM on April 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

have you guys been to hovson right near you? they were amazingly nice I did not feel dicked over when I took my former car there.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:38 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, don't be surprised if they won't install your parts. My little town has a half-dozen storefront car repair businesses [two dealers, one franchise, one gas station, two small shops]. Only one will install parts I've purchased.

On doing it yourself, surely buying that one socket will be cheaper than taking it to nearly any garage? Around here, pawn shops sell loose sockets for around 50 cents. A buck if you want Craftsman.
posted by chazlarson at 12:21 AM on April 2, 2014

A deeper socket will be under $10. Google for the service manual and have a look at how involved it is.

Are you specifically opposed to doing it yourself? You say you've done it before on another car. I'd say just buy the part and put it on, especially for something this simple. Their quote doesn't sound ridiculous, but it's also in the price range where i'd rather just do it myself.
posted by emptythought at 12:29 AM on April 2, 2014

Your repair shop should be able to order a used mirror (with similar paint and in good condition) from a pick-n-pull yard. It'll be original equipment and save you money. Or, DIY.
posted by artdrectr at 12:49 AM on April 2, 2014

and my girlfriend says they've been condescending and dismissive to her when she's in there.

This is why you should never go back, even if they did great work. That they charge too much and do shitty work is just icing on the cake.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:32 AM on April 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

Some people are complaining about the absurdity of $175 for the part and labor... As for the VALUE which seems to be there issues I cannot say, that's for you... But the price seems in line for me. As for the time estimate, there could be painting to match, or whether stripping etc etc but that's less than I have experienced on several occasions.

As for being unhappy with the garage, who cares what the price is???? Why go to garage you have had bad experiences with? Find a new garage through forums or yelp or Angie's list and get a new quote. Don't reward bad behavior!
posted by chasles at 4:50 AM on April 2, 2014

Keep in mind that they may have to paint the new mirror to match the car. Do you know if this is the case? If so then $175 is not a bad price for any car.
posted by eatcake at 5:13 AM on April 2, 2014

Depends on the mirror.... is this a really simple mirror assembly, with no cable hookup to adjust it from inside the car (it's adjustable only if you stick your hand outside the car and physically move the mirror around) and/or does it have built-in turn signals (unlikely on an '02 Focus)?

But either way, yeah, stop using this place. Between unacceptable work on brakes (it's kinda important those be installed right!) and that "condescending and dismissive" attitude towards the car owner, I'd drop these jerks immediately. These people may not be ripping you off, but they also do not deserve one more penny of your money.
posted by easily confused at 5:13 AM on April 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you don't like the mechanic, find another. Why would you continue to do business with people you're not comfortable with?

Also, have you tried an auto parts place like Pep Boys? They do work on site and their prices may be different.

Also, for grins, take it to the dealer and see what they charge.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:20 AM on April 2, 2014

$175 for a mirror replacement is perfectly reasonable if they are using a OEM or OEM quality part. You CAN get cheap shitty mirrors for less than that, but I'd not fit them if I was running a repair shop, that's for sure.

Incidentally, $60 an hour labour rate is really cheap for the area I am in. Any shop that I'd actually go to is $90+ an hour, dealers are $110-140.

Also, 90 minutes will be the 'book time' for the replacement according to the manual they have. Part of the profit margin in a repair shop is being able to beat the book time. But consider that 90 minutes includes getting the car in the shop and parking it in the repair bay, not just the time the guy first touches the door to when the mirror is actually on. It's the full length of time the car is in the shop, which makes 90 minutes also pretty reasonable.

Now, you can always do this yourself and it may be well within your capabilities, but THAT is the real question: Can you do the job? Can you be bothered to do the job? If both answers is yes, then why are you even considering the repair shop price?

If either answer is no, then it's not an unreasonable cost, to me.
posted by Brockles at 5:48 AM on April 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

$175 for a mirror sounds cheap. I spent about $400 getting one replaced at a dealership.
posted by radioamy at 7:28 AM on April 2, 2014

With this car, the type of mirror comes into play. In 2002 the Focus had a plain outside mirror or could have a folding/heated mirror. The non folding standard mirror could be had for under $30 but the heated/folding mirror is upwards of $85. Add on 10% markup for the shop and you are pretty close to the $100. After watching a video on how to replace the mirror, 1 hour seems too long. The video was 4 minutes long and they took out and reinstalled the driver's mirror. However, some garages charge for the time with your car, not just the work itself. Mechanics have to account for all there time. Count in time to bring the car into the shop, replace mirror and drive the car out. That all said, if I have had a bad experience at a shop, I would find another shop to make the repairs. Also, it would never hurt to get a second quote for the repairs. It's my money and I want the best bang for my buck.
posted by BostonCannuck at 7:45 AM on April 2, 2014

I can't comment directly on the price of the mirror or the fix, but - if you want to buy the part yourself but don't want to do the install yourself (don't have the tools, don't have the time, etc), you can easily find someone to do it for you on the cheap by checking the postings on craigslist.
posted by vignettist at 8:06 AM on April 2, 2014

Response by poster: Just to answer a handful of questions: It's not heated or folding, there's no paint or trim to match, it's popping off a plastic panel on the inside of the car, removing a bolt and a screw, taking off the old mirror, putting a new one on and pulling through the cable, snapping the cable to the connector, replacing the bolt and screw, then snapping the plastic panel back on.

I did it years ago on my old Tercel, though that wasn't a powered mirror, but the only difference seems to be pulling the cable through and snapping it together.

These guys did great work when I first started going there, but it seems to have declined enough that them being super close to my house is no longer worth the hassle, at least without calling around. The prices have crept up, and now too many repairs require another round of taking the car in and having them charge me for something they should have caught the first time.

This is one of the very few things I miss about the West Side: Piechowski Auto was phenomenal about catching problems, giving competitive estimates and then routinely beating them. But I can't justify an hour's drive just to get to the mechanic.
posted by klangklangston at 8:35 AM on April 2, 2014

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