• Feb 27, 2010
Akin to other doctor-themed sites like WebMD, the recently-launched AutoMD wants to make you your own health official, this time overseeing the pain-free running of your car. The site's tools include diagnostic assistance, cost estimates, finding a shop, or DIY repairs with pictorial instruction if you're ready to get dirty.

AutoMD's report, called Advocacy for Repair Shop Fairness, attempts to sort out which cities have the most honest auto repairmen. To compile it, mystery shoppers were sent to 600 repair facilities in the top fifty designated markets. Based on quoted prices for a repair, they evaluated the locations based on three criteria: affordability, price disparity, and shop integrity.

Not surprisingly, smaller metro areas such as Memphis, Tennessee and Jacksonville, Florida took the top slots for fairness, while places like Washington, D.C. and Chicago took some of the worst spots. Albuquerque and Honolulu, though, are also where you'll want to exercise robust skepticism upon visiting a repair shop. Follow the jump for the press release on the report, click the link below to check out the full chart, and good luck out there.

[Source: Auto MD]

Show full PR text
PRESS RELEASE

AutoMD.com™ Ranks Best and Worst Cities for Auto Repair

Car Owner Fears About Unfair Repair Shop Quotes Confirmed
Advocacy Report Measures Affordability, Price Disparity Range and Shop Integrity

Carson, CA – February 24, 2010 – AutoMD.com (www.automd.com), the most comprehensive and unbiased free online auto repair resource, today released its Advocacy for Repair Shop Fairness Report, the first to analyze how the top-50 most populated U.S. cities stack up when it comes to providing consumers with fair auto repair cost estimates. In the report, Memphis ranked as the best city for fairness and consistency of prices quoted in auto repair, while Chicago ranked as the worst.

For the report, AutoMD.com mystery shoppers conducted a fairness check of over 600 shops in the top-50 DMAs* (including a range of dealers, independent shops, and franchises like Pep Boys) by requesting quotes on a typical auto repair job: a front brake replacement job for a Ford Focus. To measure pricing integrity, the mystery shoppers called back two weeks later with an industry standard price estimate. The best and worst list was then calculated based on each city's rankings for three critical factors, weighted equally:

1. Repair Affordability: The average cost-per-job for that city based on prices quoted by repair shops
2. Price Disparity Range: The percentage variance between the lowest price quoted and the highest price quoted in each market
3. Shop Integrity Factor: The percentage of shops that shifted their original quoted price by more than 5% when presented with an industry standard price estimate

"If you are one of the 88 - with over two-thirds of the shops overall changing their price quote when presented with an industry standard price."

Underscoring that few car owners are immune to the challenges of repair shop pricing, Evangelist noted that even in Memphis, the report's top ranked city, there was a 135% price quote disparity - with one in four of the city's repair shops tested changing its quote when presented with an industry standard price.

"With such drastic quote fluctuations within each city -- and a chronic lack of integrity in the actual prices quoted -- consumers clearly need to arm themselves with research before setting foot in the repair shop," continued Evangelist. "The bottom line is that information is power; and, fortunately, car owners now have access to online tools so they can compare local repair shops, establish a local market repair invoice price and make sure that they get a fair deal at the repair shop."

* Designated Market Area
**A recent AutoMD.com survey shows that 88 reporting the shop either suggested or charged them for repairs not needed.

About AutoMD
AutoMD.com ™ (www.automd.com), a wholly-owned subsidiary of US Auto Parts Network, Inc., (Nasdaq:PRTS), is the most comprehensive and unbiased free online automotive repair resource designed to empower car owners with the best way to repair their vehicles. Backed by a team of automotive data specialists and certified auto mechanics who are advocates for the car owner, AutoMD.com allows both car owners and DIYers to 1. Diagnose car problems, 2. Know how much auto repairs should cost, 3. Understand the steps needed and the time it should take with How-to Auto Repair guides, and 4. Find the right local auto repair shop at the right price for their issue.

Unlike other repair sites, AutoMD.com does not rely on revenue from repair shops or dealerships, so car owners can rest assured that AutoMD.com repair shop listings are completely unbiased and designed to help car owners choose the best, most affordable shop for their vehicle issue.


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  • 32 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      This could all be fixed if we were to nationalize auto care.
      • 4 Years Ago
      hmm...Red States FTW!
      • 4 Years Ago
      So if a city (Orlando) isn't listed, does that mean they didn't test that city, or that it wasn't ranked in the top 50 (meaning it's much worse than the top 50)?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nice... Living in Chicago puts me at the costliest rate in the nation. This would explain the $125-$150/hour standard labour charges I see posted on the walls at dealerships and independent shops.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I noticed the higher labor rates when I moved to Chicago last month. I compared the labor rates of two Mazda dealerships (Countryside and Downers Grove) and the higher-priced dealership acknowledged that their technicians are unionized.
        • 4 Years Ago
        WOAH.. even in California, i was paying $85-$100/hr .. that's quite a bit.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I just called Pep Boys, $89 per hour, called 4 Chicago area dealers and average is $104 per hour. I don't know where you shop, but I'd like to open up a service center just for you.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Finding a trust worthy mechanic and/or shop is a tough job and usually requires trial and error. Fortunately I found a few around SA, TX that are great and stand behind their work. Both from normal repairs to high end performance for both my Gas and Diesel Trucks.

      I've also had some very bad experiences with others as well. It's a coin flip most of the time.
        • 4 Years Ago
        For sure.. it's a crapshoot :
      Lyla Burns
      • 2 Years Ago
      I live in Austen so I'm glad to see that it's one of the top 5 cities for car repairs. I know that I went to a lube express when I was in Arizona and it was more pricey than the one in Austin. http://www.wasillalubeexpress.com/ I wonder why this is? All I can say is I'm glad it's cheaper where I live :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      One thing I know its not Portland ME on the list they would be below the bottom
      • 4 Years Ago
      While I realize there is always someone some where that over or under charges for the work they do. You all must realize the cost of living in all these places is different, thus the cost of labor is going to be different. You can't expect to pay the same for a house in Hawaii as you do in rural Kentucky therefore the cost of getting stuff done will vary as well.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Smack dab in the middle. It's the way I live my life.
      • 4 Years Ago
      No Seattle in either tables??
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you follow the link, Seattle came in 38th.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I live in Chicago. Luckily I do all the service on my own car.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Notice it's the liberal places, places that really voted for obama, that are the most corrupt? Naturally, Chicago and Washington are the worst. And Austin, a left-wing oasis in the middle of right-wing Texas, is the one place in that state where you should avoid getting your car fixed. Ever been to Austin? It was a laboratory experiment that went horribly wrong. Lots of weirdos call that place home.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Perhaps you did not read the article. It was about honesty in auto repair.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, we all know how honest right-wingers are compared to those nasty liberals. That's why I always take my car to the nearest DeLay Auto Center, or Cheney Car Care.
        • 4 Years Ago
        So high prices to fix your cars = corrupt?

        Is this the critical thinking that led you to adopt "conservative" principals?

        This list simply presents us with the cost to solve an automotive problem. We have no idea what the quality of the work is, thus we don't know whether an inexpensive price is a "good price" or if the high prices are fair prices because the work is so good.

        Perhaps the lurking variable is population density. It's more expensive to live in a city and operate a business in a major city, so the business that's located in a major city must charge more than the business that's located in the not-city (or a rural/suburban city), all other things equal of course. This is because the labor is more expensive and the rent is more expensive. These same cities (or Metropolitan statistical areas) vote democrat.
        (I put conservative in quotation marks because the term been usurped.)
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