Is There a Diagnostic Charge?

By Doug Tees


As an auto shop owner, I feel I must address this issue. The short answer is yes, my shop does charge a diagnostic fee based on the difficulty of the repair. Not only do I charge for diagnosis, but it is a necessity if I am to stay successful in my business.


Why is there a diagnostic charge and what do I get for my money?


Glad you asked.

  1. I am an ASE Master Technician with over 40 years in the business as a diagnostic tech.
  2. I own the top latest updated diagnostic and test equipment the industry has to offer, and I am an expert at using it. Technicians I employ are also experts in what they do.
  3. I have invested in diagnostic software so that I can have access to the latest service information to all makes and models of vehicles.

Therefore, because of the above you get accurate dependable diagnosis of your electronic emissions systems and electrical and mechanical systems on your vehicle.


My shop has to invest on average $3,000.00 per year in diagnostic test equipment. Half of this is in the form of electronic firmware updates for the various pieces of equipment I own. The diagnostic charge pays for my time or my technicians' time it takes to find any particular problem on a vehicle presented to us for repairs. The diagnostic fee also pays for the investment in the expensive diagnostic and electrical equipment necessary to perform accurate work on a given vehicle. Actually, I am amazed that this subject is even an issue. My time has value to it as does anyone who may find themselves reading this.


To expect me or anyone else to perform work and spend time on a vehicle and not charge for the time is something I have always had trouble understanding. Auto mechanics, technicians if you will, are just like anyone else. Here is a quote from a former employer of mine: "We come to work, and we expect to be paid" just like anyone else who holds a job.


The Question You Should be Asking!

Now here is the rub. Diagnostic work has become highly technical and requires someone who is knowledgeable in electrical and electronic systems as well as hydraulic and vacuum systems every modern car has today. It's very important to find a good "diagnostic" technician for electronic repairs. More on this later in this section. In order to spend your hard earned money wisely, my suggestions are:

There is a lot on the internet written about how to go about finding a good technician. I am very annoyed at reading most of it. Most of the articles have one or two good suggestions, but a large percentage of the majority of articles I have read by news people, bloggers, etc. usually go off on some tangent involving putting their own lay person prejudices and opinions making their suggestions almost useless.