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Honolulu pricey for car repairs


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POSTED: Thursday, February 25, 2010

Honolulu is the second-worst city for automobile repair prices out of 50 cities surveyed by AutoMD.com.

About 20 repair shops were looked at in each city, said AutoMD.com President Shane Evangelist. The survey results, which were released yesterday, included dealers, independent shops and franchises.

But longtime auto repair shop owner Frank Young, who owns K&Y Auto Service in Honolulu, disputes the survey's findings, saying that in his experience he has seen higher prices on the mainland.

"It'd be interesting to see what other data their study was based on, and who they actually called," said Young, a 40-year local veteran whose shop has been in business since 1953.

The report was measured by requesting price quotes on a front brake replacement job for a Ford Focus. To measure pricing, the anonymous shoppers for AutoMD.com called back two weeks later with an industry standard price estimate.

Three factors for the rankings were repair affordability, price disparity range and the percentage of shops that shifted their original quoted price by more than 5 percent when presented with the standard estimate.

               

     

 

FAIR REPAIRS

        The best and worst cities for auto repair:
       

Best
        1. Memphis, Tenn.
        2. Jacksonville, Fla.
        3. Omaha, Neb.
        4. San Antonio
        5. Austin, Texas

       

Worst
        46. Raleigh, N.C.
        47. Washington, D.C.
        48. Albuquerque, N.M.
        49. Honolulu
        50. Chicago

       

Source: AutoMD.com

       

 

       

Honolulu's highest price quoted was $545, and the lowest was $151. There was a 262 percent price disparity, and 75 percent of the shops called shifted their pricing.

"That's a pretty big range," said Evangelist, from Carson, Calif. "Make sure you call around a bit, check the rates and find out what parts they're using so they're not overbilling you."

Evangelist said the report was meant to remind car owners to be more informed about their vehicles. There are tools online to check price quotes for repairs.

"The buyer knows less than the seller in this environment," Evangelist said. "Present yourself as more knowledgeable."

Throughout the state, auto repair and service currently ranks 23rd out of 2,062 in industries with the most complaints, according to Hawaii's Better Business Bureau. That number represents 26 complaints to the bureau last year.

However, the most common complaint was not about pricing, but allegations that the repair or service resulted in additional damage, said Hawaii's BBB communications director Angela Ellenwood.

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs reported yesterday that it had not seen an unusual number of complaints regarding auto repair, although no statistics were immediately available.

Young said charging high prices isn't a practice that goes very far on Oahu.

"For one thing, we live on an island," Young said. "If you're gonna be overcharging people and have these huge price disparities, you're not going to be in business for very long."

Young said mainland price quotes can be much higher. His son needed work on a Jeep Cherokee's brakes and was given a quote of about $900.

"In the mainland, you have more transient customers than you would in Hawaii," Young said. "The chances of repeat business is even stronger. We go from generation to generation with customers."