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Old 05-14-2002, 11:32 AM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
Pardon me, if as y'all gloat over your good deals, I happen to reflect on the actual meaning.

I am not addressing my attitude to anyone in particular as there are good reasons for everything. I am addressing myself to an attitude that pains me greatly as I read posts. I would avoid them if I could just avoid certain people. That is not the case. These industry bashing comments come in the most technical of posts and I haven't found a way of avoiding them short of non-partisipation.

The fact that someone put moderator under my name doesn't mean I have to totally keep quiet. As much as my technical experience has value so does my industry experience. And unlike industry bashing, I can be avoided.
Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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Old 05-14-2002, 12:13 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Austin, TX (OWA)
Posts: 154

I agree. There are people that simply distrust mechanics and assume they are all the same. Obviously, they are not.

There are also mechanics who distrust certain groups of customers and assume they are all the same.

I would not have thought you were picking me out of the crowd had you not used the "$125" example. That clearly identified me.

I guess I have not seen the bashing in this thread. Mostly just a recount of people's experiences. I have seen it in other parts of the site and agree it is unfortunate. However, both service providers and customers alike have had bad experiences and are going to gripe about it. None of us should take it personally (but we're human - so we will).

Back to orignial question on this thread, what do you charge for the labor portion on the average brake job (including pad, rotor and sensor install and assuming nothing out of the ordinary)? You say $125 is too little. What would you consider appropriate? And, to put it in a regional context, what is your hourly labor rate?

Finally, let's pretend I did not supply my own parts and again return to the original question. Isn't it a fairly straightforward job, assuming you are going to put new rotors on and that is not a variable? And, yes, assuming in my case the brakes worked fine and there were no caliper, master disc or brake line troubles. In my case the back pads were worn, the front rotors warped but I just wanted to do everything at once and not worry about it for a while.


'88 560SL Pearl Black/Java 152K
'94 E320 Anthracite/Grey 89K

'94 E420 Black/Bamboo
'90 300E
'71 280SEL 4.5
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Old 05-14-2002, 02:09 PM
Posts: n/a
it's good to see people be so passionate about their feelings. about jkazzoun's comment about:
---------I agree. There are people that simply distrust mechanics and assume they are all the same. Obviously, they are not. There are also mechanics who distrust certain groups of customers and assume they are all the same."

This boils down to a relationship and trust that is hard to find. When you have a car and are passionate like a lot of us, it's like searching for a soulmate, someone who you can trust and know that will be there through the good times and the arguments. Well that's exactly what I was looking for in a mechanic literally "be there for my car". You want to have that personal relationship

If someone can find that in a local shop, or even got forbid find that at a dealership, then I praise that just as much. Even more, if they feel that the prices they pay are perfectly fine and they don't feel the need to look at another mechanic shop and are content, then I respect that 100%. I feel the need to support the little shop more than a dealership that is bringing in millions a month. My mechanic got sick of the bull**** at the dealership, ripping people off, and . He's not avoiding business costs, he just doesn't have a need for them currently. OH, and did I mention that he doesn't do the "bring in your own parts thing" for customers that walk in the door? It's all about building a relationship with each other and trust, then you work it out amongst each other. This is next to impossible to do at a dealership. A lof of the time I pay him more than he quotes me as I use my judgement on how much I feel is fair.

btw- a good benz tech makes more than $10-15/hr (20-30K /yr). If you own the business and are paying them that much, then couple things are wrong. You don't have enough business and are hurting financially, or they are not getting paid enough per job (assuming they are on a per job basis like most).

After analyzing steve's comments now, I have a better understanding where your coming from. I guess I won't understand fully where your coming from as I'm probably half your age and haven't felt the business pains and ups and downs that you've felt over the years. But the only way we get wiser is to listen to others previous experience and add that to our bank of knowledge. You seem a little bitter with some people's tactics, but there's always other sides of people that isn't conveyed in a simple thread. You ALWAYS see one side of the story and have to assume the rest. Internet stuff is so impersonable, I wish lots of us could meet in person, everything changes when you meet in person and talk face to face.

A couple questions Steve:

1. You own your own shop?
2. How many techs are there?
3. What is your shop labor rate?
4. If you quote someone book rate value of 3 hrs to do a job, and a experienced tech can do it in half that time, are you honest and only actually charge the client 1.5 hrs instead of 3?
5. For question #4, would that question differ if the person was a newbie customer off the street, or a good repeat that has spent a couple grand with the shop?
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Old 05-30-2002, 07:28 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Motor City. MI
Posts: 73
D.I.Y. parts

i'd like to add my 2 cents here. i tried to do a favor for one of my customers...once. it seems no matter how hard you try to work with folks, there's always one who'll turn & bite you in the ass.

its much better in the long run to turn away a questionable job. at least you'll only get bad-mouthed for being uppity.

for the fellow who thinks that @ $90/hr you should wipe his ass, let me say this. I don't know of any 'indy' shop charging that rate. and, even if they did, it would take 16 billed hours per month just to pay the health insurance for our small shop!

in my previous life as a surf shop owner, many would ask the secret to my special method of board repair. i always replied with a request for a check for $100K. they invariably became indignant, but never stopped to think what it cost me to learn that method.

i guess the bottom line is this...if you want to save on the labor cost of repairs, open your own shop. next time you want to save money on your insurance, try asking your agent to fore-go their commission. The entire construct of a working capitalist economy is that i'll pay you for what you do & you'll pay me for what i do.
understand that these cars cost a lot of money to maintain and the cheap way out will usually result in a sub-standard car.
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Old 05-30-2002, 08:01 PM
Posts: n/a
yeah, you should use your judgement on a per job/person basis and decide for yourself.

what do you mean by this comment?
------ for the fellow who thinks that @ $90/hr you should wipe his ass, let me say this

i checked the thread and I'm the only one who made any reference to "$90/hr". I never said that at $90/hr I should wipe anyone's ass. The text was out of context from what a dealer would say if they had to deal with someone who wanted to bring in their own parts.

As for not knowing of any 'indy' shops that charge that much, well i'm sorry, that is not a out of the ordinary rate. Very common, and though I think it's high, I don't mind as people are lining up to pay that amount every single day. The same people who buy their parts there as well and have the whole thing done there. Nothing wrong with that, that goes with your "capitalist economy" concept.

But what's wrong with supporting the little guy? The guy who charges less than the big guys and is like you? that's called competition and charging less than the big fish so you can attract customers, and also subscribes to the "pay me for what I do and I'll pay you for what you do". We still pay the full labor rate, it's just sometimes I get a better deal on parts and save quite a bit. If it's roughly the same price and even 10% more, I'll have him do the whole thing!

--------- understand that these cars cost a lot of money to maintain and the cheap way out will usually result in a sub-standard car.

That is what's wrong with your theory, my way proves that you don't need to subscribe to the "pay ridiculous prices to maintain your benz" theory when there is an alternative to make your TCO a pleasurable experience, and everyone wins.

you CAN pay less money AND have the same quality assuming you know what your doing. I guess my comments are directed to people who know what their doing.
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Old 05-31-2002, 12:27 AM
Mr. BILL's Avatar
Ghoulardi Rules!
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 576
This topic had been debated to death before. But it's always interesting to me to see how consumers see nothing wrong with this idea of supplying your own parts. If nothing else, if I owned a shop, I wouldn't do it because if your brakes failed, you'd be suing the shop for faulty work, when it could possibly be faulty parts. If I faced that possibility, I'd want to supply the parts too, in fact I bet their insurance company requires it.

From the consumer prospective, why worry about saving 10% and get no warranty of service. Personally, I wouldn't spend $400 on labor and not have the tech stand behind his work so I could save $15-20 on parts.

My guess is, the first tech you spoke to didn't want your business for the reasons previously state, or he may have wanted to make sure the parts you wanted to supply were of proper fit and quality.

Fortunately, our free market economy offers options for all of us.

91 300E 120K
90 300SE 275K (sold)
92 BMW 525iM 120K
90 BMW 525iA 175K
85 300D 175K (sold)
84 300SD 245K (sold)
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Old 05-31-2002, 07:18 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Motor City. MI
Posts: 73

the bit about the $90/hr. rate is not out of context inasmuch as it goes directly to the griping so common in the posts here.

how many post can you count where the writer has stated how much he enjoyed paying the dealer rates and what a wonderful experience they had ?... this forum could easily be renamed ''.

most common theme i sense is that for the amount they( shop) charged, i did'nt get my money's worth, or something to that effect.

and forget all this 'trust' crap! if you walk into a shop with a bag full of parts & start to 'shop' the labor rate...what the hell is that?
all this has less to do with 'saving money' than it does with unreasonable expectations. primary among these is the notion that "i can afford to buy this car, but you should'nt".

the one and only good aspect of that loveable old fascist, Henry Ford, was that at least he acknowledged the right of his employees to buy the product they were making.

I re-iterate...If you don't like the cost of your own shop. when the checks start bouncing and the credit card payments get contested and you have to dig into savings to make up the imterim debits to your account, MAYBE, you'll start to get a sense of the true nature of the capital required to keep the doors open. if you're a shop owner and have not factored a myriad of things like this into your business plan, you'll close those doors in short order.
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Old 05-31-2002, 08:32 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: At Sea
Posts: 1,729
Re: NikoE320

Originally posted by autounion

how many post can you count where the writer has stated how much he enjoyed paying the dealer rates and what a wonderful experience they had ?... this forum could easily be renamed ''.

aw come on, that's not fair at all. you should check out any of the other forums before you say that. do a search on the word "stealership" - you get all of 5 hits! do that anywhere else and see how many pages you get. what everyone doesn't understand is that this site thrives because of the techs that are on board. fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you see it, that is also reflected in the "social order". techs are king here and if you don't like it, try and get your answers elsewhere (and i know that some have done so). that is the difference. there is no other place like it.
1993 300e-2.8
- gone now <sigh>
"Do not adjust your mind, it's reality that's malfunctioning"
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Old 05-31-2002, 09:50 AM
Posts: n/a

I agree regarding how invaluable the techs are to this site!!

I am an accountant and am amazed at the time and effort the techs take when providing feedback to posts.

The last thing I want to do at the end of a 14 hour day is talk, type, think accounting.

I really appreciate this site, the techs, and all the people behind the scenes who contribute to the success of this site (the amount of data successfully managed is incredible). Finally, I have only been on this site a short period of time but have already made some great contacts.

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Old 05-31-2002, 10:07 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Nashville, TN
Posts: 551

I'm with you, Jsmith. Trust me, I want to keep the participating techs happy. Actually, I want them to be able to keep doing what it is that made them jump on board in the first place -- their love of MB cars and the enjoyment of problem solving.

I have received invaluable help from stevebfl, mbdoc, gillybenztech, benzmac, and many others. I could not have received that help anywhere else. I'm a tinkerer and a "perfectionist" of sorts and I just want to do it myself. 1) I'm not about to take parts to a tech and expect him to install them [I'll do it myself], and 2) I expect the techs here to tell me when to cut the DIY crap and take it to someone that knows what the heck they are doing.

If I had a Continental Motors or a MB Autowerks in my town I'd probably have them doing a larger percentage of my work -- but I don't so I use their resources that they graciously give out on this board.

Now, here is where I depart just a tad: I, like many others, have a few things on our "repair" list. I'd like to know the "book rate" for this job so I can know the general $ ballpark of the repair. That way, I can make a knowledgeable decision as to whether it fits my budget at the time. I'd much rather know that up front than to take it in, let them go over it and give me the estimate, and then have to decline because it doesn't fit the budget at the time. I feel like I am doing them a small favor by not wasting their time.

CONCLUSION: To the techs out there -- thanks! Thanks, bigtime. We appreciate it in a big way. Hopefully, we can repay your generosity another day in another way. Just a note -- since I bought my Benz in November 01, I have received much info and asked many questions (quit snickering;-) ) I have done about 40% myself, and then the other 60% I had the dealer and one independent shop do.

I love this board. Cheapest does not equal the best. If it did, we'd all be driving Yugos or Hyundais, and my guess is we wouldn't be so enthused at our participation on this forum.

Boy do I feel better!

1994 C280, dark green metallic
105k miles

1991 190E 2.6, Black
191,500 miles
(sold to another forum member)

2003 Chevy Tahoe LT, Redfire Metallic
105k miles

1989 Mustang GT Cobra Convertible
43k miles
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Old 05-31-2002, 11:25 AM
pmizell's Avatar
Benz Zealot
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 838
I may be way off base here but I think the reason for Steve's aversion to the bring-your-own-parts idea is because when it comes to diagnosing and fixing a MB vehicle, he is better than 99% of any other MB mechanic out there, and he knows it.

He is honest, (not saying that any other tech on this board is dishonest) he does not throw parts at problems, as any frequenter of this board certainly knows -- he diagnoses the problem from his extensive experience and through smart, logical thinking. He does the job right the first time, and in this manner he saves customers big bucks.

If I lived in Tampa, my MB would go to him everytime I couldn't DIY. Here in Houston I have found a mechanic that will install customer-supplied parts -- he isn't the best mechanic around, but he's good for small jobs like a brake job that started this post, or other unsophisticated repairs.

Now, if my 300E develops a high idle problem that could be due to multiple sources beyond my expertise, I doubt I could trust this guy to diagnose it properly, in which case I would take it to a Stevebfl-type shop, which I have yet to find here in Houston.

Different strokes for different folks,

Have a great weekend all!


'91 300E, 212K miles
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Old 05-31-2002, 12:10 PM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
You might try Michael Haven at MPH Automotive in Houston. Although he may be one of the ten techs, I refered to at the top of this page, his shop would easily equal mine in capabilities. And I would hate to go head to head against him in any technical test.
Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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Old 05-31-2002, 12:41 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 565
Browsing thru page 3 of 3 of this thread has left me a bit dizzy. People do have opinions as is evidenced here.

Just the same, I have DIYed numerous problems, thanks to the many replies made by Steve Brotherton. If it sounds like I'm suckin' up to the man, so be it.

Steve Brotherton - I cannot thank you enough for all the service you've provided us here. I do not repair cars for a living, but I do understand finding/retaining quality personnel and that ain't done catering to "bottom feeders".
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Old 05-31-2002, 03:12 PM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,315
My perspective is different still.

1. It seems to me that every shop should have a policy on customer-supplied parts, and that policy should be up to them based on their own philosophy and experience;

2. It seems crazy to me to own a fine car like a 560SL and then take it to mechanics who work on NYC taxicabs and can't even be trusted to order brake parts.

Where are you going to go when you have a real problem - you need a relationship with a real shop and you get it by being an honest-to-God customer.
Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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Old 05-31-2002, 04:46 PM
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Join Date: May 2000
Location: Soperton, Ga. USA
Posts: 11,232
When I have a real problem I will go borry my friends engine lift
Ya'll ought to live where MB techs like Steve, Donnie, etc.. are few and far between. In this area there is a dealer and two independents that work on MB's.
On another topic discussing labor and people that are skilled have ya'll tried to find good millwrights that you trust replacing $25,000 bearings on a paper machine lately? It's tough because they are going from outage to outage. Oh yea, I do bring the bearing
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