8101 Hempstead Road (I-10 at Washington) - Houston, Texas 77008

Don’t Get Stuck in Neutral: Understanding Estimates vs. Diagnostics at Motorcars Ltd.

When you bring your car to Motorcars, you may want to think about the difference between  “estimates” and “diagnostic” charges.  We do not charge for “estimates” but we do charge for “diagnostics”.

Estimates:  A Potential Road Map for Repair

Think of “an estimate” as a road map – it outlines the potential repairs and associated costs that your car may need. It is usually based on the initial symptoms you describe and a visual inspection by a technician. For the repair of a suspected failure, estimates often include:

  • Labor costs: The time a technician is expected to spend fixing your car, typically based on an hourly rate or a flat rate for specific repairs.

  • Parts costs: The estimated price of parts needed to complete the repair.

  • Breakdown of services: A general list of what will be done to address the issue.

Diagnostics:  Identifying What is Actually Wrong

A “diagnostic service” is like a detective’s investigation. The technician uses specialized tools and  expertise to pinpoint the exact cause of your car’s problem. This may involve:

  • Computer scans: Analyzing engine and other control units for fault codes.

  • Test drives: Evaluating the car’s performance on the road.

  • Physical inspections: Examining specific parts of the vehicle.

  • Electrical Inspections: Tracing electrical circuits to identify ground faults, chaffed wiring, burned wires etc.

Good to Know:

  • Estimates are not guarantees. Sometimes a technician will be unable to pin point the problem until actual time is spent “diagnosing” the specific problem. As mechanics delve deeper, they may discover additional problems or actually change the direction of the repair.

  • Diagnostic charges cover the technician’s time spent figuring out what’s actually wrong with your car.

  • Motorcars asks for a 3 hour minimum to cover initial electrical diagnostics or complicated mechanical problems with a “stop and report” at the end of those three hours.

  • The diagnostic fee is separate to the repair cost. Diagnostics are a part of the repair identification process.

  • Keeping You in the Loop. Motorcars will always communicate with you before proceeding with any repairs beyond the initial diagnostics. There may be additional diagnostics needed, but this allows you to make informed decisions based on the initial diagnostic findings.

Remember, “estimates” give you a general idea of repair costs, while “diagnostics” are billable and pinpoint the problem. “Diagnostics” give us a more accurate repair plan and include actual labor costs.


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