“My 2009 Chevrolet HHR had a burned headlight and the dealer charged me $162 to fix it (including $100 for labour). He said it took 80 minutes to fix. When I saw the bill I blew a gasket. Twice in the past I’ve had a headlight changed at a small independent shop and was charged $20 for 15 to 20 minutes of labour. The dealer said this one took longer because of the HHR’s design. Is this true?” —C. McPherson, Pierreonds, Que.
If you’re not sure how long a vehicle repair should actually take, websites such as repairpal.com and automd.com can help. Using a secret underhood camera to time auto repairs, the APA’s investigations have found that in some cases, you can be charged an hour’s labour for just 5 to 15 minutes of work. If the dealer won’t refund your money, you may have more luck negotiating a no-charge visit in the future for a small service like an oil change instead.