Shop Supplies and Waste Disposal Fees

In the old days, any extra expenses incurred by the auto repair shop while fixing your car were considered a part of doing business. Today these extra charges are commonly broken out of the repair estimate and tacked onto the bill as a separate fee. Here we’ll explore some of the things that are included in these miscellaneous shop supply and waste disposal charges.

Waste Disposal from Oil Changes

It’s interesting that the most common and least expensive maintenance operation incurs some of the most valid and costly waste disposal fees and shop supplies. It’s the main reason that auto repair shops will view this a lost leader. The business might consider itself lucky if they break even on this service. Used engine oil is often collected and removed by the same company that supplies the shop with fresh lubricants.

The charges on this vary and some suppliers will actually perform the service at no charge for large volume customers. It ‘s possible for the waste oil to be cleaned and recycled to be burned in specialized heating systems that have methods of reducing emissions. The other variable cost to the business is disposal of the oil filter. Standard procedure is for the shop to let the filter drain out for at least twenty-four hours and then crush it to reduce its size. Disposal fees total about 2-3 dollars if not included in the price.

Shop Supplies from Oil Changes

If the car has sealed grease fittings (many do) and everything goes well with the oil change, the shops investment in miscellaneous supplies is extremely small. For the most part a single rag and maybe some cleaner will be utilized to tidy up the mess left by unscrewing the old filter. Of course when things go bad and oil spilled on the floor the mechanic will be using some form of oil dry product to properly contain and remove the spill. This oil soaked material will have to be handled as a hazardous waste. If shop supplies are not included in the total price of the service they usually run a dollar or two.

Disposal of Hazardous Liquids

The automobile contains many hazardous liquids including engine coolant, transmission fluids, freon and brake fluid. Some retail auto service centers will purchase recycling machines that can reduce the amount of fluid disposed of. These machines can cost around four or $5000. In many cases companies that come and remove the hazardous liquids will ask the shop to separate brake fluid and coolant in different containers from the engine oil collected.

In addition to all of the fluids that circulate in the automobile there are also chemicals used by the repair center to clean parts. These cleaners are often specialized by the task and can vary greatly in contents or ingredients. As an example brake cleaner used to remove brake dust before new parts are installed often contains chlorinated hydrocarbons which have been identified as especially hazardous and requires separate handling from the other fluids mentioned.

Evaluating Shop Supplies and Disposal Charges

For retail auto service consumers it’s a good idea to examine the original estimate and see if shop supplies are included as they are often neglected. It is equally important to review the charges line by line before paying the bill to determine if the shop supplies and disposal fees are reasonable and customary. When fluids are being replaced or chemicals are being used the shop has the right to ask for reimbursement for the charges they incur.

Where the problem comes in, is if the repair center uses a flat fee or a percentage of the total as an automatic disposal and supplies charge. Although this may be shop policy customers should negotiate if no disposal service or supplies were used in repairing the vehicle. This can be operation specific. As an example, if you’re having an alternator replaced the miscellaneous charges should be extremely small. This operation doesn’t require any recycling as the part is returned as a core to the parts supplier to be rebuilt and resold.

When it comes to replacing the alternator, shop supplies are also something that is not required for the job. In contrast, if you’re having a water pump replaced then this operation should have some miscellaneous disposal and shop supply fees. The engine coolant will have to be recycled and replaced with fresh antifreeze. It’s possible for the business to use silicone sealers, rags, razor blades, cleaning disks and chemicals to properly prepare the surface to accept the new parts.

At the beginning of the article I mentioned that in the old days any small charges were considered the cost of doing business as the shops would absorb these. In the defense of the auto repair industry, expenses have greatly increased with the additional rules, regulations and legislation in terms of waste disposal and what is required by the shop.

Since the auto repair center can be held liable for what happens to these hazardous materials, they have to make sure disposal is handled properly. In a service that has very little profit margin customers should be charged something. It will be up to the consumer to make sure what they pay is reasonable and customary for the provided services.