What should it cost to replace 306 thermostat?
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  1. #1
    IWS
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    Default What should it cost to replace 306 thermostat?

    My daughter took her 306 to have faulty thermostat replaced (after RACV had diagnosed problem). Took the car to our regular garage - who work with French cars regularly. Seemed like a simple job to me but she was charged $141.

    Seems a lot to me. Thermostat say $40 ? Labour?
    Cannot be that hard or long a job to do? (When I used to work on my cars I changed thermostats often - the 404s were always overheating! - and it took 5 minutes).

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    Am I justified in goind to ask them why $140?

    Ian

  2. #2
    1000+ Posts pgti6's Avatar
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    They would have needed to re-bleed the cooling system after the thermo change. Was there a charge for coolant on the invoice?
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    Demannu-facturing! Demannu's Avatar
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    It is in fact only a 5 minute job (easier than a 404, because you don't have to wrestle it out of a hose!).

    However, many workshops will charge for a 1 hour minimum of labour, and they probably also charged for some coolant (despite the fact that you shouldn't lose more than a cup or so changing the thermostat on a 306).

    Any work at a mechanic is expensive these days, and it is simply because the demand for repair work is no longer there. Combine the facts that cars are more reliable than ever before with the increased 'throwaway society' attitude that we have and people are getting less mechanical repairs done.

    You cannot run a business on servicing cars alone, as competition for this element is cut-throat. To survive, prices need to be higher.

    $100 per hour seems to be a starting price for mechanics now. When I sold my workshop we were the cheapest in town, charging $77ph and employing only fully qualified mechanics. You just can't exist like that anymore.
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  4. #4
    IWS
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    They did not provide a detailed invoice - which is unusual as that is what I normally get - so I have no breakdown of parts, coolant bleeding etc. Invoice just says "supply & fit new thermostat and o ring" - no mention of bleeding etc.

    And charging a full hour - $100 - for five/ten minutes work seems a bit rich, especially as I'm a good customer of theirs.

    I do wonder if - because my daughter took the car in not me - they have been sloppy in the billing and charging. If so that will be dissapointing.

    I am going to have a chat with them so will see what they have to say...
    Thanks all for your comments- helpful for the (polite) discussion that I'll have with the workshop.

    Ian.

  5. #5
    1000+ Posts schlitzaugen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IWS View Post
    My daughter took her 306 to have faulty thermostat replaced (after RACV had diagnosed problem). Took the car to our regular garage - who work with French cars regularly. Seemed like a simple job to me but she was charged $141.

    Seems a lot to me. Thermostat say $40 ? Labour?
    Cannot be that hard or long a job to do? (When I used to work on my cars I changed thermostats often - the 404s were always overheating! - and it took 5 minutes).

    Am I justified in goind to ask them why $140?

    Ian
    You're lucky.

    Sounds a bit much for such a simple job, but as the others have already said, it is not the difficulty of operation, it is the feasibility of running a bussiness that controls the price. I do not agree the demand for repairs has waned, but I don't really have any proof about that.

    What I can tell you though is that i had a job estimated at 70$ and ended up paying 400$ to save myself a stroke. It was an R12 which needed a brake pipe replaced and I just didn't have the time to do it, so took the car to one of those franchises (which I will never use or recommend to anyone ever). Explained them the job, told them that if they found it difficult I had the spare bits needed, including the pipes and they said 70$. In the end what they did was re-manufacture the pipes (don't know why, and they couldn't explain, apart from saying they used stainless steel pipe which is immortal) and then found the fittings on the R12 were metric (they had used imperial) and had to order the pipes made elsewhere again with metric fittings. Okay. That explains 200$ worth of pipework I didn't need (I offerred them the respective pipes already - see above - but nevermind). Then they bled the brakes, but not knowing they had to have the car on the ground on its own wheels, they bled them in the air and ofcourse, the rear limiter didn't work, so they burst the flexible hose (which again I had brand new in my spares collection), so they sent that one to another company to make a new one, metric fittings, yadda, yadda, and then they stuffed around with the banjo bolt that connects the pipes to the flexible hose (metric fittings, yadda, yadda). So two days later (for a job that would have taken me 30 minutes to do) I had the car back and a 400$ bill to pay for, after I had to pay another 140$ in taxi fares. When confronted with that, I asked why did they do all that given that I explained them what they had to do, I explained them how to bleed the brakes (they said the hose burst because it was old, I knew it wasn't and asked to see the old hose, they didn't have it anymore) thought I would sue these guys to high heaven, and then felt my blood pressure drop and almost fell down, so I thought I better pay and put it to experience or end up in the ER.

    There you go. My suggestion is next time you do the job yourself so at least you know what it is like. Have the spares on hand if you want to take the car to the mechanic and give them the parts. Tell them what to do and how, and have them write down how much it is going to cost and what for. Explain the other parts they will interfere with are good/new/whatever, and they should not damage them or throw them away (I had an idiot want me to pay for an air filter for my wife's Mi16 to replace her K&N filter which was perfect. I bet he was going to sell it to the next customer as performance part. Had him fish it out from where he stashed it away).

    Or just find a mechanic you trust and stick with them. By the way, your guy doesn't seem to have taken you for a ride from what you say, so it may be a keeper.
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  6. #6
    1000+ Posts jo proffi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schlitzaugen View Post
    There you go. My suggestion is next time you do the job yourself so at least you know what it is like.
    And when you do so, I bet it doesn't take five minutes.
    maybe I'm slow, but it would take me 5 minutes to grab the keys, move the car into a bay, lift the bonnet, check the coolant level, close the bonnet and re park the car in the carpark.

    I think $140 is a perfectly fair price as long as they did actually did a good job and there are no leaks or anything else to complain about.

    IF it were me doing the job for a friend, I'd spend bit of time confirming that the thermostat needed replacing (regardless of who had diagnosed the issue), then after fitting the new part I'd be interested in running it to temp and bleeding the system (if it doesn't automaticly de-gas) checking the coolant fans for a couple of cycles, then letting it cool and repeating the thermostat opening check (of course I would find something else to do while the car cooled).
    If the thermostat was stuck closed and the car had cooked, a combustables and or pressure test would not be bad insurance against potential head gasket leaks.

    So assuming they did not spend just 5 minutes on the car and they actually checked the cooling system, $140 sounds like a fair price



    Jo

  7. #7
    1000+ Posts dino's Avatar
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    I m with Jo...
    $140 isn't bad "if" the job was done correctly...

    What brand of thermostat did they use... Just because the ebay special is $20 doesn't mean a genuine is that much... Plus the O ring/gasket... a number of manufacturers dont supply these with thermostats... they are a separate item... Coolant...Correct bleeding procedure isnt going to take 5 minutes... So on and so on...



    dino

  8. #8
    1000+ Posts pgti6's Avatar
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    Taking both perspectives into account, I agree with Jo that it was probably a reasonable price.

    Without knowing your level of mechanical nous or time available, small jobs like that are best tackled yourself. There are any number of switched on people on Aussiefrogs who would quite happily walk you through the replacement process.

    I notice you're not far away from me in Hawthorn (I'm in Box Hill) and have the proper Peugeot header tank used to force the air trapped out of the cooling system. Would have been happy to come over and assist.
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    405 Track car build thread moved to-
    http://forum.205gtidrivers.com/index...ic=143279&st=0

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    Phillip Island 1 53.8

    Previous Frenchies-
    1988 205Gti
    1998 306 GTi6
    1997 306 N5 sedan
    1996 306 N3 XT hatch
    1976 Renault R16TS manual in Avocado
    1976 Renault R16TS manual in Trak Yellow
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  9. #9
    Fellow Frogger
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    With similar Citroen engines/cooling systems, which are essentially the same, you usually need to bring the engine to operating temperature and wait for the fans to cut in and out a couple of times to ensure it's properly bled. They need a filling cylinder on the reservoir and, if done properly, it's not a 5 minute job. Certainly ask, but I expect this is what they will tell you they had to do. At least it's just a regular manual thermostat and not one of the expensive (and failure prone) electric units used on some later models.

  10. #10
    IWS
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    Thanks all for the comments, observations, suggestions.

    I think that the question I need to ask of my mechanics (who I have always trusted) is – “did you bleed the system and check the fans and was it all OK?” I think perhaps the fact that they gave my daughter a non-itemized invoice was the trigger for my wondering where and how there was $140 of value in what they did.

    And my mechanical nous – it used to be OK and I did do limited amounts of work when I had 404 for limited work but I lost my confidence as I did less and less of it. Now I’m really hesitant to touch the cars (beyond replacing globes and other such simple tasks) for fear of getting something wrong. Maybe I .need to take up the offers of help and advice and dig my old tool set out!

    Thanks again for the input – much appreciated!

    Ian

  11. #11
    1000+ Posts jo proffi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IWS View Post
    ..... Maybe I .need to take up the offers of help and advice and dig my old tool set out!

    Thanks again for the input – much appreciated!

    Ian
    Ian, Dig out those tools and go for it.
    Thats what Aussie frogs is all about, sharing the knowledge.

    A 306 is still of the vintage where simple jobs are......simple.

    Jo

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