In this economy all of us are looking for the best deal. Unfortunately a lot of people equate the lowest hourly rate to be the best deal. Let me help you with that train of thought. Hourly rate has a lot to do with how much overhead a garage has. If a garage has state of the art diagnostic computers and a qualified technician to run them, they are not going to be the cheapest but will probably be more efficient than the cheapest. So lets say XYZ Auto is getting $55 per hour. This is the cheapest around and you want to save money so you go there for a diagnostic on your tail lights not working. They spend 3 hours trying to find out why these lights are not working and tell you it is because of the light switch. The switch will cost $100 for the part and another hour to change @ $55. So the total repair with the diagnostic charge would be $320.00. You tell them ok fix it. You pick the car up and it works for a couple of weeks and the problem comes back. You bring the car back to xyz and tell them the problem is back. They tie your car up for another day and say the switch went bad again and charge you another $55 for changing the switch out again but no charge for the switch because it was under warranty. So now you are at $375.00 for the repair. You drive the car a few more weeks and it happens again. This time you are mad and say I am just going to take it to the specialist for a second opinion. The specialist charges $100.00 per hour and finds the problem with in the first hour. It turns out you had a bad connection at the switch and it needed to be fixed. He fixes the connection in a half of an hour. Total cost to you at the specialist is $150.00 and the car never has the problem again. So you paid $375.00 at the cheaper shop for a repair that didn't fix the vehicle. The only reason why it worked for a few weeks is... every time they would unplug and plug the switch back in the connection would be good until you drove the car over bumps and used the lights causing strain on the connection. Then the connection would go bad again. The specialist that had the diagnostic tools and information data base to look into when problems like this happen. So the repair took a lot less time and would have cost you $150.00 total. Yes his hourly rate was more because he has to pay for the computers and information data base but his overall repair was less than half of what the "cheaper" garage cost. I see this day in and day out. I am the specialist charging $100 per hour with all of the computers and test equipment to pay for. I am also the guy that usually finds the problem with in the hour.
I hope this helped clear up your way of thinking what a deal really is.
Craig St John