Alright, so I basically know nothing about cars save for that they have four wheels and an engine. My right brake light went out recently so I brought it into my dealer to get it replaced as well as to receive a quote for general maintenance they say I need to perform every 10,000 miles.

The car in question is a 2003 Audi A4 1.8T with 48,000 miles and the itemized quote is as follows:

  • General service including oil change, wiper fluid, hinge lubrication engine/light/diagnostic check -- $380
  • Fix obstructed washer jet nozzle -- $45
  • Fuel Injector -- $120
  • Throttle Body -- $130
  • Brake Flush -- $130
  • Brake Light Bulb -- $60 (I'm assuming this includes labor, but not sure)
  • Front Brakes (includes pads) -- $520
  • Rear Brakes (includes pads) -- $440

As I don't have much automotive knowledge I have no idea how fair these prices are, but something tells me I'm being overcharged. Could anyone let me know what a decent price for any of these services is? I normally wouldn't mind doing repairs myself, but I'm insanely busy with work and school at the moment and would prefer to have it done by a third party. Thanks for any help, I really don't want to fork out $1700 if I don't need to.

  • 1
    This question seems fairly subjective and localized. What one considers a reasonable price for quality service may seem too expensive for another, and labor costs can vary between different regional markets. – Iszi Mar 17 '11 at 0:44
  • 2
    You have your answers but just for everyone reading, this type of question has to be off topic. This site is for mechanics and DIY enthusiasts. Specific shopping advice is generally off topic for this type of Q&A site. What to close it as runs the gambit from too subjective, to off topic, to too localized. Take your pick. – Robert Cartaino Mar 17 '11 at 3:23

Here is my take on their suggested maintenance: they are trying to pad their wallets. You went in for a light bulb replacement, and they suggested work at 10k mile intervals that most people never ever do to their cars (brake fluid flush, and hinge lube).

Here is a price list of all the parts that are involved in their work (from rockauto.com, a fantastic site for auto parts)

Oil change (using Mobile 1 synthetic) $6 /qt times (say) 6 quarts + $5 for the oil filter = $41.

Fix obstructed washer jet nozzle -- One paper clip, bent straight. Free

Fuel Injector cleaniing?? One bottle of fuel injector cleaner $3

Throttle Body cleaning?? I would call this unnecessary, unless there is problem.

Brake Flush -- Unnecessary

Brake Light Bulb -- $5 from any parts store

Front & rear brake pads and rotors -- $100 for both sets of GOOD brake pads. $260 for four new (high quality) rotors

TOTAL: $409

If you have a shop change the oil with premium synthetic oil, that might cost $75. In independent shop shouldn't be asking much more than $600 to change ALL of the brake pads and rotors. It's also worth noting that the front brake pads on this car have wear sensor build into them, so a light on the dash will illuminate when the front pads get down to their wear limits, and even then the car will still be drivable for a few thousand miles. Do you see this? Do you hear any metal-on metal noise when you brake?

I guess it all boils down to this: what does your owner's manual so for a car of this age (and mileage, but that is actually quite low)? You know you need a brake light. Is there any other work that you're sure you need, or any anything else about the car that isn't running properly?

It seems to me that you can get by just by changing the light bulb (Part #17916) and possibly getting an oil change. By all means, if you need assistance with the items mentioned above, just ask!

Good luck!

  • Awesome, this is what I wanted to hear. I haven't noticed any sound/performance abnormalities coming from my brakes so they seem fine. I'll just replace the bulb myself and fix the nozzle in addition to getting an oil change. – bitsoda Mar 17 '11 at 2:28

From your overview it seems you are getting reamed.

I believe a significant part of the charges you listed come from the premium of taking it to a dealership. Found a blog post (2008 Audi R8: 15,000 Mile Service Cost $600.33) listing that in 2008 the hourly labor rate was $120. Obviously this can change by locale, but as an basis for comparison, it will give you an idea.

As for your list:

  1. Oil Change, wiper fluid, & diagnostic check - all very straight forward probably < $100 1a. As for the hinge lubrication, I personally don't believe it's that important on a modern car and seems excessive.
  2. Obstructed washer jet nozzle, probably fixed by sticking a pin in the top of the nozzle, removing the blockage - 5 minutes time (unless it is more severe, but you can't know that until you get into it)
  3. Fuel Injector - if this really needs replacing, approximately correct charge (but I would trying a nice fuel system cleaner first)
  4. Throttle body - again, if this really needs replacing, correct charge (but see my note below)
  5. Brake flush - on a modern car, I don't believe this is necessary unless you have some damage to the brake system (ala leak or damaged master cylinder)
  6. Brake light bulb - normal inflated dealership charges, you can replace this yourself in 5 minutes and $5 at any auto parts store
  7. Front brakes - the dealership will most likely (for that high a charge) be replacing your rotors as well as your brake pads. If you have NOT been hearing scrubbing/grinding when you brake and have not been driving the car VERY hard, this is unnecessary. At most you would need to replace the brake pads & turn the rotors. (There is a case where the rotor has been rubbed so thin that they cannot turn them, but this is not very common).
  8. Rear brakes - see previous answer


Before doing any of this work I would recommend taking the car to another mechanic, even if it is another dealership just to compare quotes and see what they say is wrong with the car.

  • Thanks for the reply. I'll have someone other than my dealership have a look at it. The dealership is quite snooty and out of touch with reality as they sell high end brands so they're probably not the best place to get service in hindsight. As far as the wipers and brake light replacement it sounds fairly straight forward so I'll take a stab at doing it myself. My brakes feel fine and I've not heard any noise or sound coming from them so I'm assuming they're fine. I don't drive much and when I do it's usually in a sensible manner. Thanks again for the input, it helped a bunch. – bitsoda Mar 17 '11 at 1:19
  • Brake fluid does need regular changing on all vehicles that use DOT4 brake fluid. It absorbs water, which ruins it's ability to brake effectively. It's not really practical to seal the brake hydraulic system well enough to perfectly exclude water. Unless I misunderstand something, a brake flush is really just replacing the brake fluid. – Leliel Feb 25 '16 at 2:50

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