Fair Muffler In Green Bay Is How Fair?

Fair Muffler

Just sharing this because I think it’s far from “fair” and I also wanted to display an estimate vs reality.

I had an exhaust leak and took my van to Fair Muffler in Green Bay, WI for an estimate. My guess was that a manifold gasket was bad but when I got the estimate of $598.72 that was way more than a manifold gasket would be.

Fair Muffler stated I had a cracked crossover pipe. The estimate broke down as the following from Fair Muffler:

  • 1 crossover pipe: $312.50
  • 2 gaskets at $26.51 each, total $53.42
  • “shop supplies” $39.29
  • Labor $165.00
  • Total with tax: $598.72

Since the estimate was nearly $600, I figured I’d deal with the bit of noise coming from the engine compartment and save up at a minimum.

I normally work on my own stuff but I have never done any work with exhaust. Most of the time, the bolts are so rusted and from heat cycles, the bolts almost always break. Since the repair bill was almost $600, I thought I would research parts and how hard this change would be.

Things start getting a bit “Unfair” at this point IMO and also displays a bit a reality!

The crossover pipe that Fair Muffler stated was $312.50 was really $225 directly from the Chrysler dealership. There is no “aftermarket” crossover pipe for a 2008 Chrysler Town & Country 3.3L Flex. The only one available is the OEM, directly from the dealer that I seen. Not only is the only available pipe $87.50 cheaper than Fair Muffler stated, remember that $53.42 for those two gaskets? Yeah, those two gaskets are INCLUDED with the crossover pipe at no extra cost from the dealer. Ouch! Actually, 4 new bolts are included too! So that $53.42 can be added to the $87.50 markup on the part and bringing that markup to $140.92 on the one part I need installed.

Doing some research for the part online, the lowest price I could have got the crossover pipe (with 2 gaskets added to my order since the website didn’t state any were included), with shipping was $193.17. Speaking with my local dealer, they could get the crossover pipe next morning and the cost was $225, which I opted for since I didn’t have to order from some random website and I could get the part next morning (on a Saturday mind you).

The work, 4 bolts! The crossover pipe is literally near the top/middle of the engine, held on by 4 bolts. It wraps from the front manifold to the back manifold. It’s only job, connecting the two! I loosened the transmission fill tube bolt and moved the tube over a bit for more clearance to extract the pipe. A 1/2″ 12 point socket and some PB Blaster and within 20 minutes, the old crossover pipe was out. The “cracked pipe” was really a weld failure. The flange that is welded onto the pipe, clean broke off. Technically, I could have just tack welded the flange back on in proper position, removed the pipe, fully welded it and reinstalled it… but since I was this far, the new pipe was getting installed.

I used a wire brush to clean up where the old gaskets were, slid in the new pipe and was nearly done! The “nuts” that hold the bolts on were the biggest challenge, mainly the lower back bolt. They are not attached to the flange on the manifold, but are loose with a small tab on them. Once I got that one started in the back/bottom, the rest were fairly easy. Since the special nuts were a bit of a challenge to start, install took me a little longer than removing but was still under an hour. I used nothing other than 4 squirts of PB Blaster and a hand-held wire brush. Shop supplies of $39.29? Seems excessive.

My total cost to replace my crossover pipe in 1 hour and 20 minutes (no jacks, lifts, cutting tools etc needed) was $236.25 (could have been nearly $40 less if I waited on shipping and ordered the parts online).

$598.72 vs $236.25. A difference of $362.47, which I saved by doing it myself.

Where was Fair Muffler “unfair” with its estimate? IMO, the markup on the pipe, gaskets and “shop supplies” wasn’t fair. I understand your business needs to make money. That is what the labor of $165 is for. I guess it’s ok to mark up the part a little bit, but maybe Fair Muffler even gets a better deal than the $225 I paid at the dealer? They could. Is marking up a part that cost $225 up to $312.50 ok? Then add in the fact that the gaskets came with the pipe, but Fair Muffler added in the $53.42 to the cost? The $140.92 addition cost to the part is what is unfair IMO! Add in the questionable “shop supplies at $39.29” and that’s about $180 bucks of fluff added onto the bill!

A “Fair” estimate IMO would have been $225 for the part and gaskets. That was the part cost from the dealer. Charge the $165 for labor and the $39.29 for “shop supplies” with a total of $429.29 (plus tax) and they would have likely had my business! They still take in at least $200 for a job that likely takes them less than an hour to do! Instead the estimate is nearly $600.

In general, the part was marked up a pretty decent amount ($312.50/$225) from actual cost coming directly from an OEM dealership where I got it. I was estimated to be billed an extra $53.42 for gaskets that were included with the pipe ($365.92/$225). The nearly $40 for “shop supplies” comes with question to what they actually use to justify the fee.

Here is the estimate from Fair Muffler:

Fair Muffler Estimate

Here is my invoice of the OEM crossover pipe/gaskets/bolts I purchased directly from the Chrysler dealership:

Crossover Pipe 08 Town and Country

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3 thoughts on “Fair Muffler In Green Bay Is How Fair?

  1. There should be a law against SHOP FEES, most nonsense, unverified fee out there.

    Most auto body shops get a better rate on parts, they usually upcharge 15-25%, as they want to make money on anything they touch.

    The internet has helped alot of people get smarter, YOUTUBE videos are always a good idea also. It helped me change a cam motion sensor in my car which was virtually a pop a new one in job, but the dealer wanted hundreds for literally a 10 min job.

    There are so many poor saps that get burned on a daily basis.

    1. @Ron,
      In general, there is fair and not so fair. People just need to think, research and get 2nd and 3rd estimates before making a decision. I replaced my cam position sensor on my van as well, pretty recently. I got to experience “limp mode”.

  2. Overcharging in the car repair business happens all the time. Perhaps the best case of it involves my experience at Sears automotive dept a number of years ago. I took my old Jeep to Sears to add a cruise control and was quoted a high price, which was mostly labor based on the so called flat-rate manual saying it was 3-hours labor.

    Just 1-hour later Sears called saying the job was done. I asked how when I was told at least 3-hours labor so why I am not paying for 1-hour? Their reply was because they have fast and expert mechanics why would they be penalized for getting it done faster than the price quote manual allowed for!

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