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Old 07-23-2019, 08:35 AM   #1
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Is $900 (parts + labor) for a new starter reasonable?

My bus wouldn't restart after I stopped at Wawa to fuel up and I had to get it towed. The truck repair place just called and said the starter needs to be replaced (bad solenoid) and quoted $475 plus labor for a total of about $900 (not counting the tow, unfortunately).

Is this a reasonable cost and a plausible source of my problem (as opposed to just a drained battery?) This isn't the sort of work I would be able to do myself, so my only alternative would be to have the bus towed somewhere else and that would be another $300 plus whatever the other place charged me.
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Old 07-23-2019, 08:51 AM   #2
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Would they let you crawl underneath to arc the starter?
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Old 07-23-2019, 08:53 AM   #3
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If you can't do it yourself it's going to be pricey
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Old 07-23-2019, 08:54 AM   #4
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Would they let you crawl underneath to arc the starter?
I don't know what that means and I don't think it's something I could do, aside of whether they'd allow it. What does arcing the starter entail? Would it allow me to keep using my old starter or something?
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Old 07-23-2019, 08:59 AM   #5
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It would comfirm the veracity of their claim. It's a short circuit you'd make across the terminals to determine if the solenoid kicks, and also to spin the starter motor.
Of course, this is done: out of gear, hand brake on, wheels chocked.
With a VOM in hand, battery voltage could be checked, as well as confirming voltage to the starter system while underneath.
If not permitted access, which I'd count on if it's in their shop, and not parked outside, I'd have them arc it for you, in front of you.
Course, you'd prolly have to take it on faith, since it's unlikely you can see the starter from above.
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Old 07-23-2019, 09:09 AM   #6
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It would comfirm the veracity of their claim. It's a short circuit you'd make across the terminals to determine if the solenoid kicks, and also to spin the starter motor.
Of course, this is done: out of gear, hand brake on, wheels chocked.
With a VOM in hand, battery voltage could be checked, as well as confirming voltage to the starter system while underneath.
If not permitted access, which I'd count on if it's in their shop, and not parked outside, I'd have them arc it for you, in front of you.
Course, you'd prolly have to take it on faith, since it's unlikely you can see the starter from above.
I thoroughly lack the know-how to evaluate this myself, so I'll have to trust them as far as the necessity of it is concerned. The wrecker driver made some efforts to get my bus started on the spot, which is at least a few honesty points in their favor (I also know the place through my car mechanic so I don't think they're a total screw job).

Assuming the starter needs replacing, is $900 total a fair price? What could something like this be fixed for if I could find a used (?) starter online and replace it myself?
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Old 07-23-2019, 09:43 AM   #7
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Ouch. Which kids tuition you paying for?

Without enough information I went out and looked at starters at Napa for an International. Around the ballpark of $300 for a remanufactured starter and $500 for new.

What’s the labor rate where you are? I could totally see a heavy truck mechanic charging $200 an hour and up.
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Old 07-23-2019, 10:03 AM   #8
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Ouch. Which kids tuition you paying for?

Without enough information I went out and looked at starters at Napa for an International. Around the ballpark of $300 for a remanufactured starter and $500 for new.

What’s the labor rate where you are? I could totally see a heavy truck mechanic charging $200 an hour and up.
They quoted me $475 for the starter and said it would take 4 hours, so I'm guessing their hourly is around $110 or so. Sounds like if they're screwing me it's only by doing something I don't really need at all. If I really do need a new starter then I guess $900 isn't too bad.

FWIW I've always envisioned the soul-crushing costs as much larger than this (like 5 grand or more). I'll fit this in the budget by crapping in a bucket instead of buying a Nature's Head.
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Old 07-23-2019, 10:35 AM   #9
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With your admitted lack of mechanical knowledge and ability, unfortunately you are at the mercy of the repair shop you inevitably land in.
$900.00 for a starter is high but the repair shops are in business to make profit so in reality, you must pay what they quote, or tow to another shop in hopes of a cheaper rate. You could try negotiating it down, but most shops have set rates for their labor and parts markup that they stick to religiously.

Hopefully in your case the starter is bad and not simply a loose or disconnected wire to it. An unscrupulous shop might simply tighten the stud or reconnect a wire and charge you for a starter.
Assuming this shop is on the level, ask them if the starter is warranted for life, now. Their answer might surprise you.

Another alternative in the future, might be to search out a roadside mechanic. This can also be a crapshoot when it comes to the final repair bill, but a roadside guy won't spend 4 hours changing a starter either!

Good luck...
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Old 07-23-2019, 11:07 AM   #10
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Hopefully in your case the starter is bad and not simply a loose or disconnected wire to it. An unscrupulous shop might simply tighten the stud or reconnect a wire and charge you for a starter.
Assuming this shop is on the level, ask them if the starter is warranted for life, now. Their answer might surprise you.
The wrecker driver spent some time underneath the bus trying to get it going for me, and it was damned hot so I (like to) imagine that he would have fixed it if it was a loose wire or something like that.

Are you saying that the starter will be warrantied for life if the shop is on the level? Or it won't be warrantied in that case?
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