When listing the price of parts (e.g., tires) on a work order or invoice for car repair in the United States, must the price of the parts be the one that the garage paid to obtain the parts? Or is it the garage allowed to inflate the price to make them margin on it?

If the answer is specific to the state, I am mostly interested in California.

  • 1
    Adding their margin is not inflating the price. If you went to a store and bought the parts, you would have the shop's margin added to it.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 27, 2019 at 9:25
  • @gnasher729 when listing the price of parts, it sounds like this is the price the garage paid to obtain the parts. By adding a garage margin on top of it, I view it as a hidden fee. But maybe it's legal. Apr 27, 2019 at 9:28
  • 2
    The invoice the garage presents to you is the price they're charging you for the parts. The price they paid for the parts is entirely irrelevant, unless you have a contract which somehow specifics what their margins will be. They may have paid nothing at all for some parts (perhaps they were salvaged), but that has no bearing on what they charge you for them. A garage typically doesn't just install parts for you. They also source them, stock them, etc and they're entitled to be paid for these other services.
    – brhans
    Apr 27, 2019 at 23:57
  • @brhans I understand, but it seems to open the door for a fair amount of overcharging. I was curious to see if the legislation sets any boundary. Apr 28, 2019 at 0:00
  • @FranckDernoncourt to avoid being overcharged, ask for a budget before the repairs. Also, most limitations at overcharging that could come from law could be trivially bypassed: "Ok, we at MarioAndLuigi Garage Ltd will only charge you what our supplier has charged us. This spare well? Our supplier, MarioAndLuigi Car Supplies Ltd charged us US $1000 for it, do you want to check the invoice?".
    – SJuan76
    Apr 28, 2019 at 17:26

1 Answer 1



They will list the price they are charging you. This will normally be greater than what they paid because that’s how business works.

The amount they are allowed to charge is what you agreed in your contract with them (which may incorporate a price list) or, if the contract is silent, a reasonable amount. What is reasonable will be related to what the market in your geographical area charges. While this is indirectly related to the input cost of a given item, business can and do charge what the market allows.

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