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NATA reports mechanical rate survey data

More than 75 shops in the greater Portland area participated, as did another 10 shops located elsewhere in the state

Portland, Ore.—The Northwest Automotive Trades Association (NATA) completed its mechanical shop labor rate survey in April, and published a four-page report of the findings. More than 75 shops in the greater Portland area participated, as did another 10 shops located elsewhere in the state.

From mid-February through mid-April of 2021, NATA distributed a labor rate survey to shops, both members and nonmembers of the association. More than 75 shops in the greater Portland area participated.

They ranged from two-person shops to those with dozens of employees; overall, they averaged about eight full-time employees, including production and office.

Another 10 shops elsewhere in Oregon participated. Some data from that limited
sample size are provided below.

Among the findings:

• The general shop labor rate in the Portland market is about $120, up 9 percent from $110 when NATA conducted a similar survey four years ago. This is about even with the overall rate of inflation (8.1 percent) in the United States over that period.

• Shops tend to charge slightly more than their general labor rate for diagnostic work.

• Of shops charging a flat fee for an oil change (as nearly three-quarters of shops do), the average was $53, up nearly 19 percent from $44.24 in 2017. Of those charging based on a labor rate, the average labor rate was $57. (The average was $51 when the highest ($299) and lowest ($15) were removed from the calculation.)

• There is significant variance in how much shops mark-up prices on parts. Mark-up on used parts has changed little over four years, with shops typically charging a customer about $161 (up from $158 four years ago) for a used part that costs the shop $100. But the customer charge for a $100 new OEM part ranges from $120 in some shops to $200 in others. The range in mark-up on aftermarket parts is even wider, from a low of $125 to a high of $300.

• There is also wide variation in how shops charge for shop supplies. The flat-fee used by 29 percent of shops averages about $9.44, while 68 percent of shops base the charge as a percentage of labor (an average of 5.27 percent), and often with a cap of between $10 and $100 (average is $36).

• Although the number of participants outside the Portland area were too few to offer much statistical validity, the 10 shops had an average general labor rate of $107 (low of $83, high of $120), and an average diagnostic labor rate of $109 (low of $83, high of $125). Their average mark-up on parts were similar to that of shops in the Portland market.

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