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Is There a Labor Time Schedule for Installing Lift Kits and Off-Road Accessories?


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There are many suspension lift kits available for Jeep, 4WD truck and SUV models. Pricing can be shopped online, through catalogs and at local retailers. A wild card, however, is how much it will cost in labor time to have a shop install that lift kit. Or for that matter, a winch, armor, ARB Air Lock, an exhaust upgrade, you name it!

 

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The magazine's 2005 Ram 3500 Quad Cab 4WD sports a Mopar lift kit, Warn front bumper and M12000 winch, Mopar drop down running boards and a number of other accessories. I performed all of the work on this truck and would be glad to comment candidly on any labor involved.

 

Does anyone have a "flat rate" schedule they would like to share with viewers? This would really help consumers make an informed decision when estimating the cost of modifying their 4x4 vehicles.

 

If you installed a lift kit or accessories yourself, can you share your vehicle type and the labor time it took to install these products—and what kind of tools and equipment were necessary?  Thanks!

 

Moses

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Moses, i let this topic sit awhile, just to see what others might chime in with, but in the meantime, i have also talked to a few local shops about this kind of work, and most say that having a flat rate for any custom or add on work isnt feasible, due to the fact that they dont do a lot of that work, and they never know what they are getting into until they actually start on a job like this.

 

A perfect example is a lift kit for a 99 Jeep Wrangler im thinking of buying. I have never done one on a Jeep, so i thought i would ask around just in case i didnt feel comfortable doing it myself, and got estimates anywhere from 18 hours, to more than 50 hours just for labor to do the job.

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Umm...I missed out!  When I installed lift kits, 50 hours would have handled at least 2-1/2 vehicles...The 18 hours would be reasonable for a thorough job, from installation of parts to full alignment of axles, wheel alignment and such.  I think you're right, though, Biggman100, this could be a loaded question.  In the forums photo gallery, owners can comment on their individual experiences, and this might be insightful. 

 

I do know that installation shops, familiar with particular lift kits on specific chassis applications, do quote labor from a "menu".  For example, there is a 4-Wheel Parts retail outlet with installation shop at Sparks, Nevada (and elsewhere), and they must have a formula.  We might look into that angle. 

 

Similarly, auto dealerships, like a Jeep or Ram truck dealer selling Mopar lift kits, must have a formula and work from an estimate menu.  I'm not clear how New York State handles this, but most states have a mandatory "quote" requirement before a job begins.  This would be impossible to do unless the shop has a clear sense for the labor time.  An independent shop might have more latitude for "time and materials", but I doubt it. 

 

In states like California, an agency like the Bureau of Automotive Affairs insists on an initial estimate, though there is a provision for bumping the charges (with the consumer's permission) if a problem or additional work emerges during a repair.  This generally applies to repair work on mechanical or electrical systems where the job is unclear before assembly teardown.  Visualize an automatic transmission, engine or a transfer case, where the parts cannot be inspected without the teardown.

 

There is also the lift kit manufacturer's "estimate" of installation time, which also applies to many other aftermarket automotive products.  This is typically intended to encourage consumers to purchase a kit, and it's not clear what the labor time reflects.  (Is this the time it takes an expert or team, with all power tools available, to do the job at a professional shop facility set up for replacing these parts?  This is hardly a home garage or under the apartment carport!)  As Megatron aptly noted in his reply to our project difficulty rating topic, even the tools you own can determine how long it takes to do a job.  Your familiarity with a given procedure is a whole other story!

 

I did open a can of worms...so let's keep this question open!

 

Moses

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Umm...I missed out! When I installed lift kits, 50 hours would have handled at least 2-1/2 vehicles...The 18 hours would be reasonable for a thorough job, from installation of parts to full alignment of axles, wheel alignment and such. I think you're right, though, Biggman100, this could be a loaded question. In the forums photo gallery, owners can comment on their individual experiences, and this might be insightful.

I do know that installation shops, familiar with particular lift kits on specific chassis applications, do quote labor from a "menu". For example, there is a 4-Wheel Parts retail outlet with installation shop at Sparks, Nevada (and elsewhere), and they must have a formula. We might look into that angle.

Similarly, auto dealerships, like a Jeep or Ram truck dealer selling Mopar lift kits, must have a formula and work from an estimate menu. I'm not clear how New York State handles this, but most states have a mandatory "quote" requirement before a job begins. This would be impossible to do unless the shop has a clear sense for the labor time. An independent shop might have more latitude for "time and materials", but I doubt it.

In states like California, an agency like the Bureau of Automotive Affairs insists on an initial estimate, though there is a provision for bumping the charges (with the consumer's permission) if a problem or additional work emerges during a repair. This generally applies to repair work on mechanical or electrical systems where the job is unclear before assembly teardown. Visualize an automatic transmission, engine or a transfer case, where the parts cannot be inspected without the teardown.

There is also the lift kit manufacturer's "estimate" of installation time, which also applies to many other aftermarket automotive products. This is typically intended to encourage consumers to purchase a kit, and it's not clear what the labor time reflects. (Is this the time it takes an expert or team, with all power tools available, to do the job at a professional shop facility set up for replacing these parts? This is hardly a home garage or under the apartment carport!) As Megatron aptly noted in his reply to our project difficulty rating topic, even the tools you own can determine how long it takes to do a job. Your familiarity with a given procedure is a whole other story!

I did open a can of worms...so let's keep this question open!

Moses

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Moses, I've done no less than 15 full suspension lifts on Jeep Wranglers. At this point I pretty much have it down to a science. Including alignment, shocks, springs, control arms, sway bar links, track bars, track bar brackets,spring correction wedges and bump stops and extended brake lines.

If I'm doing the entire job solo it requires approximately 8-10 hours. With an extra well experienced hand we can trim 1-2 hours off that time.

Hope this helps

Nate

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Sounds right, Nate, and consistent with a good set of tools and experience.  I would say "on-task" time in my case would be close to your experience, especially with a twin-post hoist and tripod stands. 

 

My wife is quick to remind me that I'm usually filming at the same time, and that distorts the overall time...Optimistically, I enter these projects with just the lift kit installation labor in mind, only to watch the clock hands sing—as I trip over studio lamps and cords!

 

Thanks for sharing your experience, Nate...Very helpful.

 

Moses

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