"Do you feel that auto repair places are mostly rip-offs? Do you generally trust mechanics? Do you think $60-70 labor rates (per hour) are justified? i certainly don't. The whole auto repair industry is crooked" stated Mack Daddy a website member at Yahoo Answers automotive forum.
Many people share this persons’ viewpoint and lack insight into business. Those people do not understand what is really happening in business, and especially the auto service business. Since his statement focuses on the automotive service and repair industry, a comparison of a couple professions to that of mechanic will shed some additional light onto the statements above.
First, the auto repair shop business must be separated from the mechanic. The auto repair shop is like any other business including the one you may work for. They invest their money, time, energy, experience, etc with a HOPE of making a profit. Their expenses are enormous for equipment, building, data systems and TAXES (regulation), insurance, etc. An example of the expenses would be the two most popular auto repair data systems (Mitchell & Alldata) which cost about $5000.00 per year for a subscription. Repair shop owners typically charge what the market will allow and MANY discount from that hoping to get more work as they only know this type advertising and marketing strategy.
The mechanic usually is a 1099 (IRS defined self-employed) person that, must buy his own tools, uniform rentals, training, testing, and other items. They have to pay for testing by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) to prove proficiency, even though the ASE is rated a scam on mechanics according to the National Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Some mechanics have to supply the data systems to repair the cars, which are constantly changing. A beginning mechanic has usually taken 2 to 3 years of formal classroom and lab training (not subsidized by government), bought an initial tool inventory of about $15,000.00 on tool truck credit and ends up starting in the industry as a GS (oil change) mechanic earning minimum wage.
It is not uncommon for senior mechanics to have a tool inventory that exceeds several hundred thousand dollars in hand tools plus lots more for specialty tools.
The professional mechanic has to know many other disciplines such as, plumber, electrician, computer repair, diagnostician, hydraulics, HVAC, and be a confidant and compassionate psychologist when needed. However, he is rarely afforded the respect of knowing these other disciplines and is looked upon by many as an idiot, even by some that he has to drop to their education level in an attempt to share knowledge.
The professional mechanic is expected to know everything, but a doctor or lawyer with lots more formal training and less investment only have a “practice” meaning that they do not know everything and people do not expect them to know everything. The doctor charges an office visit fee even if he does nothing, but simply has a nurse (assistant) perform all basics. He performs or orders all kinds of tests as an accepted practice for which he charges for every one of those, however the mechanic that needs to perform tests is not expected to be paid for them.
The doctor and lawyer professions are very similar when you consider that both have professional organizations backing them up, even the ones that are truly so incompetent they should be removed.
Did you know several studies on doctor competence revealed that doctors routinely are wrong in their diagnosis 40% of the time on 'Breast Cancer' in women. Other studies show this level of incompetence in other areas of the "Medical Praqctice". Yet, the public at large still trusts them!
Lawyers can and do routinely lie both in court documents and presentation in court, but their "Get Out of Jail Free Card" requires only simply saying "to the best of their knowledge". Most are not required to further their education by keeping up with laws, and many are so incompetent they should never have been admitted to their profession.
Here's the rub with the law profession, many of these incompetent lawyers end up becoming judges in the courts most used like Recorders, Traffic, and Small Claims. Some go on to be State, Federal and Supreme Court judges. And these now judges, incompetent lawyers, are biased against anyone operating "Pro Se" in court as they protect their own profession and refuse to police it.
It would be a far different picture if the lowly mechanic was this incompetent and allowed these luxuries by the public and system.
Recently in Dekalb County, Georgia, the police department was doing a “slowdown” meaning they were not issuing traffic citations at a level mandated by the government. The police demands were rather significant in comparison. The police training is considerably less, the starting pay without overtime is about $35,000.00 per year. Officers get paid vacation, holiday, sick pay and retirement. They also receive a uniform allowance, weapons and ammunition allowance, bulletproof vests, medical insurance, and more. One of the many things they were demanding in addition to more pay was each wanted a car to drive while not on duty, including maintenance, insurance and fuel costs all covered (by the taxpayers). While they were doing this “slowdown” which meant they were not doing the job they agreed to do, they still expected to be paid and were.
In 1965 auto industry, labor rates in the shops were about $35 per flat rate hour and federal the minimum wage was $1.25 per hour. Today the Federal minimum wage is $7.25 or about 6 times what it was then. The vehicles are seriously more complex, require more specialty tools, training every month or two just to TRY to stay current and lots more. If we multiply the shop rate from 1965 by the Federal minimum wage multiple then the current hourly shop rate should be $210 per hour.
Mechanics in the 1960s to the early 1980s were paid between 40 and 50% of the labor dollars they generated. Today that number is closer to 15% to 20% and companies like Mitchell On Demand have provisions in their management software so that unscrupulous shop owners can charge the customer one rate and pay the mechanic another EG: charge customer 2.1 hours, pay mechanic 1.4 hours. Also the mechanic in most shops does not have any input into the part quality used, but is required to perform the job all over again without pay when cheap parts fail even though he did not share in the parts profits.
The labor times are not accurate in most software programs because all they do is take the warranty time and add 30%. They do not consider the job, where a customer has literally beat his vehicle up, or paid a "butcher" to do a job that a professional has to redo. Those customers rarely tell the shop owner, service adviser or anyone else what they did. EG: a dash repair in a Land Rover where a "butcher" had literally destroyed the HVAC ducts and support system, the customer had spilled drinks everywhere and had lots of trash (6 bags full) that had to be picked up and removed and the customer refused to pay for any replacement parts. The actual repair and cleaning time was 86.6 hours...pay was 21.4 hours...and the customer complained about the cost!
A Nissan Certified Master Mechanic had to replace a transmission in a car (8 hour job) while the customer was waiting in the customer lounge. The service adviser was so incompetent that he could not get the customer to leave it for two days to remove the stress the mechanic was under. This same service adviser was constantly complaining to the mechanic that he was slow and did what he could to cut the mechanic’s pay continuously. If the vehicle had to be towed in from a recheck of the work, the mechanic, not the dealership would have been required to pay the tow and pay for a rental car for the customer.
Most mechanics got into this industry because they truly love what they do, not because of the income potential or benefits or anything like that. If you care to read more about how and why the skilled mechanics are leaving the industry...go to this forum and read.
As the highly skilled mechanics leave the industry, consider the deterioration of the service and repair industry and how bad it is going to get. Further consider that the International Transport Forum believes the vehicle population is going to climb to 2.5 Billion vehicles by 2050...here is an article
Now stop and consider WHO is going to repair all the vehicles if things do not improve for the lowly, underpaid, abused, and disgruntled mechanics.
Comparing our 2X80S with competitors
|Controls Data Corruption|
|Improved Data Speed|
|Enhanced Software Included|
|Phone Tablet PDA Capable|
|Multiple PC Applications|
|Multiple Phone Tablet PDA Applications|
|2 Wheel Vehicle Applications|
|Legacy OS Support|
Yes or Included No or not included Some or limited
|All above information is based on published information as of 01/2015 or products purchsed to confirm|