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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Why is the automotive repair industry in need of so much repair itself?

Nightmare stories about crooked or incapable shops aren't anything new, but even for me, it seems increasingly tough to find reliable proprietors of some the more menu-item kind of work. Changing tires, alignments, A/C recharging-the kind of stuff that doesn't require a hardcore diagnostic adventure to complete the service.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/why-is-the-automotive-repair-industry-in-need-of-so-much-repai...
146 REPLIES 146
AdamsZ
New Driver

I got out of the business 30 years ago. The car companies with their separate computer systems and the freakin engineer morons took all the fun out of doing something great for your customers. Unexplained glitches and codes that came and went made it impossible to repair them. These days I’m retired and my friends come to me when they have taken their vehicles somewhere and not gotten it repaired. It’s a fun challenge for me cuz I’m not trying to make a living fixing it. It usually ends up being something very inexpensive in parts but large amounts of labor tracking down the issue. Usually a pinched wire or a sensor that only works part time or checks out within limits but fails to operate correctly. I understand why the guys trying to make a living kick it out the door still not working.
Oldroad1
Technician

During the 70s and 80s working at a dealer service department a mechanic could make a decent living. Back in those days a new car warranty was 12/12 so the techs got a very good ratio of customer pay jobs. The late 80s going into the 90s the factories started to extend the warranty cycle to 3/30 and outside extended warranty companies started popping up everywhere. That is when I began working for an independent. I found out early, after better than 90% of my income were warranty repairs. I also found out the hard way that a technician will never get paid what a job is worth under most warranty repair R/Os. There were times my R/Os were scrutinized and I was backflagged for what I thought was a successful explanation for a successful repair. After a couple of those episodes I threw my hands up and said "I'm Done with you". I joined a successful independent and never looked back.
reddog47
Pit Crew

After a 7- year stint in the military as an electronic tech I switched hats and changed to automobile repairs both body and mechanical starting at the bottom sweeping floors and washing cars. It included a lot of watching, listening and diving in with an inexperienced helping hand weather or not it included helping repair a corvette fender or overhauling a transmission. Over the years it meant going from job to job gaining on the job experience while taking every course available to become both I-CAR/I-CAR Instructor and ASE certified while working hours that people today would consider insane to increase income. During those 45 years holding positions such as porter, tech both mechanical and body, estimator, service writer, insurance appraiser/adjustor, body shop manager, service manager, instructor at national tech school and shop owner. Other than instructor and insurance all of my pay was flag hour or commission which means you do it right the first time as come backs cost you time and money. But getting to the point, no matter what the industry the labor pool has been going down for decades as everyone (you and I included) want the most for the least, and as long as experience, quality and integrity has no bearing on pay levels the skilled work force has no incentive to lure candidates. As the country is seeing at present, it is a job shoppers' market, quitting a job to get a better (frequently same type of job) paying job with more benefits. If employers would pay commensurate with experience, ability and profit it would work out for everyone instead of a one size fits all pay by the numbers.
Patrician
Detailer

Great article but the conclusion is wrong. I opened my shop in 1979 and now that I'm 67 I'm retiring soon. In 1979 my income was on parity with electricians and plumbers. I have a 9 bay shop in Queens NY which is rare in its large size.. It's busy however over the 40 years what plumbers and electricians make dwarf my income.
Here is a big part of the problem. The auto industry has little regulation and few standards. Electricians and plumbers are licensed. Their work must meet local codes. What are the codes for auto repairs? Is a brake job just pads? Is it pads over resurfaced rotors.? Is it pads over new rotors? Is the mechanic greasing the slides? If ten electricians wire a building the job will be done exactly same to meet code. Their price for the job will not vary more than 3%. Regulation compliance raises consumer costs because only certain people can perform it. Therefore raising wages for the industry doing the necessary work.
The next point I'd like to make was pointed out to me by a customer sitting in my office. A friend of mine is a licensed plumber. When he installs a natural gas boiler he tells me the boiler costs about $2500. When all is said and done he gets between $10,000-$12,000 for the whole job and it takes about less than a day. He has to register the job with the gas company, be licensed to pull a permit, it may be inspected by the city but most of all because of home owner's insurance he has to be certified. No certification you lost your insurance. I always ask my plumber friend how does he get these prices for the jobs he does whether it's a sink or toilet? He says "It's what the market will bare". There is no job in the auto industry with profits and margins like this. One day I'm trying to sell a customer a $1200 job on his car that he desperately needed. I eventually got the job but it was like pulling teeth.. I know for a fact that this same customer just put a new kitchen in his house for $30,000. The customer who had been sitting in the office listened to the whole conversation He saw I was a little twisted and aggravated. He said to me "don't get so aggravated". I said to the customer "This guy has grinding brakes and ball joint ready to jump out and he is not sure he wants to fix it??????????" He was telling me all about his great new kitchen and how much it was but he doesn't have $1200 to make his car safe?". Then this customer said something to me that changed my life. He said "How much is the guys house worth"? I answered about $800,000. "What's his car worth?" he asked. I said about $5000. The customer said to me "There you go. He probably paid $30,000 for kitchen that could be done for $20,000 but doesn't want to pay an honest $1200 on something that's worth $1200 because the car is only worth $5000 and its value can only go down while the house goes up. " I said to myself that's how my friend gets that money for a boiler ,the electrician gets $200 just to show up and the concrete guy gets big money for a trade where there has been no real change in technology since Roman days. So when the author at the end of the article lumps mechanics, plumbers and electricians all together this is a wrong conclusion. 99.999999% of all mechanics don't get to work on $800,000 cars. In conclusion because mechanics can't charge what other trades charge we can't afford the much higher wages other trades pay an can't attract new mechanics into the field.
Reinhold_Weege
Instructor

You've made an excellent point.
DUB6
Specialist

Yes - several of them, actually.

bblhed
Instructor

I have not one but two really great shops for work I can't do myself because I don't have the equipment, will, or skill. That said I have to agree about run of the mill work shops especially tire and suspension shops, they can't keep people and the ones they can keep are less than stellar at the job.
Patrician
Detailer

I know this for a fact from people I've talked to in my 49 year career as an auto mechanic. You can be the best mechanic in the whole wide world working at a new car dealership. You can know every inch of the cars you work on and you will never have the opportunity to buy a dealership. Dealership owners all come out of the sales department. So what does that say about the standing and stature of mechanics in general?
Toddman
Pit Crew

^^ I could not agree more. Sales people only bring experience, the desire to sell and a ball point pen, that's it. An experienced technician has to bring @$50K or more in tools and pay to have it transported there.

Djarum
Intermediate Driver

I've gotta say, this is one of the best written articles I've seen on this subject in a long time.
knuck39
Intermediate Driver

very simple answer really....the equipment required to diagnose and training beyond required,the fact that everything has become far too complicated to work on ...you can blame every single manufacturer out there for that..
Reinhold_Weege
Instructor

Let me add another point for you to consider. At one time, this was how people bought televisions. When the technology advanced, the set was retired to a bedroom or basement. 

 

Tv.jpg

 

A wide variety of styles and women wearing gowns just to operate them. The men who serviced them could afford commercial leases/property, a van dedicated to service, thousands of 1960s dollars in tools. They probably paid for a suburban home and a shiny new Chrysler. (My alter-ego repair man prefers Zeniths and Mopars.)

 

Now it's a black rectangle that you throw away when it dies or requires a software upgrade. There will be mechanics in the future, but they'll probably service other objects as well, just as the last remaining legacy TV repair store in my neighborhood also fixes tablets and laptops while displaying antiques in the store window.

 

Tv2.JPG

That all said, this guy paid for his building and equipment decades ago. He is surely down to 1-2 employees and his largest annual bill is probably property taxes.  If you can't see the parallel, you aren't looking.

 

As the poet EZ-E used to say, "throw it in the gutter, an' go buy a'nother" Or in this case, "lease" another. 

Zephyr
Instructor

My son works as a service tech for a high end European appliance company. Same situation there - the expensive European appliances are worth fixing but anyone who works on American, Chinese or Korean appliances uses the phrase "it's not worth repairing" about five times a day. A big part of the problem is that everything is modular these days. Instead of replacing a vacuum tube or a $5 part, you have to replace the entire expensive circuit board.
Toddman
Pit Crew

^^ yes, exactly...................like selling buggy whips and sealing wax. 

Toddman
Pit Crew

I worked as a hourly mechanic in Farm dealer repair shops in the late 70's as a teenager in high school. After that I transitioned to Flat rate tech at a local branded gas station with 7 bays in 1981. I made 40% per customer labor hour which was @$40.00 then, and 10% of gross parts sold / installed. If I achieved 100% productivity for the week, I received an additional 10% labor that was retroactive back to the first day. We did everything there, but for body work and paint. They had an exhaust bender, Hunter alignment machine, torches and stick welder, etc. They had a lot of fleet accounts and I remember one thing............. that we were always busy and backlogged in work of every kind. The 'official' hours were 8-5 Mon-Fri with one half day Saturday per month required. We could of course, work longer hours if we choose to do so. It was a great learning experience / environment. Unfortunately, leaving there @2 years later to gain education and training I never, ever had that rate, hours, bonuses again.....................ever.

The auto business, especially at the dealer level has become 'bloated' much like the medical / care industry. Too much staff and administration costs passed onto the 'patient' and very little to the person actually giving the 'care'.
LoudV8
Intermediate Driver

Good article and on point. I too was a long time ASE master tech at a well equipped GM dealer and overall enjoyed my work. Not old enough to retire but saw my annual income stagnated and felt I was at the top of my game. So I took all my tools home and now work for an extended warranty company as an auto mechanical claims manager. Call me nuts but I do miss the shop at times and never regretted being a tech and shop foreman, however I don't miss the feast or famine flat rate roller coaster ride. Being a successful tech boils down to working at a well run, well equipped shop and keeping skills up to date with current technology. If a tech makes him/herself valuable there is money to be made. If it turns out unsuccessful, at least the experience gained can be a stepping stone to bigger and better things in the automotive industry.

Rich
Intermediate Driver

I almost made a comment about extended car warranty phone calls 😲

 

LoudV8
Intermediate Driver

I hate extended warranty robo calls and mailings too but the company I work for does not use either method. They have dealer networks.
Rich
Intermediate Driver

I find that for changing tires, alignments, A/C recharging—the kind of stuff that doesn’t require a hardcore diagnostic adventure to complete the service, the AAA shops do a good job for a fair price. For anything else, I'm fortunate to have found a small shop that can do everything I can't (or more often, don't want to) do myself. And, yes, the over-computerization of cars is a royal PITA for us all. 😞
Gonna keep my old cars forever!

TheCarGirl
New Driver

I have been in the car world as enthusiast, hobbyist and now professional for a very long-time 30+ years. We all know the automotive world is changing. Some of us can walk into our garages and look back 100 years at a car and a slight tilt of our head we can now take in the view of our car plugged in and awaiting our commands. It evolved as most industry will. We must adapt along with it and that means we must adapt our workforce along the same timeline. If we examine that timeline carefully and we unwind where we must start to fix this problem – its younger than you think. First, we must excite a new generation and nurture them through education and guide them into careers. Once there we should support them with competitive environments (salary, benefits, work life balance) and evolve new ways for them to grow, keep them educated and up to date and share appreciation, trust and ample rewards as a technician advances in their career. I am honored to work with a non-profit organization called TechForce that is working very hard to increase the number of technicians going into the education pipeline and graduating and moving ahead into technician careers. I highly recommend you all read the recent TechForce 2021 Supply and Demand Report and then get involved to help this team with its worthy mission. https://techforce.org/techforce-releases-the-2021-technician-supply-demand-report/ THANK YOU Hagerty for bringing a spotlight on this very important topic. Start them young and drive often.
Tinkerah
Engineer

Years ago when I was out of work I spread the word that I could do auto repair here in the driveway. I got serious about finding a real job when neighbors started questioning the ever changing line of cars in the driveway. Decades later, I still get an occasional call from someone who saved my number wondering if I'll do this or that ("sorry, not anymore"). An interesting phenomenon around here (Northeast U.S.) is the proliferation of auto techs posting their services on Craigslist. They'll show up at your home or workplace with their van full of tools and claim to be capable of an impressive range of work. Surely off the books but if competent likely a good value for customers, and a viable route for techs to capitalize on their skills.
okfoz
Advanced Driver

My biggest problem with the Auto repair industry is no one gives a crap about customer cars any more. I have gotten my car back and had grease on the interior door panel, or I get some mysterious new dent or ding, or one time I had troubleshot a problem, so I knew what the problem was, I tried talking to the mechanic and he wanted nothing to do with what I knew. He then tells me that it was problem X and I told him, I knew exactly what it was and if you took 2 min to let me talk I could have helped you. Then I had a car that had shaved door handles, I tried telling them how to get into my car, and they said "we know how to get in" I said, "ok" and left, about 30 min later I get a call asking how to get into my car. I said, "I thought you knew how to get in?" I told them there is a button. I had a pair of catalytic convertors go bad, and when they put it back together I had an exhaust leak, they put it back up in the air, and fixed the leak, but did not properly hang the O2 wires, and the wire was rubbing on the Driveshaft.
Any more, I do as much work as I humanly can, It gives me an excuse to buy a new tool, and I rarely end up with another problem.
Customer care sucks.
oldcardoc
Intermediate Driver

Especially if you didn't buy the car at that particular dealership,  LOL My  Friend has his own repair shop and stays up with the latest  info and repair needs for the newer cars and he says it's getting too expensive to buy the up grade software to trouble shoot the cars because they make changes daily now instead of yearly. They are in such a hurry to put new cars out that they dont  fix all the necessary  trouble spots  before they sell the car / truck they let the customer do the  testing and then  clip them a few hundred bucks to fix a problem they knew existed in the first place. Recalls are frequent and if you have to have more than one recall you should be able to return the car with a full refund or a different  problem car because they all have  problems. The U S  builds more junk these days  and the public has to  buy the car  twice before he/she sells it a few years down the road seems like  .

 

Balocco
Intermediate Driver

One of the great things about car collecting and culture is politics are usually left at the door. It’s disappointing to see the discussion here being poisoned by right/left talking points. Great article that discusses a problem faced by many industries in a balanced way.
janedon
Advanced Driver

It USED to be that shops would Train people--Now they demand yrs of experience-How do young folks get that experience when they don't get the chance- ??
oldcardoc
Intermediate Driver

My point exactly and why  are they built  with so many electronics , this  isn't an  airplane it's a car for crying out loud. They even  drive themselves and park themselves now, I say if you can't drive the  dang car yourself take a bus or train or plane or just walk. The way the electronics are today if they fail and they will  your in deep dodo real quick. I don't want to be on the road with people that can't drive ,it's bad enough  that we don't have that many good drivers now on the road .     Why do we need that junk on cars that should be an option like power windows  power brakes  etc. The day I can't drive my own car is the day I need to find some other form of transportation , it's just that simple. 

 

 

Toddman
Pit Crew

I've seen this in 4+ decades in the business. General Motors had training centers sprinkled over the country, one here in Fairfax Va. While I did not work at a GM dealership, my older brother did as a service manager. He 'sponsored' me in the 80's to go there for training. The place was unbelievable, beautiful inside like the Bellagio Hotel, with all the teachers wearing white lab coats and polished marble floors in the main area. Just like I had envisioned as kid reading technical magazines. One of the cars we trained on was a new, not yet released to the public Pontiac Fiero. I went there for a few years and found the training to be utmost professional, an example of where the industry was headed. But by the late -90's or so, GM started closing all of these centers to be replaced with content delivered via satellite. Sad really, I agree with the above post, no shop wants to spend the cash to train someone, period anymore.

oldcardoc
Intermediate Driver

New vehicles today are way to complicated and over redundant and make working on them far to expensive for the average person. I believe they are made that way to discourage the owners to maintain their own vehicles and have a dealer do the expensive work. I know that some dealers don't even have the qualified mechanics on hand and have a hard time repairing the cars and you get your car back and the problem still exist . Nope I won't buy a new car because I work on my own vehicles and have been a mechanic for over 50 years. I have cars that get 35 plus miles to the gallon and any body can repair them with little training. All the electronics these days are foolish to say the least and cost the public ridiculous amounts of money to keep them up and not only that they won't be around 30 years from now I bet, there is too much plastic and if they do I will be surprised. That's if I live that long . A small wreck can destroy the new cars  that older cars can survive and be repaired too. 

 

uweschmidt
Instructor

it started all a long time ago and far far away Plumbers electriciens carpenters Chimney sweepers etc belonged to a Guild A guild and its members were considered a highly hounorable institution and every one did his or her best to not bring disdain on this institution of course most proprieters belonged to the respective Guild they too were subject to the rules of the Guilds aconditions then the Unions slowly changed more and more demands for no more production and union management more interested in their renumeration then the welfare of the and proprieters more iterested in the bottom line and downhill all he way from there By the Way how many Auto mechanics with worn hands and bad Backs have you seen wearing a Rolex Watch?
DUB6
Specialist

The Farce is strong with @uweschmidt !  😄

uweschmidt
Instructor

You are Funny
autowriter
Detailer

I patronize a local independent mechanical service shop. The owner was a skilled mechanic in his time, but he now is mostly a resource for the three techs he has in the shop. The lead tech assures customers that if their car is there, it Will be fixed properly. He is teaching the other two techs the same ethic, and he checks their work. I don't argue the time or charges -- the work gets done properly every time. My daily driver is 23 years old. Runs like a top. I wouldn't even consider going to a dealer's shop. I leave a tip large enough for the shop to go to lunch at Christmas. The tire shop is a different independent shop, and the proprietor has found the best deals on tires from the C2500 pickup to the 66 Corvair convertible that needed a set of 7.00-13 bias ply tires for show. The family cars each have two sets of tires -- winter and summer -- mounted on separate wheels. The twice-yearly changeovers are at no charge. I got the changeover last week, and tipped the guy who usually does them $20 just because he gives excellent service. He was blown away by that -- apparently I'm the only customer who has bothered. In both shops, I am Very well taken care of, and I have no plans to shop around to find a slightly better price. Our cars run not just well, but Very well. Which is the entire idea, seems to me.
DUB6
Specialist

   This is how it should be.  I applaud the relationship that autowriter has developed with his shops.  After some suspension work on one of my vehicles, I asked the proprietor of a small local shop if his guys and gals liked the products served at a coffee shop that's next door.  He said they all did, so I went over and bought a large denomination gift card at the coffee place and gave it to the repair shop owner - telling him to let his people take it whenever they went over to get a drink or snack.  It apparently was not abused, but it was used, and it lasted quite some time.  If I ever need any more work done there, I will do something similar - the folks in that shop can and should be recognized and rewarded for what they do.  As @autowriter points out, even a relatively modest tip and a sincere "thank you" can go a very long way with techs who treat you and your vehicle well.

AreJay
Pit Crew

After years of avoiding quick lube outlets, I recently used one. I went because the dealership has been putting me through the same hard up sell routine that quick lube outlets do with added inconvenience of making me wait for hours. So, I drove up & then very deliberately explained to the technician that wanted nothing other than an oil change, that I know my car intimately & there is nothing else it needs and that if the oil pan drain is “stripped” he did it and I won’t pay for it. The young fellow listened sincerely, did a fine job, gave me a free set of wipers & installed them, I tipped him $20 & felt great about it. I shouldn’t really have to “make my case” for good service, but I’m glad I did. I’ll use the quick lube again.
Sta11ion
New Driver

  • I was a technician, got my apprenticeship in 1997 and license in toronto 2001. Started at a lousy $10 a hour. Ended up working for land rover then bmw moved to Suzuki DPSM then BMW Canada head office. In the end the knowledge I need to know about every manufacturer, diagnostic,  welding,  how things work, from understanding about computers, sensors then deal with administration, business etc is not worth it, left it in 2008.  I can do plumbing which the number rule is water goes down and keep up to date on new materials. electrician they change things under the code every couple years, any other trade  is no where need the knowledge for what you need to know as a mechanic. Even tools for any of those trades is 1/10 the price of a mechanic. The trade is done, I have warranty under my vehicles and I service them myself because the dealers fix one thing and break two things. When I started a few years prior starting  my apprenticeship owners of shops complained to the ministry that it was not worth to have unions because they were losing money. Well now GFY, they made this mess. A mechanic should be making more then the service advisor or any trade, Mechnics generate huge profit for the dealer. Back in 1998 shop rate was $110 an hour at least mechanics at land rover were pulling $35 an hour. Now it’s almost $200 an hour shop rate, and now a Mechnic is lucky to pull in $30 an hour.  This article is spot on. 
Indy5
New Driver

One likely reason so-called "educators" push kids toward universities instead of trade schools is because they have a better chance of ideologically indoctrinating them at the universities.
red-on-red
Intermediate Driver

Wow ... What a hot-button issue.
Get a job, pass the drug tests, show up for work every day, learn the job, and don't be a jerk.
Then you will be an asset that your employer can't afford to lose.

ryanwm80
Intermediate Driver

In the summer of 2014 I applied to an independent auto repair shop and didn't get hired, and at the time I was asked if I had worked at the Nissan dealer - I hadn't - and was told that everyone there has to get re-hired every year. I don't know if all Nissan dealers operate like that, or just that location, but if true, it sounds like there isn't much job security.

5 years earlier I had applied to a Pep Boys tire shop, but I was rejected immediately after taking an on-line assessment and not talking to anyone in person, but there seemed to be plenty of Mexicans working there.
jaysalserVW
Advanced Driver

Frankly--a lot of the blame lies at t he doors of the designers and manufacturers. They are adding electronic fru-fru faster than anyone can diagnose and repair it. Who makes the money?--the manufacturer! The Manufacturer doesn't give a rat's behind once the vehicle has sold. Who is stuck with trying to figure out what's wrong with the "whittle-bong"? The Service Centers at Dealerships and other service centers. The automotive industry has outdone itself--competing against each other for the most exclusive electronics--'till now--when they can't get the most essential electronic parts for the vehicles--now, they don't even have any vehicles to sell. The "ha-ha-has" are on them. All of this electronic stuff also depreciates quicker than you can say "put the brakes on!". Why?--the life-span of these modern electronic buckets of tinny sheet metal is short--unless you have deep pockets to keep then serviced. Maybe I'm just jaundiced--I am spoiled by the cars I have owned in my life-time. I am used to keeping a vehicle for at least 17 years--yes YEARS! My last one is 21 years old and still going. And looks nice. And starts, runs and stops any time I ask it to do so.
SJ100
Intermediate Driver

I sold Automotive Parts for 38 years. I was a Manager of different stores. Also a road salesman. I would talk and have coffee with the staff of many shops. When talking to the low end position of mechanic. The complaint was the same everywhere. The wages for these positions were never good enough to keep the employee there long. The managers for the most part were really good and cared for there customers. It's a business and you can't afford to pay high salary to everyone. That is why the basic service needs are subpar. At the low end level mechanic, he or she doesn't care enough as they look at their paycheck each pay period.
SJ100
Intermediate Driver

In reading some of these posts. It is so sad people always try to bring politics into a car forum. Shame on you. Yes we can all brag of our situation. Yet who are you trying to impress. Try to stay on topic please. I don't care if your Red or Blue. It's all laughable when you are north of the border. How each of you hate each other because of their political views. Please keep that crap to yourself. This is not the place. I love cars. Not politics.
DUB6
Specialist

Here, here!

SpoVly1970
New Driver

I've enjoyed conversing with the mechanics in different shops over the years and where the talent gets paid well and not by the certificates on the wall. I do my own shade-tree work but when it is over my head I go to the shop guys not their office staff for guidance. If they say no problem book the work with someone at the counter then I do it. It is a put-up or shut-up world in auto repair and should be the highest paid positions in the building, period, no discussion. Management, sales, and service writers absolutely should not be paid as well as the top techs in the building. The sales and office people have no jobs without great mechanics doing what inevitably needs done which is fixing stuff. The mechanics are the starters off the bench, the first inning players out of the dugout not the sales staff and office staff. Pay and praise them accordingly, hold them to a higher standard of diagnostic and repair, and great long career mechanics will be had.
mpford2010
New Driver

This is an amazing story about the industry, and quite honestly about the best one about the real truths of what is happening to the Fixed Operations end of the dealership. I have been in the industry since 2007 , and have said to this date that NOTHING has changed about it. It’s like it’s stuck in the past of what “used to be” , and refuses to move forward. Pretty much everything in this story is dead on accurate, with the exception of a few missing things that are also leading to this “Automotive Service Epidemic “.
1- The ever increasing amount of people self diagnosing their vehicles problems online , and then either trying to fix it themselves, or not fixing it and then begrudgingly having to go to the dealer to then pay to have it repaired. This not only removes the service dept and the tech from the equation, it now creates a problem that when the customer comes in , the not only have to pay for the diagnostic costs to figure out the problem, but also the tech has to spend more time than normal to possibly sort through someone else’s repairs. This frustrates the customer right from the get go , then if presented with one ends up trashing the service staff in the always fun CSI report cards
2- The non structured always changing , never the same sliding scale of the posted labor rates , salaries , vacation time ( or lack of) and general pricing for Service and parts dept items. I’m talking mostly about franchised dealerships. One of the things I’ve heard over the past thirteen or so years is customers asking how the labor rates work, and or why the differ from one dealer to the next. After thinking about , it actually is a logical question. It’s like going to five different Burger Kings in the same geographical area , and paying five completely different prices for the same Whopper. It’s mind boggling that the Automakers don’t have a structure , plan, agreement or something for the franchisee’s that they have to abide by in regards to a standard labor rates, salaries and general fees for each area. It’s like they don’t want to know what each dealer that represents them is charging the customer , or paying the employees, but loves to let them know how poorly they are doing in regards to their CSI index. Again it’s like the wild Wild West , fly by the seat of your pants to run the dealership, and represent the brand names , but with little to no structure. If the manufacturer made / forces the franchisee to abide a certain labor rate, salary standard and basic pricing then the owner , GM, and all the people all the way down couldn’t play “Cowboy “ and squeeze every penny they can from every one that walks in the door( customer or employee) like it’s the last one ever, based on how they felt that day. Maybe then the customer and employee would have a little more faith in the dealer and not want to keep “ fixing “ their own cars or going to the local mechanic to get a better deal, or not feel like they have gotten robbed. I also believe this would stop a lot of the internal BS of techs wanting to quit because of being underpaid and other salary related items in this story. I’m not saying all service and parts staff should be paid the same , but they should be paid on their experience and what they can offer based on at least some sort of standard starting point given by the manufacturer for that area of the country. It’s kind of like a new vehicle has an MSRP that the dealer has to base the sale of off , give or take. Same should go for the above items, and maybe just maybe we in the auto industry can survive just a little longer.
DUB6
Specialist

Informative!

Anon
New Driver

I have been working in the automotive industry for about 15 years as a dealership tech, with multiple manufacturers and owners. Every dealership i’ve worked at has had the same issues. The flat rate system is a way to reduce the dealership cost. If i don’t produce hours, they don’t have to pay me, there are no laws around that. The guys that have been there the longuest or have the best relationship with the dispatcher somehow get all the “good paying” work. As for the advisors, most dealerships i’ve worked at hire the cheapest body they can put up there that can upsell the most useless services. Then you have the techs that will either fire parts at a car, or call brakes when they are at 70% or more. Your car needs an alignment… oh they’ll just tap the heads into place without actually doing the alignment. The honest mechanics will struggle to make a living. There is no incentive for me to train a new apprentice, i don’t get any benefit whatsoever by passing on my knowledge. Want to get paid for warranty diag…? Nope, you’ll be lucky if you can claim straight time, and warranty parts replacement is usually 40% of what retail pays me… so why should I produce the same quality of work for 60% less pay? I have made many suggestions to improve the system, or put systems in place, but the problem is management is payed based on labour hours sold, why would they stop a crooked tech from paying their bills….? If the industry is struggling to find good techs… chances are you have a couple in your shop, start listening to them, treat them with respect and pay them for their time!
hyperv6
Racer

Here is my take in the mid west. The problem is the shortage of peop,e willing to make a living working with their hands.

So many go to collage major in what ever and run up major school school bills they can’t pay.

Today we have shortages of plumbers, mechanics HVAC techs, welders.

My father in law made 6 figures welding and when he retired they had to call him back to do jobs no one else could do.

I often find good mechanics making more than many collage grads.

Now the harsh truth is not all mechanics are worth big dollars. The highly skilled ones yes not someone with out training.

My buddy does well enough wrenching he has his own plane.

The money is there but people need to get the training and experience to make the money.

Everyone should make more money but then prices go up and we are back in the same spot.

The way forward is not just to hand money out but train, learn and gain more skills and experience. Most good wrenches started out just changing oil. The go to school and gain certifications. That is the way forward.

The real trick is to get young people to not be afraid to get dirty and be willing to work with their hands.

My son is getting his masters and yet I am going to get my father in law to teach him how to weld. Why some day that skill just may pay more.

The Dirty Jobs guy is a real promoter of skilled labor jobs and how it is in great decline. He tried to promote these jobs and just how rewarding many can be financially.