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Old 07-18-2004, 09:13 PM   #1
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The Truth About The Auto Repair Industry

This is an article I found on the web. Now please read this as it impacts all of the car owners getting their cars worked on in a dealer or an outside shop. This is how it works use it to learn and to prevent getting ripped off by any shop.

"After working over 15 years in the auto repair industry, I have some insight I would like to share with everyone. The auto repair industry has changed quite a bit over the years as more complex automobiles have driven a new kind of mechanic into existence. Some of this has fostered smarter, better trained mechanics. However, it has developed the parts swapping business into enormous proportions. Part of the reason I changed careers was because I was so frustrated by working in such a crooked environment. Bad mechanics that lacked morals made the most money and honest ones lagged behind significantly. One key problem with the auto repair industry is the flat rate pay system which nearly all repair shops use. Basically it works like this: Labor time manuals are printed by the manufacturer for warranty repair time standards. These are times for a given job that are preset and are rounded to the nearest 1/10 of an hour. For instance, the replacement of an ignition module on a particular car may pay 1.1 hours in the warranty manual. That means that no matter how long it takes the mechanic to change that module, he still gets paid 1.1 hours. Aftermarket flat rate manuals are used for after warranty repairs. These manuals usually just take the warranty manual and multiply the time by 1.5. In some cases special times will be used instead. A mechanics flat rate time charge is usually referred to as a flag. For instance, the mechanic changing the module above will flag 1.1 hours for it under warranty or 1.7 hours retail..
Most mechanics are paid 100% commission based on what they flag. This is not always true but it is the overwhelming majority that are paid this way. For these mechanics, the motivation is to flag as many hours per day as possible. It is not impossible, or even that uncommon, for a mechanic to flag over 16 hours in an 8 hour day. The mechanic will make a given wage per flat rate hour. If he flags no time in a given day, he makes no money at all. Few shops guarantee a minimum income. There is no real maximum either. It is not unheard of for a fast, crooked mechanic to flag well over 80 hours in 5 day a week while working only a little over 8 hours per day. Thats not to say all mechanics that flag big hours are crooks though. The work load can be seasonal too. It was quite common to have a 50% or more pay fluctuation (flagged hours) from winter to summer.
The shop effectively makes a portion of what the mechanic flags so they too are interested in having the mechanic flag as many hours per day as possible. There is little motivation to be honest and quite a bit of motivation to rip off the customers. Most shops will not pay a mechanic to do a job twice. If a mechanic changed a water pump for instance, and the car came back with a leaking water pump gasket, the mechanic would have to replace the gasket and charge no time. The problem is that it is in the best interest of the shop and mechanic to blame the leak on something else that they can charge the customer for. Electrical and electronic parts typically have about a 30% to 60% no fault found rate on warranty returns. That means that about 30% to 40% were misdiagnosed in the field or the failure was not found during lab analysis.
Dealers/managers love those high speed guys because they make the company a ton of money. They figure what's a few blown out customers compared to a good profit. They're not going away, in fact, they are becoming all too common because that's what it's coming down too. Tech's haven't got a cost of living increase in years. When you ask a manager for a raise he says, "You want a raise, make more hours!" A few managers base their mechanics pay on hours produced. Techs working over 80 hours a week got a $2 per hour raise over a 40 hour tech. It is the exception to find a company giving a raise to the tech with the highest customer satisfaction.
There is not really a flat rate time for diagnosis in most cases. This means that a good mechanic that can troubleshoot a problem in 0.5 hours may charge significantly less than a clueless mechanic that spends 2 days swapping parts to figure it out. In the first case, an honest mechanic will flag 0.5 hours. Some may claim that since they are so smart, they will flag 0.8. In the second case, the same repair will cost the customer 2 full days plus any additional parts that were swapped as a guess. Again, there is very little incentive for the shop owner to intervene unless the customer complains.
Many mechanics will guess and swap parts until the problems are solved or the customer runs out of money. Only about one quarter of the mechanics out there can really troubleshoot problems accurately. Of those, only a portion can troubleshoot intermittent and more difficult problems. Most electrical and driveability problems on today's automobiles are intermittent. If you find a good mechanic you can trust, stick with him and tell all your friends.
On the other side of things, mechanics are often blamed for problems they did not cause. It seems all too often that a customer would claim the oil change we did caused their headlamps to flicker intermittently or some other bizarre problem that is in no way connected. Customers also seem to think that today's cars are smart and that there is some mystery machine hidden in the the shop that, when plugged into the car, will tell the mechanic everything that is wrong from low tire pressure to internal engine problems. This is far from accurate. Yes, modern cars do have sophisticated electronics on them and they do give the mechanic information such are fault codes and data values but they don't troubleshoot and they never will. On board software does have the capability of determining an out of range sensor or improper outputs. It can give the mechanic valuable information to help him narrow a problem down. It will never troubleshoot for him! An engine control for instance, which is generally the most sophisticated control on the vehicle, can only read values at the pins that connect it to the wiring harnesses. It can determine if a circuit is open or shorted or out of normal range but that is about it. It is up to the the well trained, smart mechanic to determine where the actual fault is. As I said earlier, most electrical and driveability problems are intermittent. That means that no matter what tests you run, chances are they will all pass. This is where data loggers and real smarts come into play.
It seems for the most part that bigger cities have more crooked shops than smaller ones. I think this is because a poor reputation in a small town will put you out of business whereas in a big city there are plenty of customers to go around. The strategy is usually to get all they can out of you when you do come if assuming you won't be back anyway. Also watch out for "mechanic of the month" award winners. These guys are usually the ones who flag the most hours to get a bonus on top of it. They are generally the most crooked as well.
Examples
I will now give a few real world examples of some of the things that go on in a shop. A new car dealer had a scam going that involved all the service personnel. They would bring new cars right in off the convoy truck and claim every one had alignment problems, driveability problems, and transmissions problems. Each of 3 mechanics would flag the maximum allowable time for work they supposedly did although no work was really performed on most of the vehicles. While these were all warranty claims, it is still fraud and the manufacturer was getting ripped off for more than a year. Some of these mechanics were being paid a 6 figure income by all the phony time they flagged. The dealership was finally caught and closed down but those same mechanics got jobs at other dealers. How would you like one of them working on your car?
A little old lady brought her car into a shop. A mechanic sold her over $2000 worth of parts and labor and the car was still not fixed. After all of that, it turned out there was a bad spark plug wire causing an intermittent misfire. The customer was still charged the full amount and none of the unnecessary parts were removed.
One mechanic was charging for piston ring replacements on certain vehicles under warranty on a routine basis. Few of the engines were ever taken apart. He would work at a dealer for a year or so until others would start to suspect and then go to another dealer to do it again. He rarely worked a full day but typically got paid over 12 hours per day.
During the 1980's, before detergent gasoline and deposit resistant injectors, the injectors would periodically need professional cleaning. The process typically pays about 1 hour but really only takes about 15 minutes of a mechanics time since he can connect the machine, start the process, and do other work while the injectors are being cleaned. Starting in the late 1980's, deposit resistant injectors were introduced and detergents were added to gasoline to prevent clogged injectors. Some mechanics will still try to sell you an injector clean as maintenance. There are cases where injectors may need to be cleaned to correct poor running but it is really not a maintenence item anymore. Another similar situation arises with the throttle body. Throttle bodies will sludge up, especially if you use natural (non-synthetic) oils. It was common in the 1980's to periodically clean the throttle body. In the early 1990's, new measures were taken to eliminate the need to clean the throttle body. In fact, some throttle bodies come pre-sludged with a special coating to allow proper idle speed. If you remove the coating, your idle may be too high. Some mechanics still sell throttle body cleaning as a maintenance item. It generally takes about 5 minutes and they will charge you an hour. In some cases it will actually cause an idle problem where one was not previously present.
Warning signs?
There are a few warning signs you can watch out for:
  • Does your mechanic claim you need more than one part to repair a given concern? If so it is questionable. While it is possible to have multiple failures contribute to a symptom, it is more likely a single part or condition is at fault. Occasionally you could have one component failure cause another component failure but that is also less likely. Always ask for a detailed explanation of what the root cause of the failure was. Beware of the parts swapper who wants to change every part that he thinks may be causing the problem. A typical example would be an EGR system. Many mechanics will claim that the EGR valve and sensor should both be changed if either is faulty. This is generally not true. There were cases in the 1980's when redesigned valves would not work without a redesigned sensor but generally either one or the other is the problem, not both. Sometimes the mechanic will recommend several parts but only 1 may be associated with your original concern. That is OK as long as he explains what all the parts are needed for. Often times he is trying to sell you maintenance work or has found worn parts that do need replacement. There should be a reason for every parts that is replaced.
  • Do they claim that you need "maintenance" work that does not show up in the factory maintenance guides? Like I mentioned above in the examples section, there are many maintenance procedures that are no longer needed but are still sold as required. The injector cleaning and throttle body cleaning are 2 examples. Most late model vehicles require very little maintenance compared to those of 10 years ago. Today's cars will never need a tune up. Most cars will need spark plugs replaced at 100k miles but no adjustments are ever needed. The timing and idle adjustments and other things that were part of a tune up are history. None of that is adjustable anymore. All you need is spark plugs, drive belts, brakes, oil, and filters for maintenance on most cars. Most wheel bearings are not serviceable anymore either. Always check your factory maintenance guides to see what is really required (that is if you can find a good one).
  • Are they trying to sell you brakes? In many cases poor driving habits will lead to premature brake wear. I have seen poor drivers destroy brake pads in less than 25k miles. However, upselling brakes is one of the most common scams some mechanics will try. Typically, you should be able to run your brakes down to about 15% remaining before you need to consider replacement. It is too common for some mechanics to try to sell brakes at 50%.
  • Are they spending too much troubleshooting time? This is really difficult to determine if you are getting a fair deal or not. I found that people would generally rather pay to swap out parts than to properly troubleshoot a problem. Generally, any hard failure, one that is always occurring and not intermittent, should take less than a couple hours to troubleshoot but even that is a rough estimate. Intermittent problems are the hard, and more common, ones. If the problem is only an inconvenience, such as a hesitation, lack of power, or intermittent problem with a non-essential electrical system, it is best to let it get bad enough that it can be easily duplicated before bringing it in to a mechanic. Things such as the yellow "check engine" or "service engine soon" light are best to wait until they are on constant as long as no other symptoms exist. It is not a bad idea to have a quick checkout of 1 hour or so to see if it is something simple but spending much more than that on a real intermittent problem can be futile. If it is a significant problem, like dying, then you had better get it fixed. This means determining the actual root cause of the problem, not just swapping parts until it seems better. In some cases if there is a significant problem that happens so rarely it can't be verified by the mechanic, educated guesses may be your best option. However, that decision should be made by you and your mechanic should have already checked TSB's and recalls to make sure it is not a known problem with a fix, and done a thorough inspection and basic testing to see if the root cause could be determined.
  • Are they selling you a tune-up? Vehicles built in the last 10 years or so do not need tune-ups. They do need spark plugs and filters but that is it. There are no adjustments or other maintenance required. You don't need to scan for codes either. Even on vehicles with adjustable timing, it no longer needs any adjustment unless you are having a problem. It will not vary a significant amount in the first 100k miles. If your vehicle is due for spark plugs, get them replaced. You need to change air and fuel filters too but that is about it. Again, consult your factory maintenance guides.
What Can You Do?
  • Whenever possible, use a specialist. Today's cars are too complex for one person to be expert on everything. Generally the categories are: driveability, electrical (although driveability and electrical are about the same thing today), transmission, alignment, heavy line, light line, and maintenance. A good mechanic may have a couple categories he is strong in. It is important that a mechanic is well rounded and have knowledge of the complete vehicle. He could probably perform tasks other than his specialty but his specialty area should be by far his strong point and it should also be what he concentrates on. Compare it to a doctor. You do not want a skin cancer specialist doing heart bypasses. The same is true in the automotive field. Dealerships have the best tools and training and usually have enough mechanics to have specialists. Many times however, independent shops will be more honest.
  • Avoid the "mechanic of the month" award winners. These guys usually get there by flagging the most hours. That is a warning sign that he likely has the least morals and will try to get all he can out of you. That is not always the case but it is a warning sign to me. This can be a tough call. There are times when this guy is just fast and good.
  • Explain your problem in as much detail as possible. Don't just say "it runs bad". Explain exactly when it does it, how often it does it, when it started, how you are driving it when it happens, etc. Don't try to diagnose it! I used to have customers say things like "I think it's the carburetor" all the time. That does no good. I got the worst problem descriptions from men who wanted to appear knowledgeable rather than just describe the problem in plain language. Women were usually better about just describing the symptoms. If the problem is intermittent to any degree, say so. The absolute best thing to do is to take the mechanic for a ride in the car and show him exactly your concern. Make sure you are driving so you can show him exactly what your problem is, then let him try to duplicate it.
  • Use word-of-mouth to find an honest mechanic. Beware however that some people don't know a rip-off even after it has happened repeatedly to them. If they recommend someone, ask for details. Was more than one part required for the repair? If so, why? What other work was sold to them at the same time? Once you find an honest mechanic, stick with him. Get his name and request him every time. Tell all your friends. There are still many good, smart, honest mechanics out there and they deserve all the good business they can handle. This too may be difficult to determine word of mouth since some people think they are getting ripped off when they are not at all.
  • If you get ripped off, tell everyone you know, fight it with the shop owner, and make as much of a stink about it as you can. Don't let them get away with it. Report it to the Better Business Bureau. It is time to send a strong message to crooked mechanics and shops. Shut them down.
Lacking knowledge of modern automobiles can really open you up to rip off artists. ASE certification does not mean you have competent techs, although it is a step in the right direction. I passed the heavy duty truck brake tests and I had no idea how the systems even worked and had never worked on one. I also passed the transmission tests with little knowledge or experience on transmissions. The tests are generally too easy and they give no indication of how honest the mechanic is. While ASE may attempt to better the repair industry, and they do help, they can't fix the root cause of the problems. I would, however, recommend ASE certified mechanics over those that are not. I want to make it clear however that there are some very sharp and honest mechanics out there who are underpaid for their ability. Sadly, it is the parts swappers and mechanics that do maintenance that really bring home the most money despite lower pay per flat rate hour in many cases than specialists. Training usually pays actual time at best. Some dealers don't even pay for training. The affect is that mechanics have less motivation to attend classes. Most vehicle manufacturers now require at least some degree of training which is helping to drive the right behavior. Modern mechanics working on high-tech systems require a significantly higher skill set than mechanics of yesterday. Vehicles have become very complex. Most of the problems on these high-tech systems are intermittent making it even harder. Some manufacturers don't seem to understand what it takes to troubleshoot problems on these modern systems and believe that the mechanics out there simply don't have the aptitude to learn what they need to so they don't give the detail of information required to really understand these systems. This adds to the challenges a good mechanic faces. Modern vehicle troubleshooting requires many of the techniques a doctor would use to troubleshoot problems with humans. The real frustration comes when these vehicle doctors take home less money than a mechanic that just swaps parts. I would guess that only about 10% of the mechanics out there fit into the vehicle doctor category. Another 20% have some skills for troubleshooting. Many of the rest just swap parts and their skill is the speed at which they can change these parts. Often it is the doctors who really end up troubleshooting most of the problems for the others but he does not make the money for it. That should be improving as vehicles become more complex.
Modern vehicles are significantly more reliable than older ones. The newer the better. Modern vehicles require very little maintenance and very few repairs compared to those just 10 years earlier. Generally, any of the larger automakers make a better quality product today than the best cars of 10 years ago.
I blame most of the problems with the repair industry on the flat rate pay system. It can drive the wrong behavior throughout the organization. It gives clear incentive to go for speed and not accuracy. How would you like your pay cut in half because business was slow. Go home and tell your family that and see how it makes you feel. Upsell becomes easier to justify. It can be a very stressful living. Now work in those conditions and watch the guy next to you cheat the system and rake in the money with bonuses and praise from management to boot. Mechanics are no more dishonest than anyone else by nature, flat rate pay is to blame. "
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Old 07-24-2004, 01:39 PM   #2
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Re: The Truth About The Auto Repair Industry

Very good advice.
The flat rate system is ripe for abuse. As a mechanic apprentice back in the late 80's the most vauable things I learned were not about diagnosis, but the short cuts to save time and do a job quicker, (but not necessarily better).
I got out of the industry because it's exploitive and depressing, although a lot of that was related to the poorly- run GM dealership I worked at.
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Old 11-04-2004, 02:04 PM   #3
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Re: The Truth About The Auto Repair Industry

Very good article! Heed what is said about modern cars!
I can add a bit. California has a government agency under the Department of Consumer Affairs, known as the Bureau of Automotive Repair. If, in the judgement of the bureau, a customer was ripped off, they will fine the shop, and in many cases, pull their business liscense. My experience in the dealerships there, was that they are as "safe" as any repair shop around. The other states could use the California system as a blueprint, to help in the problem.
Another problem we often see, is a shade tree or ammetuer mechanic tries to repair a problem in a modern car, only to fail because of the lack of understanding and equipment. Many people still believe you can repair your late model Impala as easily as you could that old '67 Bel Air. So why should they pay more for a "trained" mechanic?
And don't forget, mechanics are just like whores. They lay on their back and screw the public... This is simply not true. There are dishonest techs out there, but there are also many VERY good honest techs. And, as the above article states, they (the honest ones) usually don't make as much money as the dishonest ones. That's true in every sector of our society. An honest lawyer (what a concept!) won't make NEAR as much as one that doesn't care whether or not their client is actually guilty... But they can sleep at night. I know at least two of these lwayers.
FWIW, if a flat-rate mechanic doesn't have enough work to keep im busy for the week, federal labor laws allow that they must make AT LEAST minimum wage for the week, IF they spend the 40 hours at the job. Management of course, doesn't tell their technicians this, but it's true, nevertheless.
The best agency to check with, as to the honor and competence of a given shop, is the Better Business Bureau. While they have no REAL power, they keep an ongoing list of "good guys" and "bad guys". If a shop has one or two complaints against it, that may not mean anything, as you can't please EVERYONE. But if they have three or more complaints, especially in a short period of time, DANGER! WARNING, Will Robinson... Any current "member in good standing", is a shop that has been in business for more than 2 years, without a legitimate complaint against them.
Our shop was sued by an individual. It is the only time our integrity has been challenged. The judge listened pateiently to his complaint. He listened to my explanation of the "big picture". it was immediatley obvious to the judge, the plaintiff was just trying to "get something for nothing". We had fullfilled (and then some) our responsibilities to the customer. The case was dismissed, and the plaintiff was admonished by the judge, for wasting everyone's time. The point? Be sure you are right in your assessment of the complaint before taking rash action. As stated, it isn't always the technician. And customer expectations can also be a problem. Remember this is a very "technical" field. The old addage "the customer is always right" doesn't always apply. Some customers will rely more on their neighbor that "fools with race cars" for information, than they will a professional technician. We repair a lot of damaged engines due to this outlook.
In short, not ALL of us are crooks. Some of us actually give a shit!
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Old 02-15-2005, 10:19 AM   #4
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Re: The Truth About The Auto Repair Industry

How come I'm not surprised?

Because of places like those mentioned, and I found a few myself, no one but me touches or repairs my cars but me,All engine, transmission, paint work ,etc done out of one hand, my own. So I know what I got. Done better than most "professional" jobs.
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Old 02-20-2005, 09:25 PM   #5
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Now i know why i do my own wrenching
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Old 08-02-2005, 11:59 AM   #6
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Re: The Truth About The Auto Repair Industry

Good Article Flatrater. I highly agree mechanics are over work and under payed(at dealershits). I worked as a GM mech. from 90-93 and it sucked. I wound charge the time it took not the max limit in the Time Code book. But the shop super would always change it to get more money. I was told if the Customer hasn't complained about something it's not broke. Meaning if it's broke and they don't know and it's not a life threatening ie. steering, suspension etc, let them come back later so we could bill them again. So I just walked out, I seen nothing wrong with informing the caars owner that ya we fixed the trouble but your sparkplugs wires are shorting out. That was a big NO NO to the dealer! Now there is almost no contact with the accuall mechanic who done the work. After that I worked at a body shop, it was even worse. Charge for NEW parts when they came for out back or some other used salvage yard.
So today I have my own Shoppe. I make great money, no complaints yet, I have a cute little sign in my office;Labor $40 an hour; if you want to watch $50hr.;if you worked on it before $60hr.; if you want to help $70hr. People get a kick outta that. I had seen a pitition at my local Autozone this year, that the Dealerships were trying to stop consumers from doing there own work, I signed against that rightaway. It's just all about making more money. \,,/ \,,/
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Old 08-11-2005, 04:45 PM   #7
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excellent post flatrater.
EXACTLY why I walked from a Cadillac dealership in Denver because I wotked and slaved for the customer, but in the end, the guy next to me, with 1/10 the certification, skills, and integrity, made THREE times as much for selling brakes and batteries(and some of them didn't even get installed)!..
now I, like many, do all my own work, save paint and body (I'll rip it off before it rusts off), and assist as many as possible; to have a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that every time one of the honest educates the masses, a "dishonest" dealership slowly dies.
thanks again flatrater,
and thanks to Automotive Forums and their fellowship.
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Old 12-03-2005, 01:55 AM   #8
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Re: Re: The Truth About The Auto Repair Industry

I agree excellent post, and exactly the same reason why I got out of the automotive business in 1999. I had had it with dealerships and shops in 1995, and ended up going to work for Zoomers Automotive in Denver building custom cars and hot rods. I was paid straight time, and there was no flat rate on those cars. However the owner still f#*ked with us over job times. He used to have us do work over, just so he could bill more time for the jobs. When he would walk up and look at something I had built, and tell me to change this or that, I would mess around for an hour doing nothing, and then he would say, "oh that looks much better" when I hadn't even touched it. One day he caught me doing this, and I told him that I was tired of him messing with us just to bill more hours for a job. I asked that he stop messing around, and if we completed something in 2 hours and he thought it should take 4, then just bill for 4 hours, and leave us alone. He started doing such!!! It was still dishonest, as he sold the jobs as straight time!!!!

I now work in the IT field as a Network Analyst, and make good money for what I do. I just got tired of seeing dishonest techs make killer money while I starved being honest. I just can't bring myself to screw customers over for my own personal gain.

I still do all my own work on my vehicles!!!!!!!!!!

They are also correct though, as I am just a parts repalcer. My troubleshooting in the area of electronics is sorely limited. I do all my own work, but still take it to the dealership for diagnostics. Everytime I don't I screw myself guessing replacing parts I don't need, and I wouldn't do that on a customers car!!!!

Funny story, a shop in Denver off of Federal Blvd. had a sign out front that said "Honest mechanic wanted for employment, apply within". They had the sign out front for over a year. I used to laugh and think to myself, all the honest mechanics must have left Denver or gone to work in another field!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 12-03-2005, 08:19 AM   #9
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Re: Re: Re: The Truth About The Auto Repair Industry

Quote:
Originally Posted by starsil9
I agree excellent post, and exactly the same reason why I got out of the automotive business in 1999. I had had it with dealerships and shops in 1995, and ended up going to work for Zoomers Automotive in Denver building custom cars and hot rods. I was paid straight time, and there was no flat rate on those cars. However the owner still f#*ked with us over job times. He used to have us do work over, just so he could bill more time for the jobs. When he would walk up and look at something I had built, and tell me to change this or that, I would mess around for an hour doing nothing, and then he would say, "oh that looks much better" when I hadn't even touched it. One day he caught me doing this, and I told him that I was tired of him messing with us just to bill more hours for a job. I asked that he stop messing around, and if we completed something in 2 hours and he thought it should take 4, then just bill for 4 hours, and leave us alone. He started doing such!!! It was still dishonest, as he sold the jobs as straight time!!!!

I now work in the IT field as a Network Analyst, and make good money for what I do. I just got tired of seeing dishonest techs make killer money while I starved being honest. I just can't bring myself to screw customers over for my own personal gain.

I still do all my own work on my vehicles!!!!!!!!!!

They are also correct though, as I am just a parts repalcer. My troubleshooting in the area of electronics is sorely limited. I do all my own work, but still take it to the dealership for diagnostics. Everytime I don't I screw myself guessing replacing parts I don't need, and I wouldn't do that on a customers car!!!!

Funny story, a shop in Denver off of Federal Blvd. had a sign out front that said "Honest mechanic wanted for employment, apply within". They had the sign out front for over a year. I used to laugh and think to myself, all the honest mechanics must have left Denver or gone to work in another field!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 08-25-2006, 11:57 PM   #10
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Re: The Truth About The Auto Repair Industry

My son is going to UTI to learn how to be an auto tech.After reading this I don't know if it is a good idea.Are there many honest dealers to work for and make good money?
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Old 10-10-2006, 11:56 PM   #11
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Re: The Truth About The Auto Repair Industry

I'll try this again since my first attempt to post did not work. I agree totally with Flatrater's article and the replies. I've worked in the automotive repair field for 38 years and I hope to soon leave the industry. It's got the same problem now it had 50 years ago only now it's worse because of the complex technology. The need for competent techs continues. The trade mags still whine about the shortage but I think they continue to miss the point. Can you think of any other occupation where you have to train and update your knowledge on a continuing basis, invest in a set of tools and specialty items plus a box to store them for about $65 to $75,000.00 at todays prices for quality tools ? And then be paid like a real estate agent on commission ? Most of the time I've made a decent living and sometimes I starved on commission. Shop owners love this system but for employees it sucks and the industry refuses to change and get real about the cost of doing business and being fair to quality employees. Would I advise a young person to consider doing this for a living ? Fat chance unless some earth shattering changes occur to end the consumer ripoffs. Common sense and not rocket science.
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Old 10-11-2006, 04:37 PM   #12
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Re: The Truth About The Auto Repair Industry

I can tell you a union tech in the NYC are is guaranteed 40 hours pay even if he produces 30 hours of labor, of course he would be under pressure to get up to speed, but that is the contract and has been for 30 years. My techs at our GM store made way less on the same system as the Toyota dealership, warranty 70% at the gm stores, 25% at the toyota stores, this was up to 1996.
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Old 10-11-2006, 04:49 PM   #13
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Re: The Truth About The Auto Repair Industry

Heys guys quit your whining.

I think we should unsticky this old thread and let it rip.



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Old 12-01-2006, 01:34 PM   #14
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Re: The Truth About The Auto Repair Industry

Since Bob gave us the ok (although it was a while ago) to reply again to this thread, I'll put in my

Not only are most shop owners boning their customers on labor, they also scam their customers on parts prices. The accepted industry standard is to mark up parts close to 100%. This means that the customer pays $100 for the part that only cost the shop $50. Then the shop owners beat up on their parts suppliers (I work in the parts industry) to match the price of box store generic parts on AC-Delco parts. The parts store makes only 25-30% profit on the part, plus has the expense of stocking and delivering them, so that these rapists can make make more money than we do on the part, and they have no parts overhead. Some will even attempt to "warranty" the part through their supplier, but charge the customer full price. It's rediculous.
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Old 12-01-2006, 07:27 PM   #15
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Re: The Truth About The Auto Repair Industry

Quote:
Originally Posted by richtazz
Since Bob gave us the ok (although it was a while ago) to reply again to this thread, I'll put in my
I did Rich?

Actually I was referring to closing the thread and unsticky it. IMO it doesn't serve any purpose anymore.

BTW - The auto industry mark up is nothing. High tech fields like biomedical and medical is anywheres from 2X to 5X markup. "Only candy store" in town mentality.

At least you can get good deals on car parts by shopping around. The same with service.



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