I’ve been seeing advertising online for a new mobile mechanic site. I won’t name it. There’s another one that I’ve used before and got the mechanics card and contacted him directly for a service later at a lower cash price. I’ve learned to obtain information from the internet to do almost any car repair so I don’t use them anymore.
Basically, it’s kind of like an Uber for car mechanics. “Certified” mechanics get validated with the site and then customers in that area can get quotes and schedule service from any address that has “mechanics” available. Supposedly it’s cheaper than a shop and the mobile feature is obviously quite convenient.
Do you think that this is a threat to the existence of the shops that have the lease fees and staff to pay for or what’s your opinion about it?
They are just performing basic maintenance, or preventative maintenance. There are certain things you need to do in a shop on a lift. I suppose they could bring a portable lift, but that would be troublesome.
I think they are fine for the PM (oil changes, tranny fluid changes…maybe change the wiper blades. I think their price model is going to be high because they now have to factor in travel, setup and teardown.
From what I’ve seen they have quite extensive services available.There’s also an option of supplying your own part so there’s not that awkwardness with shop of trying to do so. If it can be done within 2-3 hours and with a large floor jack it’s on there. That’s a good point that a shop has more time and the lift.
Keep in mind you are paying for the mechanics travel time. I don’t think this is a business model to save money so much as a convienience.
Amazon brings products to your home, Publix delivers groceries, so why not a mobile mechanic?
This mechanic going to replace your brakes on a mud covered uneven driveway during a rain storm?
How about replacing a clutch?
Back in the 70’s there was this thing called self help garages (or rent a bay). A backyard mechanic would rent a bay at a garage (and possibly rent tools) to do their own work. Nice idea in theory, but wasn’t very practical. All the ones I knew about are gone now.
I’m aware of a few in the greater Seattle area but none down here yet. More for convenience than anything else.
As Mustangman pointed out, I don’t see why not. With all the home delivery services, rideshare stuff being offered now, this is just another convenience for people. I think a lot of people will go for it. A lot can be done with a jack and jackstands. For soft ground, a plywood base would prevent them sinking in. Jackstands are adjustable and handle uneven terrain just fine. If the guy wants to work in the rain, what difference does that make to me? Maybe he even has a pop up shelter. I have one, it takes a few minutes to set up. Heck, that might even be nice to block the sun while working. Yes, the bigger jobs like clutches and transmission work will be left to a formal shop. But there are many repair jobs that could be handled in your driveway. I do them, why couldn’t someone else?
Tough to imagine this would be cheaper; customers would have to pay for travel time and it seems tougher to manage parts inventory, tools, and supplies.
That being said, I’m sure there are niche markets and customers that a mobile mechanic could be quite successful, such as limiting the makes or the area or focusing on fleet maintenance. I just don’t see it replacing the shop.
Honestly any repair more complicated than replacing a belt or battery or possibly and alternator opens up a costly can of worms. In order to make a good living my shop had 2 lifts and 7 open bays and for the vast majority of years there I had one mechanic and myself actually working on cars and every inch of floor space was needed along with 5 shop owned tool boxes and all the miscellaneous large and small pieces of equipment. An acetylene torch was often needed when replacing water pumps, ball joints, u-joints, etc. And a 20 ton press with more than 100 pounds of adapters never got dusty.
If a head gasket was to be replaced all gaskets and seals that might be needed were on hand when the hood was raised and while the engine drained the mechanic was test driving the last job and bringing in the next. Standing around smoking cigarettes while antifreeze dribbles out of a radiator is a slow trip to the poor house. At any moment a mechanic had 2 or more work orders in progress so that if an unexpected part was found needing replacement there was work just steps away to jump on while the customer was notified and the part ordered. Working in someones driveway would often keep a mechanic tied up all day on a 1 hour repair or worse driving back and forth to a parts house X miles away possibly several times. Snaking out sewers would be a much more profitable way to be self employed.
Such a thing could hurt the local inde shop b/c many simple jobs that pay the inde shop’s basic bills could get diverted to the mobile mechanic. Sort of like how a big box hardware store runs the local hardware stores out of business, even though the big box store doesn’t stock all the specialty stuff the local hardware store does. Reminds me, a couple months ago I was in the big box hardware store asking for a small winch.
Staff: A what?
Staff: Ok, they are on aisle 6.
Me: Those are wrenches. I’m looking for a winch.
Staff: A what?
Staff (typing into the computer): Sorry, we do not carry a wench
Me: Not wench, winch. Try looking up cable winch.
Staff: Sorry, we have no table wrenches …
… lol …
There have been 2 determined efforts made at mobile mechanic work in my neighborhood and the only effect they had on me was wasting time refusing to look at cars that had been worked on in the owners driveway. Like so many who want to be self employed mechanics the on the fly type find themselves up against the wall and clock and bill collectors and cut corners while charging for proper repairs and it never ends good for some, if not most customers. People who turn their cars over to the mobile shops do so because of price and because they don’t want to lose site/control of their vehicle and feel somewhat certain that the mechanic can’t leave until the repair is complete. It would seem that you have the undivided attention of the mechanic when they come to the car to work.
The greatest competition that I had over the years was the franchise McShops like Midas and Meineke who locate at highly visible, convenient locations in pleasantly decorated buildings with a nice young person greeting arriving customers and a waiting room with a television and toys for the kids. When such places first open they quickly suck up a great deal of good work but their business model requires them to over repair the car and charge somewhat outrageous prices so within a year or 2 their business declines and they must fall in line with the local business model or go broke. Several McShops opened here and the owners went broke and sold out with a new owner rushing in to make a fortune and also going broke while I missed a lot of brake work but never seemed to run out of something to do and paid my employees significantly more than McShops.
There are people willing to do stuff in auto part store parking lots. I will continue to use trusted shops I know, so put that as a no vote.
They are handy and not much different than the companies that have mobile battery replacement… same price and I don’t have to schlump the batt home. My sister has been using a mobile mechanic (not a I-net dispatched one) since the 90’s.
Online Services: Brakes, Spark Plugs, Alternator, Starter, Check Engine Light, Water Pump, Timing Belt, A/C Service, Radiator, Battery. Basically, the home mechanic’s top items.
He’s usually a “private contractor”; overhead is transportation and maybe a couple grand in tools over the average shop mechanic’s. They generally knock down around $50 an hour (online search). Some are great, many (IMHO) are those who can’t hold a shop job and guys from Qwickie Mart auto repair shops branching out. Actually, the practice has been going on longer than cars… the I-net will make it more common.
Still, I can’t see good shops staying up nights worrying. Some of the equipment they use would be out of reach for an independent. If it gets really lucrative, maybe they’ll buy a van of their own.
The mobile mechanic and self-serve DIY shops have never lasted long around here. A year or two and then gone.
From a mechanic point of view, there’s no way in the world I would ever want to work on someone’s car in the driveway or parking lot of some retail business.
Weather, lack of a tool at critical times, the procured part turns out to not be the correct one when the car is torn down and the correct one is on national back order, and so on is not something I would ever want to be a part of.
Travel time is minimal as far as costs compared to how much they’re making.I had a front CV axle replaced through one of those sites. I was new to car repair and could not get the axle nut off so I resorted to that. The price for the labor was like $80 and I supplied the part. The guy probably made $70 and it took him less than an hour. The mechanic gets information about the job in advance so they already know the car and what’s being done so they will have the tools with them.
For your particular job travel time was minimal, but the original post was whether mobile mechanics could replace shops. At shops, travel time is mostly “paid for” by the customer - customers drive or get towed to the shop. Most parts are delivered and the tool suppliers visit the shops and deliver replacements or new tools. If a mechanic is waiting for liquid wrench to soak in a stubborn nut, they can work on another job. Mobile mechanics have to build this non-tool time into their cost structure; there will be customers that are willing to pay for this convenience, but not so many that shops will go away.
Have you not seen the vague and confusing descriptions given by people with vehicle problems here ? That means the mechanic could show up expecting one thing and find something else all together
Even you had condenser and compressor mixed up.
An “independent contractor” is going broke at that hourly rate. Why? Because most workers don’t understand the underlying costs of their very existence to an employer.
$50 an hour seems like good pay until you factor in paying both pieces of Social Security, health insurance, disability insurance, professional insurance, business insurance for their van, repair manual subscription services, mobile wifi fees and, of course, travel time.
If you have 15 minutes travel for an hour of billable time (let alone what it might actually take!), that knocks the rate down to $33 an hour before you’ve paid all those “hidden” costs.
Yeah, I was an independent in the early 90’s. Between taxes and
hidden taxes alone, it got really expensive.
Still, there have always been people doing this as a second job,
or even a primary, as long as I can remember. I think the service
only changes will be the number of jobs a person gets and
customers will pay the referring agency’s fee on top of the mech’s
normal hourly. The downside, it gives the gov’t a handle on
One of the reasons some people do this is they don't report
income. I can’t see that it’ll challenge a shop. A mobile repair
is much like depositing money in a bank in a trailer… not really
a confidence builder.
A local mobile mechanic who I knew well enough to see that he was making a great income for a 10th grade drop out repaired truck tires wherever the truck was parked, usually on the shoulder of an off ramp. He carried several common size tires and even some rims, air brake hoses and various lug studs and nuts, etc. There is some sort of long haul trucker’s association that settles the bills for those who subscribe and others pay cash. One of my fleets worked through my shop for roadside flat tire repairs on every vehicle they owned and I paid the bill. It could be a back breaking job and like the post office of long ago neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night…The business was considered a tire repair service though and not a mecnanic.