What do the pros think about this article?


#1

I just read this interesting article.

http://www.techshopmag.com/Article/127801/automotive_industry_discussion_technicians_point_of_view.aspx

Personally, I think the author may be living in a fantasy world

No employer of mine ever gave me a reward, because I did some housekeeping

And I’ve never worked anywhere where I could consistently flag 20 hours a day . . . there were days I did flag 20 hours a day. But those were extremely rare situations, and the bad days far outweighed the good days.

I partially disagree with the author’s assertion that mechanics don’t pay a lot for college. A lot of recent mechanics have just about mortgaged their souls before graduating from some of these for-profit schools.

What he did get right, in my opinion, is that the average mechanic isn’t getting wealthy.

What do you other guys think?

By the way, I would like anybody that wants to respond. I chose the title, so that it stands out.


#2

Well, I think you’re correct on all points db4690 and the author of that story is just like most automotive authors and BS peddlers.
They’ve never been slave to the flat rate system themselves but proclaim how wonderful it is.

What planet is this guy from? You’re standing there with zero work earning zero dollars and the mechanic is supposed to pitch in and help someone who does have a job earn money?
Do all kinds of housekeeping and maintenance for free just to avoid being bored?
On what planet in this solar system is a mechanic “compensated”, to use his word, even one dime for doing that housekeeping and maintenance? None that I’ve ever heard of.


#3

@ok4450: +1. I don’t do work that I’m not compensated for; I’m nobody’s slave. Heck, I take ethical exception to self-serve grocery checkout!////Now, as a self-employed person, occasionally I’ll do work gratis as a goodwill gesture, but I count that as an investmet that ultimately pays back.


#4

Not a pro here (but you knew that). I’d honestly like to hear how you all think a shop should be run “in a perfect world.” The flat-rate system has always seemed a little strange to me given variations in any repair, but it’s been used for so long I figured no other system would be better.


#5

I have had a few mechanics who could consistently turn in 50+ hours per week but there was no time clock and they often worked more than 40 hours each week. A great many men didn’t make it past the first 90 days but those who did in recent years were guaranteed $400/week and then 40% commission on their labor less their weekly guarantee at the end of the month. Some earned over $50,000 in the 90s here in Mississippi. Dealerships and franchises have cheapened the market for mechanics in my area but they are monopolizing the market so a good man earns less today than he could have 10 years ago. And opening an independent shop is becoming financially impossible. The public pays more while the man doing the work is paid less.


#6

Rod Knox . . . you hit the nail on the head

The most sure fire way of flagging more than 40hrs/week is working more than 40hrs/week

Warranty BS makes it quite hard to earn a decent living at a dealership

Not to mention that the dealer expects/requires the mechanics to perform free inspections on virtually every vehicle that gets written up. The mechanic earns no money for this, and it can take quite awhile, if you actually check everything on that list. Only a small percentage results in an upsell.

Savvy customers take that list and bring it to a different shop . . . with a lower hourly rate . . . for a second opinion. Then they pick and choose what they want to do.

Sometimes I do sidejobs out of my garage, on the weekend. I’ve actually had people bring their cars over, with the inspection/upsell sheet from the dealer in hand. Then I go over the car and tell them what I think it needs. My recommendations are usually quite different from the ones on that sheet.

But if you work at a dealer . . . and I did for many years . . . you must “get with the program” or the door will hit your butt on the way out.


#7

@ok4450 … I agree 100%. In the early part of my Air Force career…there was very little work because all the bombers were in Southeast Asia. When the boss saw us just sitting around…he decided that the floors in the building needed stripping, waxing and buffing just to keep us busy. That’s when I coined the term “Clean floor…never won a war.” I had a plaque made for my desk when I reached a grade in my promotions that would allow me to display it without remark. When there was no work…or training going on…I cut my people loose and put them on standby. There was times when the floors really needed stripping, waxing and buffing and that time was usually night shift on Friday.

BTW @db4690 I also repaired vehicles on my off-duty time in the Air Force. I used the base hobby shop (garages with bays and hydraulic lifts) and made a good part time living. The extra money was good but the practice and experience gained was worth it’s weight in gold.


#8

I have a very dim view of the vast majority of articles written about the automotive field. There was one (I’ve now forgotten the publication and author) a few years back where the “automotive expert” author addressed the issue of repairs being done under warranty at new car dealers.

According to that author, if an applicable warranty operation pays 2 hours and the mechanic spends 6 hours on it then they just make a request of the car manufacturer to get paid an extra 4 hours and voila; it’s a done deal.
It would be great if that were the case but it ain’t gonna happen even if cases where extra time is deserved through no fault of the mechanic.

At one dealership where I worked the policy was to roll up air hoses every day at quitting time, throw away or turn in all used parts, and sweep our service stalls out to the shop center line to make things a bit easier on the night guy cleaning up and running the floor scrubber.
That I don’t have a problem with at all as it only took about 5 minutes and clean was nice but being asked to routinely spend hours cleaning up things for free or do building repairs for which I had no responsibility is way over the line.

I think there was a lawsuit in CA won by mechanics over that type of issue and the court ruled in favor of the mechanics. Whether that decision is on appeal or not I do not know.


#9

Where I worked in 1975/1976 The manufacturer reimbursed the dealer 70% of their normal shop rate. Of course the dealer absorbed that loss NOT! Most of the time the result was $10.00 per hour flat rate mechanics being paid $7.00 on a 1 hour flat rate job that took 2 hours. There was always a collective groan when a warranty job appeared.


#10

I’ve been wondering with the massive numbers of recalls how dealership mechanics are going to make decent pay, given how y’all describe how warranty work is (and isn’t) reimbursed, if they are having to do so many more recall repairs?

I know, as a car owner, I always assumed when my cars needed warranty work that the mechanics were being paid the same as if the same repairs were done with me paying as opposed to it being under warranty. Not until I received a bit of an education reading here on the forum did I have a clue.


#11

I would have starved if I had to fix cars for a living. Even when I could pick a full tool box off the floor, put it on my shoulder and walk fast uphill for four blocks to catch the bus I was still too weak to get things done fast.

School was great! I didn’t learn much and was a good front end alignment mechanic. Graduated in 1972. I could not work on that job now and wouldn’t want to if I could.

Aluminum in my day was considered to be garbage. It’s necessary trash and all the engines seem to be made of it. If there is a happy mechanic I don’t see how it’s possible. Small cars are dreadful to work on. There is no space to work with.

The average pay seems good but many mechanics work in large metropolitan areas. That isn’t enough money to pay for a decent living. It’s better to work at being a good vehicle vulture. Find car deals, pay a low price and resell fast without paying fees and registrations.

Warranty claims is a big job now and requires an entire person to do only that; with much help from staff. Unemployment rates should improve with all the recall work going on today. I don’t see enough mechanics around to do all the work. I think the people who complete trade school will be able to go right to work. It won’t take an investigation for congress to understand that recall work is going to take too much time to complete.


#12
I know, as a car owner, I always assumed when my cars needed warranty work that the mechanics were being paid the same as if the same repairs were done with me paying as opposed to it being under warranty. Not until I received a bit of an education reading here on the forum did I have a clue.

I underwent the same enlightenment. Though I still wonder if this applies to mechanics at a specific brand dealership. When someone brings a Toyota to a Toyota dealership for repair, do the mechanics there get paid the same for work under a Toyota warranty as they would if the car was no longer under warranty?


#13

@meanjoe75fan‌

I take ethical exception to self-serve grocery checkout!

As an aside, nice to see I’m not alone in that. I won’t use them, ever, because I don’t want the store to get the idea that they can fire the clerks to improve profits while further torpedoing the economy.

Regarding the article, I suspect his math is off. $56,000 will pay your 4 year tuition right now at a state university close to where I live. While I filled my big rolling tool chest for considerably less than that, a lot of the tools in there would not stand up to the heavy daily use they’d see if I were doing this for a living. If I’d filled that box with SnapOn, etc, I’m guessing I’d have paid the same as that tuition and then some. And too, I don’t have to worry about some jackass at my office stealing my college degree, and my degree will never break. And if I change jobs I don’t have to call a flatbed towtruck to move my degree to my new office.

Realistically, comparing a degreed white collar professional to an automotive technician to make a point is kind of comparing apples and oranges.

Further, I dislike any argument who’s premise is based on a “Just be happy you have a job, and pitch in to do extra work without compensation” argument. If a mechanic is not getting paid when he’s not under a car, then he should not be expected to be working when he’s not under a car. Of course the shop owner will appreciate it if you do janitorial work for him - now he doesn’t have to pay someone to do it.

But in my experience, being “helpful” like that generally leads management to expect you to continue to be helpful without compensation. And if at any point you decide to point out that you’re doing all this work without pay, and maybe you should be paid, suddenly now “your attitude has changed, you’re not as good an employee as you used to be, and maybe we should part ways.” I’ve seen it happen - I’ve actually seen people get fired because they stopped doing things that were not in their job description and for which they were receiving no pay. Had they just done their job without being so “helpful” from the start, the issue never would have come up.


#14
Regarding the article, I suspect his math is off. $56,000 will pay your 4 year tuition right now at a state university close to where I live.

That’s CHEAP…what state is this? $56k will pay for 1.2 years at UNH.


#15

Wisconsin. Of course, that doesn’t count books, dorm fees, meal plans, etc. But UW also has a textbook library, so you don’t have to buy all your books when you go there.


#16

@MikeInNH‌ You are thinking about a lot of non-mandatory expenses with that figure. (Dormitories, cafeterias, health insurance)

http://www.unh.edu/business-services/tuitug.html

UNH lists mandatory fees as $2,880 / year, and tuition as $13,670 / year for in-state students.

So that’s only $16.550 / year.


#17

Sorry…I included room-and-board…With Room and Board - double that.

I’ve gone through this twice…now doing it again with my youngest…

After tuition and room-and-board…there’s other financial considerations…and that’s can be anywhere from $1000/yr to well over $5000/yr. We were always closer to the $5000/yr. Which now brings tuition up to over $30k/. yr. Every college usually has a list of complete financial responsibility you may be paying. I still paid a few thousand for my daughter at MIT…and she had a full scholarship.

Never had a kid able to commute to college. It’s possible to commute to UNH from where we live…but if you have an early class…that means getting up before 5am.


#18

@starman1 sometimes room and board are mandatory. For my freshman and sophomore years, I was required to live in the dorms and have a university dining plan.

That said, the dorms were cheaper than any of the apartments in town including student-focused ones that were about half a step above a 3rd world ghetto. And the meal plan was the best bargain around - all you can eat 3 times a day in any dining hall for about 7 bucks a day. The food was… Well, let’s just say Denny’s looks like a Michelin-starred restaurant by comparison, but unless I ate nothing but insta-ramen, I couldn’t have come close to eating for that price off-campus.


#19

Actually, I’ll walk out of my way to use a self service checkout. Think about it. What sense does it make for you to stand there and wait while a warm body runs the items through a scanner and then waits for you to put the devit card in the reader and then gives you the receipt? Bagging is really the only function served. Not very efficient in my view. Its not really the mission of the grocery store to provide clerking jobs. Maybe sad but thats the way it is. Now back in the 50’s, the clerk would need to write out the sales slip and make change or add it to the monthly bill, but not anymore.

Some years ago a local car talk radio host discussed what he thought was coming in the future. He saw the trend of cars that would or could not be serviced or repaired. Just the major components swapped out and under an extended manufacturers warranty or service plan. Seems like we’re heading in that direction where the dealers will capture 90% of the service and repair work out of necessity. That’s kinda Tesla’s approach too isn’t it? Nothing to do except send the car back and swap components.


#20
I take ethical exception to self-serve grocery checkout! As an aside, nice to see I'm not alone in that. I won't use them, ever, because I don't want the store to get the idea that they can fire the clerks to improve profits while further torpedoing the economy.

That reminds me of when I got my first real job. In the first couple days, before I even had a chance to make the mistake, my supervisor told me to NEVER EVER mention new machines we were planning to get or even just hoping to get when I was out on the manufacturing floor. The reason being that there would be outrage among the manufacturing personnel if they knew or thought that we would be bringing in a machine that could do their jobs.