How to choose a mobile mechanic
In 2019 the automotive service industry is facing a severe technician shortage of almost 80,000 qualified technicians. Service bays at many dealers and independent shops are sitting empty because they owners can’t find enough qualified technicians. Yet, three companies, YourMechanic, Wrench And RepairSmith have started mobile mechanic businesses staffed with either full-time or free-lance mobile mechanics.
In addition, Craigslist is filled with ads from solo mobile mechanics. How can you tell if you’re getting a qualified mobile mechanic or a hack who simply couldn’t make it in an independent or dealer shop?
Understand what you’re getting with each mobile mechanic service
If you hire a mobile mechanic from a service like YourMechanic, Wrench or RepairSmith, you’ll most likely be paying the same labor rate per hour as the shop. In other words, you won’t save money over having the repair done at a shop. You’re only buying convenience with these firms; the convenience of having the repair done at your home or office.
Craigslist mobile mechanics are different. In most cases their labor rates are cheaper than a mobile mechanic firm, independent shop or dealer. That’s because they have lower overhead. These are totally self employed business men/women who want to work solo and are willing to charge less per hour than the shop or dealer because they still wind up making more money in the end.
What types of service are suited to mobile mechanics?
Mobile mechanics can perform minor to moderate repairs at your home of office, including.
Battery, starter and alternator diagnostic repair and replacement
Poor engine performance diagnostics, maintenance and repair (spark plugs, fuel injectors ignition coils, fuel pump related issues).
Brakes and minor suspension maintenance and repairs (brake jobs, shocks, struts, control arms, ball joints, etc.) No alignments however. That must be done at a shop.
Minor engine service like coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid and power steering fluid flushes.
Repairs on power windows, power door locks, dash and instrument cluster and some engine control module reprogramming.
What services that can’t or shouldn’t be performing in your driveway
The services listed below can technically be performed in your driveway, but to do them right, your car should be brought into the shop. These items require a lift and meticulous attention to detail. These repairs often go wrong when performed outdoors or even in your garage.
Engine or transmission swaps
Major suspension repairs
Body repair and painting
How to avoid the bad independent mobile mechanics
• Some mobile mechanics are people who simply couldn’t make it in the real world of a shop or dealer.
• They’re unreliable (don’t show up when they say), make promises they can’t keep, quote too low a price and then try to jack up the bill at the end.
• They use sub-standard parts to lure you in with a low price.
• They don’t own the proper diagnostic tools and replace parts rather than actually performing tests to determine what’s wrong.
• They disappear halfway through the job.
• They don’t respond to your phone calls.
How can you tell the mobile mechanic is good? Simple. Ask these questions first
• What ASE certifications do you have?
• Where have you worked as an auto tech?
• How long have you been on your own?
• Can you give me references?
• Where do you buy your parts and can I talk to your parts supplier?
Don’t ignore the warnings signs
• If they’re running late, they should at least call and let you know the new time of arrival. If they’re late for that, they’re gone.
• They don’t show up because their car broke down. Their vehicle is their business. If they can’t maintain that, they can maintain yours.
• Have they actually performed a diagnostic before quoting a repair price? If not, they’ll replace a part hoping that’ll fix the problem. If the part doesn’t fix the problem, they’ll be back asking for more money to fix yet another part.
• Do they want money up front? That means they’re broke. Shops usually don’t ask for money up front. Neither should a mobile mechanic.
• Do they carry liability insurance? Look, it’s simply a cost of doing business. If they screw up the job, you’ll want to file a claim. If they carry liability insurance, they’re serious about their business.
• Compare their price to what normal shops charge. Sometimes the less scrupulous mobile mechanics tear apart your vehicle and then demand a large payment to finish the job.
©, 2019 Rick Muscoplat
Posted on by Rick Muscoplat