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A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    You wouldn't tolerate someone else (like me) deciding that for you would you?

    Our customers do that all the time, when it comes time to negotiating our rates.

    So then, how do I, the consumer, determine if $80/hr, $100/hr, or $130/hr is a reasonable rate?
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    One of the questions will be; Would you want your son/daughter to become a technician in your shop? Yes or No

    Well, I've answered that question for my profession - electrical engineering. I told all my kids NO, don't become an engineer. While I have had great success, both financially and in having a job that I really like, I do not see the same future for them as I had. Outsourcing is one issue. Along with that is that in many companies, even so-called high tech ones, the engineering dept is considered a cost center rather than a resource, and that engineers are just another fungible resource.

    My son just finished his residency last year and started his medical practice. His income expectations have been cut in half from what those in his field were making 9 years ago when he started medical school. While he is still making a good salary, he has doubts as to whether or not it will be worth all the pain and costs he went through.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,450
    edited February 2013
    By the way, it's not over. (Boston Globe)

    The decision you linked to is being appealed and they've filed a second suit against Tesla. Maybe the Right to Repair crowd will join in with Musk. :D

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    edited February 2013
    If the Nada win, how much would that raise the price of the Telsa to the consumer? 20%?? 30%???
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,803
    NADA has heavily influenced state legislatures to protect themselves.

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  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,450
    edited February 2013
    A link I saw the other day estimated 6% iirc.

    So, about $3,600 for a Tesla S.

    They have 13,000 orders booked. Let's assume 10,000 of them sell this year.

    So there's $36,000,000 out of consumer pockets into dealer pockets for a niche model. Even 1% is a big number. [Edit - an FTC study in 89 found "that the (franchise laws have had a detrimental effect on consumers, increasing prices by about 6 percent." (pdf link)]

    You can do your own exercise with the Big Three.

    Now we can think about how Tesla will handle warranty claims. One thing they could do is open up shops where they sell lots of cars and hire their own mechanics and "really" factory train them. If state laws let them.

    Wiki says you must have your Tesla inspected by a Tesla certified tech annually. If you don't or if you get it repaired by an indy, you forfeit the warranty.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    Wiki says you must have your Tesla inspected by a Tesla certified tech annually. If you don't or if you get it repaired by an indy, you forfeit the warranty.

    That's a "who cares" IMO. First it makes absolutely no sense to invest anything in the way of time to study or for the tools for a car that has about a .000001% chance of ever visiting our shop. (about 1 in 100,000,000, or something close to the chances of winning the powerball) :)

    Now we can think about how Tesla will handle warranty claims. One thing they could do is open up shops where they sell lots of cars and hire their own mechanics and "really" factory train them. If state laws let them

    They would have to sell lots of those cars to support a shop. It would make sense to cross train their techs to be able to support other manufacturers EV's and hybrids in order to try have a steady workflow. Even then they would probably have to use a tiered labor rate.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    I could not, in good conscience, encourage him to become a professional automotive technician.

    Sad isn't it? If someone likes to be challenged to learn something new all of the time, there are few careers that can even come close to what we have to do today. It should be a very rewarding career but all people usually find in it is unsecure dead end jobs....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,803
    I don't see Tesla as being around too much longer anyway. Don't get me wrong, it's a great product, but you can't survive selling so few units and to ramp up requires enormous, staggering amounts of capital.

    As a GM executive once said of Henry Kaiser when he decided to go into the auto business in the 1940s, and announced his "We have X millions in capital to begin!"----the remark was

    "give that man one poker chip"

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    So then, how do I, the consumer, determine if $80/hr, $100/hr, or $130/hr is a reasonable rate

    To be blunt about it, without all of the details you can't. Which is why it isn't being honest to even try.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    My son just finished his residency last year and started his medical practice. His income expectations have been cut in half from what those in his field were making 9 years ago when he started medical school. While he is still making a good salary, he has doubts as to whether or not it will be worth all the pain and costs he went through.

    My daughter finishes her clinical rotations out on the West Coast in April of this year.

    The medical environment is one of rapid and dramatic change, but on the bright side, any position that requires direct patient contact is one that is difficult to export overseas, which I define as a bright spot in today's employment scenario...
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,450
    edited February 2013
    That's a "who cares" IMO.

    It's a "who cares" because it applies to GM and Ford too and any newcomer that wants to try to set up a car business in the US (Tata or Chery, for example).

    Tesla was used as the example because we were talking about the dealers association in MA suing Musk.

    Let's assume Ford wants to do their own warranty service and take that chore away from the dealers (because dealers can charge them "retail rates" in some states under state law), and let's assume that their existing franchise agreements would allow them to do so.

    If the dealers don't like that idea, they'll just go to their state legislature and make it illegal for manufacturers to directly furnish warranty service. Dealers in Maine did something similar in '03 after the courts ruled against them. (SSRN)

    Forget Tesla, this stuff can happen with the majors. And it pads the dealers' pockets at the expense of consumers.

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  • Cardoc I'm curious. I understand what you mean, but... perhaps if a going average rate is say $100, and one looks at Yip or Yelp (? :)) and sees one is rated higher or lower, wouldn't that be a fair indicator of $110 or $90?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,455
    I agree on both counts. I have several friends who are techs. Great guys, but they're only satisfied with their career when they're actually working on cars. When the day is done, they complain about the circumstances. :cry:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,803
    It's very easy to tell padded or false reviews on Yelp. All you have to do is read with some degree of attention.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    It's very easy to tell padded or false reviews on Yelp.

    :confuse:

    All you have to do is read with some degree of attention

    That's asking a lot of the "average" consumer.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    edited February 2013
    Great guys, but they're only satisfied with their career when they're actually working on cars

    I just came from presenting a class for about forty guys who all fit into the main group of loving to actually fix cars, but hate a lot of the nonsense that goes with it.

    When the day is done, they complain about the circumstances

    This was an advanced diagnostic class and in the middle of it one of the case studies has a screen capture where codes are pulled from all of the vehicle modules, but the customers reported issue is only an engine performance one. I purposely don't point out all of the codes and hope that the class lets me we slip right past that slide and concentrate on the engine problem. Then after that is successfully dealt with I add the scenario that has the customer immediately complain about the instrument cluster having an issue.

    By pulling and documenting all of the codes, which includes the communication codes related to the instrument cluster a shop doesn't get blind-sided and end up "getting a bad review" for something they didn't do wrong anyway. If they don't pull codes from all of the modules, then they don't know about the instrument cluster problem and they could likely get trapped into having to fix it for free. Making them practice this is really important and leads to satisfied customers, even if it means the customer is going to have to get more work done than just what they brought the vehicle in for. It all comes down to documentation and communication. if they don't want to fix the cluster problem, that's fine, its their car. The shop needs a record of the vehicles overall condition as much as is reasonably possible.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,450
    edited February 2013
    lol, and then the customer review will read:

    "I took my car to Joe's Garage for a simple engine miss and they tried to tell me my instrument cluster was broken and wanted an extra $400 to fix it. Avoid these crooks like the plague."

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  • an example. No consumer in their right mind would say, ok whatever you want to charge!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,803
    So many of these issues wouldn't have become issues if the shop talked to the customer in the right way. I don't think it's an accident that the very best shops I know have very good skills in relating to people.

    There's even one shop that proves to be an exception to the rule--they are rude, beer-guzzling, loud and obnoxious, but so strange and funny that people love going there just to be part of the freak show----and they repair BMWs for those clients who can cast aside some prejudices and wait for what turns out to be good repairs at a very reasonable price.

    Not a recommended business model, but it goes to show, you can't generalize entirely about repair shops.

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  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,450
    I was going to guess you were talking about the Magliozzi Brother's garage of Click & Clack fame.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,803
    I'm not so sure they fixed cars very well---much of their advice strikes me as amusing but rather lame. The BMW Brothers I mentioned are far more scary, but time and time again, against all odds, they've stuck with difficult problems and fixed them. I remember BMW telling me that the driveshaft on my 7 Series was not repairable, and by golly, the BMW Brothers fixed it for 1/4 the price---they had figured out a way to beat the system. It was for guys like these that the term "derelict genius" was invented.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    edited February 2013
    I took my car to Joe's Garage for a simple engine miss and they tried to tell me my instrument cluster was broken and wanted an extra $400 to fix it. Avoid these crooks like the plague."

    The alternative is;

    I took my car to Joe's Garage for a simple engine miss and they broke my instrument cluster while they had my car. Avoid these crooks like the plague."

    The shop shouldn't be wrong both ways, but the consumer advocates don't have the knowledge and training required to know the difference and advise the consumers appropriatey.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    So your praising them for living down to the stereotype, and not knowing why they shouldn't have attempted to repair the driveshaft?

    Thanks for yet another example of why consumers don't know who really to go to. You just tried to make heros out of hacks.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,450
    they broke my instrument cluster while they had my car

    Right, forgot that one. :-)

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,803
    But they aren't hacks---they drilled out the old u-joint and machined it for a replacement joint--so the "non-replaceable" u-joint was thus replaced and worked just fine throughout my ownership period. I give them credit for figuring out how to do this prior to doing it on my car.

    If they are "hacks", then so too is every person who markets an aftermarket improvement for any component deemed "not serviceable" by the automaker.

    We all know that "not serviceable" is often a term created by legal departments, not engineers.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,521
    edited February 2013
    There's even one shop that proves to be an exception to the rule--they are rude, beer-guzzling, loud and obnoxious,

    Is the consumer who reads this supposed to accept it as desirable?

    and they repair BMWs for those clients who can cast aside some prejudices and wait for what turns out to be good repairs at a very reasonable price.

    So price is more important than image, or even road testing their car without being under the influence?

    Not a recommended business model, but it goes to show, you can't generalize entirely about repair shops.

    But you are reccomending the drunkard's business model, and then throwing in the idea that the consumer can't generalize entirely. This is the kind nonsense that we have to deal with that needs to stop.

    But they aren't hacks---they drilled out the old u-joint and machined it for a replacement joint--so the "non-replaceable" u-joint was thus replaced and worked just fine throughout my ownership period.

    They got lucky. How did they re-balance that shaft after they did that? How much centrifugal force was their repair designed to withstand? Was that driveshaft really "safe" to reach its designed maximum rotational speed after the u-joint replacement?

    We all know that "not serviceable" is often a term created by legal departments, not engineers.


    Obviously "we" don't.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,455
    Ingenuity drives advance. I would not go so far as to denounce anyone for such creativity, regardless of their persona or other habits because everything we choose to do pays us back eventually.
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