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Recently entered the automotive field...


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sayntdownfall
New User

Sep 18, 2013, 8:59 PM

Post #1 of 10 (1702 views)
Recently entered the automotive field... Sign In

Hello all, new guy to the forums here.

At 28 years old I recently just started my first job in the automotive industry and I was looking for a little advice. I just finished college with an assoc. degree for Automotive Technology. I have 7 of my 8 state certifications. I graduated with a 3.9 overall gpa yet I still feel as though I am going to crash and burn. Over the past month I have received additional training from a senior technician and I start on my own within the next week. The shop doesn't deal with customer cars, we fix trade ins and send them to be sold. Anything that needs to be done from oil changes to engine work. Everyone works on flat rate and there are guys that turn 75+ hours per week. I got to kind of go alone for the past 4 days and I only turned 15 hours. I didn't expect to jump right in and get 40+ hours my first week but I also didn't expect for my turned hours to be so low. I still feel like so many things are over my head and I often run into a "brick wall" when things don't work out like they should. (Stripped bolts, published procedures incorrect, etc.) My question I guess is did any of you feel the same way starting out? About how long did it take for you to shake the nervousness and really feel confident fixing vehicles. One of my biggest problems is lack of experience in the field. School is nothing like the field. Any advice or tricks of the trade for the new guy? Failure is not an option for me and I have and will continue to work 6 days a week 11 or so hours a day to get better. I'm just wondering how long it will take before I can actually make a decent living off this career choice. Thanks in advance for the help.


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Sep 19, 2013, 1:17 AM

Post #2 of 10 (1683 views)
Re: Recently entered the automotive field... Sign In

Not sure I totally understand you. Flat rate to me means you get X for a certain job like an oil change - shop charge is X and you are expected to do it in a certain time.

Did your schooling include hands on with real vehicles or just the technology of them? Big difference as you need both and never finished till you are dealing with real cars in the real world.

The broken bolt, extra work can take hours is the charge is fixed to one price or hours. No telling how long something that breaks will take or entail. If it's your fault it would be on you. If you notice a job will be nasty up front you discuss that it is out of the ordinary.

Sounds like some are beating the book time and you aren't. Not uncommon if just starting or you need more equipment and hands on experience to know how to get thru the obstacles with less hassle.

Not sure I totally understand your work setting and agreement. It might not be the right starting place for the real world for you??

T



nickwarner
Veteran / Moderator
nickwarner profile image

Sep 19, 2013, 2:29 AM

Post #3 of 10 (1674 views)
Re: Recently entered the automotive field... Sign In

I really hate seeing a guy new to the field thrown into the flat rape scenario like you are. It is a terrible way to learn while trying to earn a living. Your issues with not flagging the hours are because of your inexperience. Flat rate work tends to turn shops into dog-eat-dog, with the really fast guys trying to snap up the gravy train and usually not too willing to help a guy like yourself who just doesn't have the wrench time to really have a good grasp of what he's doing.

At least you are honest and realistic about your abilities. So many people I have seen fresh out of tech think they know it all and manage to get fired from a lot of shops from how badly they screw things up. You're worried about making a mistake. Maybe this will help, think of when those senior techs warn you about some little thing you need to watch out for so it doesn't come back to bite you and screw up the job. We've got lots of little things like that in our heads. The biggest reason for that is we didn't know and screwed it up when we were new at this. Hell, from time to time we still do it. Mechanics are only human after all.

Another thing not helping you much is that you don't have the tool collection that these guys who have been doing it for years have, and with the small paychecks you are getting it doesn't make things any easier to try to afford them. Make friends with your Snap-On, Matco and Mac reps. They know what the top guys are buying. Your co-workers know what works for them, what tools they find invaluable. Pick their brains. Without the toolset I have there is no way I could possibly repair things at the speed I do and some jobs not at all.

Think back 12 years to when you were learning to drive a car. You weren't very good at it were you? Thats because you didn't have enough time behind the wheel, and time behind the wrench is no different.

If at all possible, maybe look into some area fleets or independent shops in your area. You need to be making a straight hourly wage or you simply will not be able to keep food on the table while building your skills. Being thrown to the flat rape (and no I did not misspell that) wolves with barely any hands-on with an experienced guy has driven many promising new techs out of the field. If you find a shop like what I'm describing, be honest with them like you were here with us. Tell them you really want to learn and you don't care if you have to start out cleaning shop and doing lube jobs mostly or playing parts monkey for the other guys. If they see you are a good worker you'll find yourself getting worked in with the seasoned guys and shown the ropes.

Not sure if you deal with a lot of rustbelt cars, but if you do its a whole new learning curve. There is almost no way to make flat rate time on a 10 year old car in WI. I never worked on anything else myself so I learned early on to get downright surgical with a cutting torch. The seasoned guys can show you some tricks that will blow your mind on dealing with the rusted crap and in no time you will have amassed a wealth of little tips and tricks. You will also screw some things up. You'll try not to, but your lack of experience guarantees it will happen. Don't let it get you down and don't ever try to hide it from the boss. Learn from it.

You'll get there man, its just going to take some time. If you go on YouTube, check out ErictheCarGuy. He has a lot of vids not only on repair but on being a tech, and has made a few specifically about people in your position. Worth watching for sure. While you're on YouTube, definitely check out ScannerDanner. The advanced driveability guys are the ones in the highest demand. He can show you how to learn more than you ever thought you could about computer controls and oscilloscope usage.

Best of luck to you.


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Sep 19, 2013, 3:05 AM

Post #4 of 10 (1670 views)
Re: Recently entered the automotive field... Sign In

You're in a tough situation. Your best bet now is to get really friendly with the SM or whoever passes out the work. He can make or break you. Don't take on jobs that you think are over your head that you will get buried in.. If he feeds you the right work, he can make your life a lot easier.
How you get along with the other techs will make all the difference in how much they will be willing to help you and you will need help.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Sep 19, 2013, 7:23 AM

Post #5 of 10 (1642 views)
Re: Recently entered the automotive field... Sign In

OP (original poster), Nick does have a way with words! "Flat Rape" as he put it is NOT so good when starting out. Worse that you are dealing with trade-in cars and who knows what horrors show up - some may have been traded as a mechanic told a customer that a car was no longer worth putting bucks into and now you see them!

Not a good mix for the work that would likely come your way AND make a living at it quickly.

Hey - you've already made the time and whatever it cost to get the training and degree and that time you weren't even making low bucks doing anything out there.

So you asked how long now to make a living at this? Can't be exact but a couple years again on the job and tons of whatever you make you'll need to spend on you own tools. IT'S HARD!

You can make a good living at this in time. The trades are in high demand and need you.

Right now if you need to take that second something job after hours to make ends meet.

A huge benefit is even right now you should be able to have a dependable vehicle for cheap $$.

Good luck and keep trying,

Tom



Discretesignals
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Discretesignals profile image

Sep 20, 2013, 5:25 PM

Post #6 of 10 (1613 views)
Re: Recently entered the automotive field... Sign In


Quote
I really hate seeing a guy new to the field thrown into the flat rape scenario like you are.


I thought the same exact thing when I got to the part in the paragraph that he went flat rate within a week of working. If this is individual flat rate system, your F**ked unless you get the right vehicles in your bay and you do easy Sh!t like tune up, brakes, flushes, and R&Ring obvious broken stuff. If you are bringing out the meters, scanners, lab scopes, and trouble charts to diag, that is really where you take it in the hind end in a flat rate system.

Individual flat rate system is a dog eat dog situation just as Nick stated. You have other techs competing against each other trying to get the gravy jobs. I've seen techs paying off service writers to get the good work. Others resort to using the magic pen and replace stuff that doesn't need to be replaced to make ends meet. I don't understand why it still exists, but the ones that seem to lose are the really good techs that know how to diag cars or ones that like to do a quality job by taking their time to make sure it is done right the first time.

With you being the new guy, they are going to give you the Sh!t work that doesn't pay...as your finding out. Just hang in there and learn all you can from the others in there. You need the experience. Just don't go to the dark side. You'll sleep better knowing you are doing the right thing.





Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.

(This post was edited by Discretesignals on Sep 20, 2013, 5:36 PM)


sayntdownfall
New User

Sep 21, 2013, 10:28 PM

Post #7 of 10 (1508 views)
Re: Recently entered the automotive field... Sign In

I may have been a little unclear as to how our shop works... We work on cars assigned to us by service writers that are just writing the RO's to move progress along. These are not customer cars they are things like trade ins and lease turn ins being fixed for resale. Neither I nor the service writers know what is wrong with the cars untill I (or other techs) test drive them. A big problem I seem to be having is (due to the fact I am new into the field) diagnosis of a problem or specific noises etc. I am sticking it out and will continue to put in long weeks in the hopes of learning, and I am thankful that we don't really work on customer cars. There is never a shortage of cars ( I have 4 assigned to me right now) and no one fights over jobs because everyone is working on what mystery car lands in front of them. Honestly I feel lucky because everyone I work with is actually quite nice and helpful. I suppose I am just somewhat discouraged because everyone around me knows what sounds they are hearing, and what needs to be done and I am straggling behind trying to pick up little bits of knowledge here and there. Also to clear up a little confusion I have been paired up with a senior tech for four weeks, I was merely saying that I start on my own NEXT week. I appreciate all the advice you guys have been giving me and one way or another I will make this work.


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Sep 22, 2013, 4:46 AM

Post #8 of 10 (1502 views)
Re: Recently entered the automotive field... Sign In

So nobody knows what if anything is wrong with the cars - that would drive anyone nuts! Traded in cars by lease may be just fine and in need of just checking out. I don't know how you put hours of pay time to that system where nothing is known?

Owned cars traded in will be a mystery as any car anyway but if you don't have specific requests of what to do I don't know how that shop can peg the work needed or how you or shop decide?

Didn't you say you broke some parts (is that nuts and bolts or what?) in your work? If these are fresh trades where are these cars destined after your place? An assortment or are most going back to new car dealers for their used inventory?

That is still tough. Are you getting lost cause cars also?

Who decides on what is needed or not in this place?

T



Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Sep 22, 2013, 5:47 AM

Post #9 of 10 (1487 views)
Re: Recently entered the automotive field... Sign In


Quote
I suppose I am just somewhat discouraged because everyone around me knows what sounds they are hearing, and what needs to be done and I am straggling behind trying to pick up little bits of knowledge here and there.


You are in a very tough situation. This job is definitely not ideal for a trainee. These observations and diagnostic abilities come with years of experience. Right now you are in the parts changing phase of your career and you have a long ways to go before you become proficient in diagnostics and your livelihood shouldn't be dependent on it right now. You need to work under supervision of a veteran for a long time to come.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Sep 22, 2013, 11:02 AM

Post #10 of 10 (1437 views)
Re: Recently entered the automotive field... Sign In

I'm unfamiliar with this assembly line of used car repair. I've worked for and dealt closely with a couple new car dealers, one decent used car dealer.

New Dealers: They just keep the best trades and deal it themselves. All not fit to their standards just get wholesaled out all or nothing for rock bottom values.

Used only dealers: They most frequently pick up inventory from a periodic auction TMK. The cars are untouched from the way they were traded in. Rock bottom prices, can't drive them just run them in place and look them over and make a bid.

Glitter lot used dealers: By that I mean awesome unwrecked, low mile cars/trucks. Auctions, estate sales or their own back that someone just didn't like. Know of just one like that near me takes on 100% on site with his own techs.

The rental car places? Seem to sell off their own but must vary a lot how they sell off their cars?

T







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