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Training to become an Independent Mobile Mechanic - Advice needed


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JohnDoe
New User

Mar 1, 2014, 7:17 PM

Post #1 of 5 (1225 views)
Training to become an Independent Mobile Mechanic - Advice needed Sign In

Hi everyone, I could use some advice. I want to be an independent mobile mechanic. I'm trying to figure out the best option for schooling.

Background info:
-Don't want to work for a dealership
-Don't want to work for someone else, I want to run my own small business. At worst case scenario I would if business was slow, but the goal here is to not work for someone else
-I've got money saved for tools and schooling, not an issue, and I've got land to use for a shop
-Interested in diesel and gas, want to learn how to properly fix any vehicle, any issue
-Don't have much mechanical experience, but a willingness to learn about every detail about every part and system - would like to tear a vehicle down to a room full of parts and then rebuild it
-Looking for the best technical school on the west side of the US, preferably in the Oregon-California area

This is the biggest decision of my life so far, so what do you think of the idea? What kind of school or program should I be looking for?


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Mar 1, 2014, 8:11 PM

Post #2 of 5 (1213 views)
Re: Training to become an Independent Mobile Mechanic - Advice needed Sign In

Slow down sport. You don't have the training or schooling yet and want to head out and work on your own (difficult just by that if alone) and mostly be mobile and do everything on every model?


NO! You would need to already have a network of area shops you deal with, work experience and know what NOT to take on that you might not be able to do on sight.


You could aim for road calls for common repair on location but would be severely limited. Tires, alignments, transmission, routine services all out of some truck or van? How are you even going to hoist assorted vehicles in all sorts of locations?


Said you have land. If ready build a shop and place with room for all the equipment/tools you can't possibly have with you for realistic mobile work. Just oil change service - yes and already popular but about ends there,


T



Discretesignals
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Discretesignals profile image

Mar 1, 2014, 11:46 PM

Post #3 of 5 (1201 views)
Re: Training to become an Independent Mobile Mechanic - Advice needed Sign In

I think that you need to start off working for a repair shop before you start going out on your own. I have never heard of a mobile mechanic that didn't start out working at the dealer or an independent to learn the ropes. Schooling is great for prepping you for the field, but the real schooling starts when you are in the field.





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Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Mar 2, 2014, 4:55 AM

Post #4 of 5 (1195 views)
Re: Training to become an Independent Mobile Mechanic - Advice needed Sign In

I agree with DS on this...........

Knowledge and ability in this trade comes from different sources. I would say only about 50% of what you need can come from school and training. The other 50% has to come from hands on experience and working alongside other experienced techs. I have hired many trade school graduates through the years and I can tell you that although they have been taught the basics and theory, they cannot be relied on to know what they are doing or have any kind of reliable productivity until they have a few years as an apprentice working under the wing of an experienced tech. Working as a mobile tech, working in peoples driveways is much harder than working in a shop environment with all the necessary equipment available.



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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.



(This post was edited by Hammer Time on Mar 2, 2014, 4:55 AM)


nickwarner
Veteran / Moderator
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Mar 3, 2014, 10:19 AM

Post #5 of 5 (1169 views)
Re: Training to become an Independent Mobile Mechanic - Advice needed Sign In

The mobile mechanics I've seen here are all on Craigslist, and they do purely hack work that I end up fixing correctly at a great expense to the customer. As HT pointed out, you cannot work at the same pace in some driveway. You also wouldn't be able to have the right equipment With you unless you plan on using a semi truck to haul them.

If something goes wrong, and trust me it will, you will have nobody else with you that is experienced to help you through it. The only person you will be in front of is a very angry customer.

If someone is too cheap to pay for a tow to get their vehicle to a shop on a wrecker you don't want them for a customer. They'll just nickel and dime you to death. You'll be working on dilapidated junk in some Tweakerville trailer park.

Going to tech school isn't going to make you an experienced tech. It will give you some good theory of operation and an intro to the complex electronics you will deal with. But realistically it takes at least 5-7 years on hands-on work with other experienced men to make a true technician who can fly solo.

Also think of the fact that you will have a toolset between $60,000-$130,000 as a good tech in a shop. Even then you'll still find sometimes that you need a certain tool you don't have. You won't have another tech to borrow one from. You'll have a car torn apart in someone's driveway and no way to finish the repair. Also, some jobs you just need to have an extra set of hands with. You don't have that in a driveway.

On top of the price for what I already mentioned just in your regular tools, as the shop owner you will also need thousands more for high-end scan tools, service truck, mobile compressor, welder, torch set, all the insurances that come with shop liability (that I guarantee frown on mobile work as they don't have a facility to inspect), dealing with the city for your business license, record keeping and hundreds of dollars per month in subscriptions to technical information along with the cost of updating your scan tools. The one I have sets me back $1000 a year to update and thats a pretty normal price.

So even if you ignored all this advice, even if you had all of this money magically land in your lap to get started up, you have still greatly limited yourself. You're working outside, so weather is dependent. Are you going to open up an engine outside? Do head gaskets in a fall breeze when leaves and dirt are blowing around? Maybe try to put it together in the rain? Even if you had perfect weather every single day you still cannot move at near the pace of a properly run shop. You can't possibly stock enough parts on your truck, so you lose time both in the drive to and from the customer, to and from the parts store, and the inefficiency of working on site. The only way you could possibly hope to make up just for the lost time is to charge triple what the shops are charging, which means you won't have any customers.

Also remember that environmental agencies aren't nice to shops about handling waste fluids. So if you spill any fluids you could be subject to a fine. Also, when you get oil/grease/ATF/coolant etc. on the customer's driveway they aren't going to be happy with you.

You need to ask yourself why you think you won't work for anyone. Is this some sort of ego thing? If mobile work was so lucrative then these shops would do it and not pay the expenses they do in owning and maintaining their buildings. The only "mobile mechanics" out there making anything are the trailer park hacks who do some job for $50 to score another bag of dope and a pack of smokes for the day. I have had to sort out a lot of their hack work.






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