What’s the future for the good old local mechanic?

I recently needed to get some major cooling work done on my well out of warranty European car and rather than go back to the dealer who I think charges far too much for a service, is continually trying to up sell something and keeps hassling me on the phone reminding me that it needs a service, when it doesn’t, I decided to go to a workshop nearby.

I’ve known the guys at this workshop for a few years, they have good reports from people I know, and they continually work on some very top end vehicles. In doing this not only did I get the car repaired to my satisfaction and didn’t need to sell one of my children to pay for it, I also got an insight into the dilemmas that face the boutique auto repair shops.

The most interesting was the amount of time it takes for these guys to get parts, especially those that come from manufacturers. Not only does this mean the client is delayed by days in getting back on the road, but if the repairer has maybe three cars in a similar situation on the go at the same time, they have cars blocking up hoists which could be used for other jobs. This was the case as I looked around the workshop which was full of cars waiting for parts and customers not understanding their predicament.

It was then that I Iamented the good old days of the mechanics workshop, where the guy who worked on your car in battered overalls, took your cash with his greasy hands and was willing to tell you what the problem was in a way that you were able to understand what he was actually talking about.

I then thought how weird it seemed that when I was looking at a Tesla several years ago and was about to take it out for a drive, a nice young man told me about the car. He wasn’t a car salesman, in fact he’d previously worked at Apple, and basically, he explained to me how the computer in the centre of the dashboard worked and suggested if I do this the car will do that, so really all I had to do was turn the steering wheel, accelerate, and brake, with even the latter being optional.

Both of these observations started to fall into place recently when I read the following article on the American wired.com site, in that car manufacturers don’t want the little workshops to exist anymore, they want to have total control over who does what to your car and charge you for the privilege.

High-Tech cars are killing the auto repair shop.

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