There is a dark cloud that seems to hang over the automotive repair industry. It is unfortunate that there is still a large part of the general public that thinks every repair shop is out to get them and that their expertise is over rated. Even in the industry itself, the stigma is played upon. Competitors accuse others of wrong doing to make themselves look good, and in the end are simply hurting themselves. There are automotive self help web sites that bash the professional technician.
Let’s spread a little subjective light on the subject. Run a search on the internet though any search engine for home dental work. It is not very likely the results you yield will give you step by step instructions for filling a cavity or performing a root canal in your kitchen. You will not find dental tools at the local “Dental Zone”. These things don’t exist because you would only have a trained professional work on your teeth. The tools available to them are not for general public use. The same is true for automotive repair, but the general public seems to think otherwise.
Professional automotive technicians spend a lot of money on tools that are not found at the local auto store. A tech may spend $2500 every year in tools for his or her entire career. That is a personal expense so that they can perform repairs effectively and efficiently. They make that investment out of pocket so that they can be the best at what they do. The tools that they use to repair vehicles is constantly being updated and adapted to the technology that goes into vehicles. These technicians spend their money on tools to fix cars, and the companies that employ them spend money to train them on the new technologies. I am pretty sure that dentists are spending a good amount of money on new equipment and have seminars to stay current on advances in dentistry. And this is not the only similarity.
The work that your technician does also has some pretty serious impact. Just as a dentist that does a procedure incorrectly and causes injury, a technician not performing his repairs correctly can cause injury. It is important for both of these professionals to know what they are doing. If they do not, people get hurt, or on a lesser note, miss work, lose money, and are overall inconvenienced. There are many similarities to the importance, training, and equipment that go into these two professions, but what about the differences?
There are many differences. Let’s start out with the fact that the technician has to work in environments that are hot, cold, dirty, and sometimes pretty close to unbearable. I ask how many of us would like to stand under a vehicle with a hot engine, arms straight up in the air for 30 minutes at a time in a shop that’s 90 degrees? Or how would you like to go and repair an ignition problem when its 10 degrees, and have to do it outside because the vehicle cannot be towed in to the shop? The rest of the day you can spend bent over burning and cutting your hands while you use that new $300 tool you paid for.
When you go to the dentist for a routine check up, you don’t argue after being checked that “he just looked at my teeth” and since he didn’t do anything you should not pay. But everyday in automotive repair shops, customers argue that exact point. The dentist charges for his time as a professional. He charges for the chair you sat in and the tools he used to look at your teeth. He charges for the schooling and experience that make him qualified in his profession. The automotive repair shop does the same, only customers feel that they can argue the point.
It seems that there a are a whole lot of people who know everything there is to know about car repair and the business. Yet with all of their automotive knowledge, they choose a different profession. Maybe it’s the long hours, the hard working conditions, the constant learning, or serious personal investment that it take to be an professional automotive technician, but I think it might also be that they don’t know what they’re talking about.
There are many repairs that the mechanically inclined “back yard mechanic” can perform. The simple repairs are fine to do yourself with the right reference material and general tools. When it comes to diagnosing vehicles with problems and repairing complicated systems that require special tools, the money you pay for that repair is justified, well justified. So give your technicians the respect that they deserve for performing a professional service that most of the public is not even capable of doing, even if they invest $10,000 in tools to get the job done.