How to Decide if You Should Take Your Car to a Repair Shop or a Mobile Mechanic
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Everyone who owns a car is familiar with the traditional mechanic’s garage. We’ve gone to them whenever there’s an issue with our cars that needs addressing, but recent years have seen the rise of mobile mechanic services. These outfits save on the overhead costs of a garage by taking things directly to the customer. The benefits of this type of arrangement are numerous and obvious, but it’s wise to keep traditional shops in mind when more extensive repairs are needed.
Mobile services are quick, convenient and generally cheaper than shops
Mobile mechanic services have seen a sudden upsurge, with companies like YourMechanic offering a sweeter deal for customers than they’re used to having from a regular garage. If there’s an issue with your car, you can call a mobile mechanic and they will come directly to your home to look things over and make the repairs on-site. Mobile mechanics operate out of vans that carry a lot of the tools found in traditional mechanic garages.
It doesn’t need to be stated that having a mechanic come to you is a far greater help than leaving your vehicle at a shop and possibly lacking a means of getting around otherwise. Many people often cite the logistics issues and being without a car among the most aggravating aspects of a mechanic experience.
Surprisingly, mobile mechanics are often able to offer these benefits at a lower cost than their shop counterparts. By saving on the expensive overhead of a physical shop, mobile mechanics may be as much as 30% cheaper for labor costs, and without the potential for supervision and oversight, the mechanics hired for these mobile positions tend to be very experienced.
The traditional garage nonetheless offers the fullest service
There is every reason to feel excited about mobile mechanics, and once many customers give it a try, they’re usually inclined to keep it up. However, it wouldn’t be fair at all to say that garages are obsolete. Rather, whether your car is better suited for a mobile appointment or a stint in the shop largely depends on the severity of the issues at hand.
In the event that your car is damaged and needs fresh parts to replace the old ones, a garage will have a stockpile of parts at hand. This won’t usually be an issue for garages, but mobile mechanics would need to custom-order the part, thereby significantly increasing the time and cost of the repairs. For these larger repairs, a mobile mechanic may not have the utilities at hand to do everything. Unless your home garage happens to have all of the same tools as a pro shop, it is a given that the convenience will come at least with some cost to what the mechanic is capable of.
Saying this should not be taken to mean that mobile mechanics are limited in what they can offer. On the contrary, many mobile service customers are impressed by the sheer amount the mechanic can do without a shop. Nonetheless, the limited van space and lack of an on-hand parts stockpile makes a mobile mechanic less convenient in the event of significant car repairs.
Your insurance coverage can factor into your decision
Your insurance provider will always have preferences on what services they are and aren’t willing to pay for. However, as mobile mechanics tend to be significantly cheaper than their shop counterparts, most insurers should be open to covering this as a viable alternative.
If you’re in a situation where your car breaks down on the road and lack the helpful roadside assistance add-on in your insurance policy, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars in towing fees by contracting a mobile mechanic to the spot and having them make the necessary fixes. This can backfire if it’s found that the vehicle needs to be towed anyway, but it should be considered if you’re reasonably assured that the issue can be addressed on-site.
You’ll need to provide a mobile mechanic with a place to work
If you’re hiring a mobile mechanic, it helps to have a garage they’re able to work in. Seeing as this business model eschews the shop, it’s up to the customer themselves to provide an area that’s safe and practical for car work.
You are going to want to offer a place that is solid, dry and flat. Because of this, the weather can factor in heavily. While a garage or car park are safe bets, rain and other weather complications can get in the way. Every mobile mechanic will have their own weather policy; you should ask if you think this might be an issue at all.
If you don’t have a garage of your own for the mechanic to use, it may help to ask to use a neighbor’s, or otherwise park the car underneath an overhang to keep things dry while the mechanic works.
How to get in touch with a mobile mechanic service
Mobile mechanics are a growing portion of the market. Review websites like Yelp and car-specific outlets such as AutoMD should be able to direct you to mobile mechanics serving your area. YourMechanic is one fast-growing mobile repair startup that provides a high level of quality and affordable service. They sponsor mechanics across the country, and are worth looking into if it applies to your area.