As we’ve seen in the previous blog post of our mechanic guide there is a host of things you need to consider when starting up as a mechanic; qualifications, permits, insurance, and the list goes on. But it doesn’t end there, of course, to be able to carry out repairs on a car you need equipment and space to work in. Again, this might seem daunting, but let us guide you, let’s touch upon some of the essentials that you need to get into and stay in business.
As a mechanic, you need a place to work, which traditionally would see yourself working in a garage, equipped with tools, a bridge, and testing equipment. Though, as a self-employed mechanic who’s just starting off that might be an issue. You would have to rent or buy garage premises, arrange extra permits and so on, which might be difficult, if not impossible to fund if you do not already have a steady stream of customers that call upon you to service or maintain their cars.
Of course, you can postpone your plans and work for someone else’s garage whilst you save up to start for yourself. It will mean that you’ll have some extra time after an apprenticeship to do up experience and not be burdened with the business side of things. It does mean, however, that you will miss out on years of building up goodwill under your own name. Nor is it, of course, a very thing courageous to do. Alternatively, what you could do is become a mobile mechanic, you’ll avoid most of the overhead involved in running a car repair business.
Life as a mobile mechanic
As a mobile mechanic, you will have the benefit that you do not need garage premises, you carry out the repairs at a place specified by the customer. And, going by the bookings we receive from up and down the country, we here at Clickmechanic notice every day there is a true demand for mechanics that come to the customer, instead of the other way round.
In this case, instead of a garage you get a van, fill it with your tools and equipment and off you go, on the way to your customers. Depending on how flexible and courageous you are, you’ll be able to carry out most repairs on the spot. In some cases, it might mean you’ll have to pass on some jobs which are too elaborate to carry out outside of a garage, like replacing the crankshaft or piston rings. Although, in some cases you could consider renting some space for a day in a shared workspace or garage, giving you the peace you need to carry out even the most labor-intensive and complicated repairs.
There are other advantages too; mainly in that you yourself can decide which jobs to take on, it enables you to organise your day as you wish (remember, you don’t have an empty garage that costs money even when you don’t work).
The basic equipment you need would amount to a well kitted out toolbox, a vehicle lift (or hoist, either a mobile or static one) and diagnostic equipment.
As you have probably experienced, cars have become increasingly digitalised over the years, finding a fault has become a case of plugging in your diagnostic tool in the ECU. In many cases, it is, moreover, impossible to establish the cause of a fault in a reasonable time without a diagnostic tool. Which is why we, at Clickmechanic, insist that every mechanic in our network has one.
As every car is different and every part too, requiring different tools to torque or de-torque it is a good idea to have a full set of wrenches available. Of course, good quality wrenches are not cheap, but you’ll find that, as you work different cars you’ll probably be needing the whole set of tools. And even then some cars require manufacturer-specific tools. Think of a timing pin kit, for example, to be able to set the valve timing on some cars.
Then there’s the issue of getting to places. In most cases, and definitely if you decide to go the mobile mechanic route, you need a van or similar, large enough to carry tools and even larger parts is an essential part of your work. It’s your number one essential, so keep your transport in good shape!
Additionally, fit your van with some tool chests in which you can store all your tools. By keeping your tools organised you’ll always be able to find your tools and, importantly, they won’t be in the way to become a safety hazard. If you must feel free to go all OCD in organising your tools and take a leaf out of James May’s book, it can’t harm, can it.
One job which you’ll likely do a lot in your life as a mechanic is changing tyres. A job that brings in some cash for not too much effort, if you have the right tools. Of course, you can rely on arms as tree trunks and some tyre levers to take off a tyre with force. But over time, this can get tiresome, moreover it can easily damage the rims of the customer’s car. Instead get a tyre bead breaker, which will pop the tyre off and on the rim in a jiffy, reducing the risk for damage too.