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Is it Possible to Find Qualified Auto Repair?

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/24/2007 | Auto and Trucks

Do you own and drive a car? Do you have a good mechanic or technician that services it for you? Or do you just go wherever the price is the cheapest? If you answered yes to the last question, you best change your ways. You need to find an honest, well-established repair shop to insure that your car can be serviced at all.

Did you know that there is a severe shortage of "qualified" automotive technicians today? It is estimated that within the next five to ten years, maybe sooner, there is going to be a major problem in the automotive repair industry. No technicians to work on your car! Next time you're at your local shop, take a look around. What is the average age of the people working there? The average is 52. You won't see a lot of younger people. Most of the mechanics and technicians working today are getting older and closer to retirement. As they leave or retire, they aren't being replaced a lot of the time. If things continue on this path, automotive repair could become a commodity of extreme value.

Young people today are not coming into this field anymore. Auto repair is not a glamorous occupation or an extremely high paying one. It's dirty, it's messy, you work long hours, and you get little or no respect - you get the point. We are not the most "popular" profession. Most kids today are, for the lack of a better word, lazy. They do not want to work on cars for a living. Auto repair is one of the grass roots "blue collar" jobs. That means a lot of honest hard work.

As more and more mechanics and technicians retire, their positions aren't being filled. A lot of the repair shops are downsizing instead. It is already getting harder to find a qualified tech to replace someone who leaves. With the shortage of good techs, they are now demanding a higher wage. This increase in wage puts a strain on all the repair shops, from the Mom and Pop garages to the multi-new car mega dealerships. The average hourly rate in California is over 80.00 an hour already! So that is slowly adding to the problem.

The cars today are so technically enhanced and complicated that they literally cost a fortune in equipment, training, and tools to service, which also adds to the problem. Some cars today have up to six computers running everything from engine controls to anti-lock brakes. Getting people interested in auto repair as a career is looking worse every day!

Just being able to afford the necessary tools is just one reason why Junior is not interested in this industry. For example, a handheld scanner used to access a car's on-board computer systems, which is a necessity to service newer vehicles, will cost over 8000! The shop owners don't pay for them, the tech does. In California, if you want to become a licensed smog tech, that 8000 scanner is just one of many costly tools that you are required to have to do smog tests and repairs. You can make a good living doing it, but it takes time and experience. Who wants to spend 10,000 or more on hand tools just to start? The smart, focused kids today want to start a job that doesn't come with the headaches and costs associated with starting out. The smart ones are going to school longer and getting a "white collar" job that pays big bucks without the big outlay for equipment.

It all comes down to this. We have to drive. We have to go to work. We need our cars to take us to the doctor, grocery store, softball practice, dentist and so forth. We need to have our cars serviced and repaired. Hopefully, this trend will reverse and will not get worse. With a little time and effort spent "interviewing" a number of repair shops, auto repairs and service will not be one of life's "major" problems that you have to deal with.... YET. Getting your car serviced should be as simple as taking out the trash on trash day. Today, it is different. At least it sure seems that way based on what customers have to say. Stories of people getting ripped off, or having poor quality work done, or not even getting what they paid for at all...abound. It doesnt have to be so painful.

So, the next time you take your car into the shop, say "Hi" to the guy you trust to repair your car. If you know someone interested in cars, encourage him or her to pursue it as a profession. It can be rewarding. After all, what would you do without your car?