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  • in reply to: Stressed about my snap on credit balance.. #660880

      This can be a touchy subject. Tools are a necessary investment and $4500 is just starting out in this business. This amount will not even get you an empty professional toolbox, but if spent wisely can get you working independently and on your way. Do not plan on your payments going away or getting any smaller. Tool needs grow as you grow as a technician. Consider it part of the cost of doing business. Extortion by tool truck. Have fun shopping for a triple bay box, a scan tool and scope.

      These will all pay for themselves, but consider the cost when you are evaluating your career and earnings over time.

      There was a comment comparing education and tool costs with respect to return on investment. Don’t fool yourself into thinking an investment in tools, a material thing is going to give you a greater, or even equal, return than an investment in yourself. If you decide to drop the tools and get a degree in Native American Basket Weaving, the results will vary. Overall, results will vary regardless of where you invest, and the choice is personal. You cannot just pay for a degree, you must change personally and have the ability to earn it. Also, do not confuse an investment in tools with an appreciable investment like education or land. You are purchasing something to be able to work, like any small business. Tooling loses value over time. How is that Snap-On brick treating you these days?

      I spent about 10 years wrenching and came to a conclusion a few years in that there were two distinct paths for me to be successful and I was at the last intersection. You will either have $60,000 in tools or $60,000 in college costs. This can be applied to more than just automotive work, such as, construction or running some other small business. I was frugal on the tools, but now I have just over $70,000 in student loans. Either way, it takes money to make money.

      in reply to: future of the automotive repair industry? #660317

        On the subject of field techs, is this a growing direction of the industry? As cars become more complicated, they are covertly becoming more simple. This will allow dealers and shops to maintain for some time with parts changers. The parts will just be less water pumps and brakes and more body control modules and actuators. Another difference will be a slew of DTCs backing up which part to hang.

        Some of the failures will become more advanced, such as calibration problems or failures of something that does not display the right data in the diagnostic tooling. Or simply a complex array of data and DTCs that require special analysis. In Michigan, I have never seen a mobile diagnostics guy. I have taken a few classes with them, based out of Chicago or some other big city. Will we see an increase in these businesses as top techs look for an escape route out of the industry? I would have tried it if not for the ridiculous investment in OEM scan tools, not to mention, getting burned out with difficult problems. Along with these independent guys, will there be increased work for and dependency on field service engineers working for OEMs?

        in reply to: What is your escape plan? #660230

          Interesting subject that I can speak to. I am an escapee. Out of high school I knew I liked cars so I started changing oil and tires at a local Goodyear shop. My interest was picqued by electronics and engine control systems. I quickly became proficient in electrical diagnostics, engine performance, HVAC and everything else. Since the beginning, I worked full time while obtaining my associate degree. I thought if I could finish that degree I would be set, and to an extent I was. When I put on my first Goodwrench uniform, it felt like a Superman cape. Through my next 4 years of work, life and school experiences, I became more aware of the stigma around automotive repair. We are high level diagnosticians and technicians but we are seen by society and even our own management as grease slinging toothless fools. This stigma is reflected in pay and benefits. Some techs are clueless asshats, but they can be found in any field.

          I could go on for quite a while, but I will summarize. In the depression of 2008, it was clear that working on cars can be a great, challenging, and lucrative career but not without the risk of high tool costs, spotty business and stagnant remuneration across the trade. I made the decision to attend more school and earn my engineering degree. I have 8 years of hands on repair experience and an engineering degree. I am a rare breed, so I cannot recommend this as a career model. I also would not recommend working full time while going to school. This will break most people and you will end up with a half-hearted career and an unfinished degree. With that said, if you are also a rare breed with the capability of more, you owe it to yourself to push to the max. This was my escape plan and is panning out well so far.

          I currently work in service engineering for a diesel engine manufacturer. The strange thing about this is I never worked on diesels. They saw the four year degree (still had a year until graduation), some technical expertise and assumed I could handle it. They were right.

          What, then, can I recommend? I recommend specializing in what you enjoy doing and find challenging. If that happens to be brakes and mufflers, you are going to starve a slow death. Learn transmission repair or become the utmost HVAC expert. Be part of team and share expensive tools. Don’t expect to be able to fix everything. Send it to someone who can or take advantage of hotline resources if you’re in a dealer. There does not have to be an escape plan if everyone works to improve shop life and social stigma. Also, stand up for yourself. If you are being paid peanuts, make peanut butterr….wait, I mean, present your case on why you need to charge an extra hour or why you need a raise and more vacation time.

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