By on March 25, 2013

 

A couple of years ago, my car died in the middle of the night while at a friend’s house. The tow fees to my house and then to my mechanic ended up costing more than the alternator replacement itself. I still cringe to this day when I think about the final sum, and a service like YourMechanic.com would have made things a lot easier on my wallet and my sanity.

A sort of automotive paramedic, Yourmechanic.com will dispatch a mechanic to your location to perform most repairs. Everything from troubleshooting to a tune-up to things like alternator replacements and brake jobs are on offer, provided your car is in a parking lot or driveway (they won’t work on a vehicle if its street parked). The repairs are backed by a 12-month/12,000 mile warranty, and best of all, users can pick from a variety of mechanics based on their profiles and their listed credentials.

Most TTAC readers – or at least commenters – are likely to scoff at the notion of needing a mechanic to make house calls. But there are some of us out there *ahem* who tend to screw things up even worse as soon as they pick up a wrench. For those types of people, there’s definitely some value here. Not that I’d know or anything…

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

39 Comments on “Bay Area Service Provides Mechanics On Call...”


  • avatar
    Mike

    This seems a bit like france’s healthcare system.
    But for car repair.

  • avatar
    noreaster

    After sitting for a couple of years, my old car’s brakes rusted shut, and I couldn’t get them off. Craigslist had some ads from mechanics (individuals, as I recall) that would come to your driveway to work. As it happens, I didn’t go that way, but it sure seemed like it might be a good idea.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    AAA towing 100 miles 3 times a year for around $100. I have free repair information from my friend on their respective forums. Having a back up car(s)…Priceless!

    • 0 avatar
      mannygg

      This! I have no idea how roadside assist organisations make money, since my membership fees have always paid themselves off and then some. Free towing, free basic mechanics service, free hire car and hotel is you have a more inclusive package.

      I was involved in an accident in Norway (old landrover, heavy snow, very lucky!) and the drivers German ADAC memebership covered EVERYTHING . This even included a crane to lift the car and a hire car for the 3 days while a local mechanic checked it over. All for 98€ per year…

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        I must be paying for all this. I’ve given AAA $75 a year since 1998 and have had them come out an give me a jump once because I left an overhead light on for a few days.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      This! Always keep a second vehicle handy if your main one is unreliable. Another option is keeping a car rental company on speed-dial.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    I have performed on site service for a couple of friends, the last one being umemployed and not able to pay for a tow. It didn’t tie up my garage or driveway either. This only works on warm days. Breakdowns on cold days need not call.

  • avatar
    fatalexception04

    We have the mobile mechanics (company name) here on long island. They are great. I’ve had them do a lot of work on a few of my cars. Very convenient, honest, their ASE certified and competitively priced. I think its a great business idea.

  • avatar

    Have had this kind f servisse for years in Brazil. The best thing is that they’ll work on the car even if its parked on the street, no problem! In Brazil, when you have insurance, usually free towing is part of the package. So covered both ways I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Marcelo,

      The problem is mobile mechanics here tend to be complete flakes. They’re virtually unemployable and that’s why they’re on their own.

      My igniter/module (EEC-IV) went ‘south’ when I was somewhere in Baja California and it was a good thing I would never leave home without a spare. Anyways, we walked a couple miles to the nearest repair shop for I didn’t have an 8mm socket. The mechanic had no problem swapping it roadside and his bill came the equivalent of $5. He earned a 1000% tip that day.

      • 0 avatar

        the quality of the guys’ work varies, but in a pinch it’s better than nothing. The truth is that whenever my car stopped it was due to the battery, which i knew was going to happen. So you call the shop, the guy comes, tests it and changes.

        Only once have i been stuck on the road. I got hold of a local mechanic but he said the car was too complex for him. In this case it was clear that it was an issue with the car not recognizing the key so i called the insurance company and they sent a tow truck.

        Recently, my Ford Ka was towed twice due to overheating problems (finally it got headgasket work done and its been fine for two months, crossing my fingers). The first time the dealership that sold it to me did (here they are legally obliged to give 3 month warranty) it, the second time i had my insurance company to it to the dealership because the warranty period had expired, but they did do the fix on their dime.

        All of this to say that today, with cell phones, insurance company paying for tolls, legal warranties and an increasing competition for consumers, unless i’m in the middle of the amazon, nowadays in Brazil, we’re pretty well covered.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    This is an excellent idea – thanks for sharing. I had no idea such a business existed!

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    You can’t swap an alternator? I thought you were a car guy.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I had to pay a dealer to swap disks and pads the other week.

      I can do the job myself, but I was busy at work/school/home. It took me about 6 hours the last time I did it, and I hadn’t ordered the parts. It was a Friday afternoon, and we had a 4.5 hour drive planned for the weekend, and there was no way I was going to take my wife and son on a trip like that in questionable weather, in unfamiliar territory, and with warped disks.

      So, I called the dealer and they had me and my minivan ready to go in 2 hours. They charged me through the nose for it, but they do solid work, and it made sense for me to pay it that time. It’s a perfect example of demand pricing. I just didn’t have 6 hours to do the job, so paying a pro a couple of hundred dollars to do it was the best alternative available.

      My biggest regret? I need to show my son how to swap brakes. But he’s only 3, so we’ll have another chance before he turns 15!

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      It depends where the alternator is. On a Subaru? No problem. On a Honda? Get ready to disconnect a drive shaft as you come in from underneath, and have a few plastic bags handy.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Back in the 70′s someone had an idea for a chain of garages where they rented space as well as having loaner tools to fix your own vehicle. I guess it was a not a sustainable business model since I have not heard of it since the advent of leasing deals, cheap credit and cars have just gotten far more reliable.

    • 0 avatar
      fatalexception04

      They do exist. I’ve seen some in Maryland. You rent the bay and can either bring your own tools or rent them. The few times I passed it they were busy. I wish we had that in NY but I’m sure insurance and liability limits its appeal.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      NPR’s Car Talk guys claimed to have started out with an idea like that. IIRC, their tools kept walking out the door, and customers kept asking for help, so it eventually evolved into a conventional car repair business.

      At least that’s the story they tell on the radio!

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      There were a couple places around here that gave the rent-a-bay idea a go. They both lasted ~ 1 year. All the overhead, but none of the income!

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        Ive seen a rent-a-booth car painting idea come and go also.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The only way I could see this working out well is if a full service shop decided to rent out 1 or 2 under-utilized bays.

          Could also make easy sales on diagnostics once the shade-tree or DIY guy pounds a half dozen parts based on his internet diagnosis and the problem is still there.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    That photo is very ironic. I have been in that position – changing camshaft on my $400 Plymouth Tourismo, brakes on $800 2002, alternator on $2K 200sx. Here? Here you got a Beetle that looks virtually new, sitting all torn apart with desponent owner. No, I am not a VW hater.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I am a VW hater! But only because I once owned one.

      I was only expecting Ford-level reliability, but I sure didn’t get that! And my beater 1998 Ranger turned out to be vastly more reliable than my 2001 Jetta – despite both cars needing constant care and feeding.

      The photo documents what owning a VW was like. New-looking car. Torn apart in the driveway. Head in hands.

      It was doubly depressing, since my Jetta was so much fun to drive!

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Funny – I assumed that was the YourMechanic guy in the photo. Hopefully not.

      I traded my unreliable VW before its warranty expired – too many dealer trips told me it would be expensive later.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        That was my mistake!

        I owned a VW out of warranty because I’d kept two Fords running cheaply by being handy with a wrench. I’m also a computer guy, so I’m comfortable troubleshooting electronics.

        But I’m not up to doing a transmission swap every few weeks in my driveway.

        If I’d bought a newish one and traded it before the warranty expired, it would have merely been a sub-optimal ownership experience, rather than a financial disaster.

        I thank my lucky stars that the dealer and I failed to agree on the trade-in value of my old Ranger. It may have been a beater, but the fact that it ran saved my hide. And I kept the Ranger for four years after that little misadventure.

        I respect Ford a lot more, now!

    • 0 avatar
      YourMechanic.com

      The photo is one of our mechanics (Zak) who is replacing the oil pan (oil was leaking from it) and doing the timing belt job.

      - art (from YourMechanic.com).

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The mobile mechanic would love making calls to my place. Don’t bother dragging your tools. Oh yeah, you can leave your creeper and jack stands too, theres a 2 post hoist in there.

    Maybe if I get lazy one day…

  • avatar
    nikita

    Actually this could work, if more formally organized. Fleet tire services have been around forever. Just expand upon this to non-fleet customers and increase the range of services. Most major brand tire dealers do a wide range of services anyway.

    Has anyone seen how its done in NYC? Mobile mechanics do work in the street. Customers simply have no off-street parking options.

    • 0 avatar
      YourMechanic.com

      We have spoken with a few mechanics in NYC area. Many cities in CA has strict laws against working on cars parked on public streets. Also, sometimes it is not safe either if you have a busy street.

      -art (from yourmechanic.com)

  • avatar
    Jacob

    My Geico policy allows to add roadside assistance for something like $15 for each 6 month cycle on top of all other fees, which I did take advantage of. My car got towed 3-4 times since then. I paid $0. My insurance premium stayed the same. A great deal for someone with an older car(s).

  • avatar
    Luke42

    I see the tractor-trailer equivalent of these services working on trucks by the side of the interstate pretty regularly.

    Where I grew up, one of these guys bought a decommissioned ambulance for the purpose. It had lots of lights, and was easy to see by the side of the road – so it was probably the perfect vehicle for the job. And the owner was a diesel mechanic, so the age probably wasn’t much of a problem for him!

  • avatar
    JMII

    My boat guy makes house calls. He sold his business, claimed the land lord kept raising the rates at his shop/garage. So he switched to just heading over to people’s houses and working on their outboard engines. This works well because you don’t need a lift or any other major tools. Of course you are working outside… in Florida (!) so having LOTS of water to drink is important.

    Surprised more mechanics don’t do this too – after all when you cars is broken it is kind of hard to drive it over to the fix-it place.

    • 0 avatar
      YourMechanic.com

      You are right. We found over 7,000 mechanics promoting themselves on craigslist as mobile mechanics. 100+ here in the bay area (northern california).

  • avatar
    chrishs2000

    I’m sure they will, but at what price? My window regulator literally exploded in Florida two years ago while on our honeymoon. I called 10 different “mobile auto repair” companies, none of which offered same day service and all of which wanted $300+ to replace a $40 part. I duct taped it shut, drove it home, and then replaced the regulator in less than half an hour. If I had known it was such a simple procedure I would have just done it when I was in Florida.

    • 0 avatar
      YourMechanic.com

      Our system generates a fair quote (based on standard book time), so you don’t have to negotiate the price with the mechanics. We also have the parts catalog from different suppliers integrated with our online system so that you can get an instant fair price without having to call different mechanics…. Mechanics working with us here in the bay area (northern california) are charging $75-$85 an hour. The average shop charges over $105 an hour in this area.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India