Auto Mechanic

Auto Mechanic

Charles ~ Humble Mechanic

Raleigh, NC

Male, 32

I am one of about 200 master certified VW techs in the USA. I do everything from basic maintenance, to advanced diagnosis. I eat, sleep and breathe VWs. I also have my own website dedicated to helping everyone to understand their car, and see the behind the scenes of being an auto mechanic. You can see more at

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86 Questions


Last Answer on October 20, 2013

Best Rated

Do you think people overestimate the frequency with which mechanics try to rip customers off?

Asked by teri_805 almost 12 years ago

Short answer YES! Most folks know very little about modern cars. They have been told their whole life that mechanics(dealers) will rip them off. I have worked with a few guys that were complete hacks. I would not let them change the oil in my lawn mower. That is not the norm. Most of us are honest, and just want to fix cars right. The other issue is there is more than one person that comes into the equation. You can have a mechanic that is 100% honest, but a service advisor that is a lying scumbag. The best advise is try and find a mechanic that will be "your guy". Someone you can trust, and know that they are looking out for you.

What types of services or fixes are the most profitable for you?

Asked by the other guy almost 12 years ago

Ah yes the gravy work. It really depends. There are some universal "gravy" jobs. One of my favorites is a timing belt on 1.8t Passats. The labor time pays about 5 hours. If I hustle, I can do it in 1 hour. Also, tune ups, brakes, axle boots, oil leaks, some suspension work. Over time techs get faster and faster. Some techs do some jobs faster than others. As long as the outcome 100% correct.

Let's say a mechanic has a thriving shop - busy, profitable, happy employees, the works. If the mechanic wanted to, how could he scale that business? Obviously he could expand the existing shop or open others, but are there other less obvious ways?

Asked by 4 on the floor almost 12 years ago

Interesting question. One that I will answer 2 ways. First, if you are just looking for more income to the shop(nothing wrong with that, it is why you are in business) You can do a few things. Consider rotating shifts. This will allow the mechanics more time off, while keeping the shop full. Consider 4 teams that rotate days off. This can allow mechanics to work 4 longer days. This will also allow you to be open longer. That is the next point. Staying open later 1 night a week can help. You will get the folks that work during normal business hours, and can not make arrangements to leave the car to get work done. Fine tune your processes. Can you switch to a computer system that will allow the repair order to be generated faster? Can you print the RO in advance? That will save time, and allow more focus on the customer. Those are a few things that you can do to bring straight money in. Now, here are some things that might not bring you financial capital(on the surface) but will 100% blow your competition out of the water. TEACH! What if you set aside 2 nights a month and held a clinic for your customers? Teach them how to do small things on their car, air filters, wiper blades easy maintenance stuff. Teach them what good oil looks like, and how to tell if their coolant needs to be flushed. You might not make a ton of money that night, but the social capital you will build will be priceless. Offer the same type of class to the local high school drivers ed students. We teach kids how to drive, but nothing about changing a tire. THAT will set you apart. Start a blog( you can see my site for what I am talking about here) Much like the class, you can show folks what to do, what not to do, and share some of the crazy things that us mechanics see. Think in the terms of "likeable expert". Not only are you telling people how awesome your shop is, you are SHOWING them. I hope that can help spark an idea or two for you shop. Feel free to email me Charles (at) maybe we can bounce some more ideas around!!!

Just wanted to highlight one of your quotes, which is one of the most profound we've seen on Jobstr to date: "When the economy went to hell, people shifted... They are starting to realize that sitting behind a desk does not equal success." Nailed it.

Asked by Jobstr Frank almost 12 years ago

HAHA, Thanks Frank.

What made you decide to specialize in VWs?

Asked by RJ almost 12 years ago

I was a VW fan for a few years before working on them. The blue cluster lights were the first thing I fell in love with. I had a choice from VW, Audi, MB, BMW, and one more that I don't remember. There are more VWs on the road so that was the final deciding factor. I don't regret it for 1 second. Thanks for asking that, it is always fun to reflect on that decision.

Why aren't there more female mechanics? Do you actively try and hire them?

Asked by McCrmck almost 12 years ago

This is a really good question, and not one that I have given much thought to. 1st, we actively try and hire the best, man, women, black, white, it does not really matter. We hire based on skill, knowledge and attitude. I have never seen a women fill out an application for a mechanic at my dealer. Now, as for the why. I think it has a lot to do with numbers. I am sure there are more "car guys" than "car girls". Most mechanics are "car people" in one way or another. That just works its way into the field. I have not worked with any female mechanics. I did go to tech school with a few female students. Most of them were awesome! Smart, logical, hard working, all things you need to be a mechanic. I can tell you that if a female wants to be a mechanic GO FOR IT!!!! Thanks for this question. It is something that I would like to know more about. I will update this post if I can find a good female mechanic to interview, and shed some light on what they think.

Awesome thread, just read through it twice. Does being an auto mechanic translate into being handy in other non-auto areas (like household stuff and plumbing)?

Asked by Jacko almost 12 years ago

Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate that. It does some what. Although not as much as I would like ;) I will say that it does let me know what I am NOT capable of doing, or maybe what is better left to the pros. Things like drywall work and advanced wiring for the house. The cool thing is, I have a ton of tools to do many different jobs.tive tex I have started getting into working with wood. I built this hutch for my tool box. Mechanic Tool Box It came out really good. The Snap-on hutch costs about $3000. I spent about $250 to build that hutch. I figured that I had a few shots at making a hutch before I even came close to the snap on hutch. HAHA.