Here’s a big one that we as mechanics are always unrecognized for…..our tools! The everyday average person has no idea of the equipment and tools needed these days to repair a vehicle. Experienced journeyman technicians can have upwards of $50,000 in tools alone, and sometimes even much higher than that! Everyone usually starts out the same in this field. A small, cheap toolbox, just the basics in hand tools, sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers, etc. As we gain experience and start working on more and more vehicles, the need for more tools comes up all the time.
When I first started, it was at a small independent shop with a limited clientele. I had a limited collection of hand tools, and a few air tools. I soon realized that if I wanted to keep up in this business, as well as keep learning, I would need more tools. I started what seemed an endless week after week visit to the tool trucks that stopped by our shop. Now, the higher end tools like Snap-On, Mac, and Matco all have drivers and trucks that come around to the shops and sell their wares. This is nice when you need a tool fixed or replaced, and most have a lifetime warranty.
After I made it into the dealership, the need for more elaborate tools arose with the technically advanced cars and trucks I was now working on. Those first four years or so, I was literally spending $5,000 a year on tools. And that didn’t even include the price of a new, bigger Snap-On toolbox I bought as well! That was another $5,000! So, by the end of about my fifth year with the dealership, I was already at $25,000 in tools and my toolbox.
The thing you have to consider with being a mechanic, is that new cars come out every year. There is usually something new or different on every model. This, more often than not, requires special new tools to complete repairs on them. It’s a vicious cycle, that is always draining money from technician’s bank accounts! My wife will even say to me when I come home from work and show her the receipt for a new tool, “You had to buy another tool?!” I have to tell her that she doesn’t understand the amount of things I need to do my job. This is the way with just about everyone else too, from the common customer to even the do-it-yourself guy.
Now, another decade or so later….I’ve since added a side cabinet, locker, stainless steel top and more to just my toolbox to the tune of about another $5,000. As well as another $20,000 or so in tools since then. You can see how it ads up over a lifetime in the business, and I still have many years to go! The funny thing is, I have salesmen at the dealership, customers, and delivery guys still coming by my area and noticing my toolbox and asking, “How much you got in that thing, a couple thousand?” I will usually smirk or laugh and tell them the real figure. The wide eyed stare from them usually comes next along with comments like, “Oh my God!”, or, “Are you serious?”. Even people in the business don’t realize how much we have to pay just to be able to do our jobs! My Snap-On tool dealer, who I’ve dealt with for over 15 years, has very much appreciated my business, as all tool guys do! You definitely pay the price for having ‘come to you’ service, but it’s well worth it in the long run, not having to go out and buy your tools or get them fixed. The electronic age has brought even more need for advanced tools to the car repair business. Scanners, diagnostic equipment, electrical tools and more are needed if you are to succeed in today’s automotive field. Like I’ve said before, it’s a never ending cycle. I’m sure I’ll be having to buy some new tool to fix this or that on a new car very soon! My wife will be so happy, LOL!
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