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Why Is Car Servicing So Expensive Now?

Toyota Hilux and Mazda BT50 parked on gravel driveway with green field and fence behind. The Hilux has just been serviced by a mechanic and has the bonnet up. The BT50 has a canopy with the doors open showing some of the tools used in the service. On the door of the BT50 is a sticker that says "Kashy. Find an honest mechanic.".

It's no surprise that we're writing this blog post. In fact, it's a problem that is effecting all of us at the moment. However, while you as a vehicle owner might be shocked at the price of some simple mechanical repairs, believe us when we say we've been absolutely floored as well.

This all came to a head last week when we were talking with some fellow mechanics who mentioned that they have had more irate and aggressive customers over the last year than at any point in their business. And that it all seemed to link back to the cost of living.

We know how this sounds coming from a mechanic, but the team here at Kashy is probably in a unique position when it comes to this subject matter. Not only are we one of the masses of small business that fill the automotive sector (and that fuel the Australian economy), but we've also spent almost 6 years building a reputation of trying to do the right thing by both vehicle owners and the mechanics that work for us.

Before we jump into it we'll acknowledge that we're not perfect at it, but it is something we try to do with every service. And we're all entitled to make a mistake now and then.

However, that's not the topic of today.

There's actually a lot of factors at play in this situation, and even if you might think that all mechanics are just rip-off-merchants hell-bent on draining you of your last dollar, you'd be surprised at how many mechanics and workshops are struggling just to get by.

So why is my car service so expensive?

Well over the last few years, the two of the main costs of running a workshop have absolutely skyrocketed. Labour and parts.

Now, don't get us wrong, labour rates increasing is actually a massive improvement for our industry. It was only a couple of years ago that most mechanics we're making less than $26/hr while sweating it out in a big tin shed all day.

This all stems from a ridiculous shortage in new tradespeople becoming qualified, causing a shortage of staff and an effective bidding war to get anyone vaguely qualified through the doors. Because of this, labour costs in a lot of workshops have doubled in the last couple of years.

This is actually a very good thing as it means that mechanics are now earning (close to) a liveable wage in a lot of places. But, even if it is a good thing, it's the first blow in the massive increase in costs for the business owners.

The next major factor in this problem is the increase in cost of parts.

This issue in particular bothers us most, especially seeing as it's something that we have little to no control over, but here are some of the facts: Over the last few years, we have seen the cost of some simple service parts like oils and filters almost double, alternators and electrical items up 50%, and suspension and steering parts doing whatever they please.

The biggest culprit (surprisingly) is engine oil. Over the last few years, we've seen oil prices from one of our main suppliers jump by up to 10% completely randomly every few months.

So, now we know that the two main costs involved in looking after cars have both jumped up significantly, what are some of the other things that are causing stress?

As a mobile mechanic, we're a little more protected than most as we don't have to deal with rent, but a typical workshop has to pay mechanics, receptionists, rent, insurance, marketing, parts suppliers, taxes and so much more.

We're also a little bit more protected than most at Kashy as we've set up our business model slightly different to most, but that doesn't make us immune to the problems in the industry. While we're always trying to do our best to make sure we look after vehicle owners, we still have to charge enough money to keep the lights on.

So you can see that running a workshop is actually a very big balancing act. You really have one main source of income and a massive amount of outgoing accounts.

Now obviously there are some bad actors out there that charge top dollar for work that (in some cases) isn't even done, but the vast majority of us in the automotive trade are in it because we love the job, even if the pay is shit and keeping it all together is a bit of a struggle.

The next time you're getting a little angry at your mechanic because the cost seems like extortion, just keep in mind some of the costs that are involved in keeping your car on the road.


If you have any questions about this blog post, would like a second opinion from a mechanic or would like to find an honest mechanic in Brisbane, check out Kashy here.

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