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This is a question for mechanics about what it's like to work for a dealership?


I got out of the Navy a couple of years ago to pursue the medical field. After two years of schooling(general education crap) and finding out that nursing, x-ray tech, cath lab, etc training programs have looooong waiting lists I'm starting to consider other avenues. Today, after cleaning up a jobsite(construction laborer jobs blow btw) for the family bizz I met with a GM certified instructor who runs the GM ASEP and BSEP program at a local community college. I love working on things, ever since I could remember I've been working on my bikes, moto bikes, my auto's, my computer's, etc etc... Anyhow, I'm really considering on becoming a GM certified mechanic and then specializing. The interview went good, he wants me to accept one of the openings at the school and for the next two years I'd be learning and working hands on. I'd be going to school for 8 weeks, then training under a certified technician at a dealership for 8 weeks, then back to school for 8 weeks, etc... rotates every 8 weeks. I'd also be able to work during the training portion as I've already completed my gen ed's and while the other students do there's I can get more work experience. On top of this great curriculum, they will pay me for every hour I work to learn!!!


So anyways, I just wanted to get some real life opinions about what you think about your job, your future, the industry, average salaries, growth, passion for the work, everyday stress, and so on.


Anyway, not sure how many people are auto mechanics in a dealership, but if you are, I'd love to hear from yah.


Thanks, :cheers:


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Wow nobody will attest to dealership life. I have never worked at a dealer but have the public sector. My sugestion. DON"T DO IT. I would recomend the private sector.IE schools(where I work) or cities. Steady paychecks and insurance. I believe the dealers ae getting better but it's still a per vehicle job (somebody correct me if I'm wrong) If there's no cars you got no money. A dealer usually has no retirment either. Get old and you will get gone. On my side the tech I replaced retired at 78 from here. The world needs techs but we do not get the lions share of the cash. A busy shop and the ability to beat the book and you can make bank. Returns are done free by you.

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Just my .02- If you really love mechanics- don't do it for a living !!! It'll suck all the fun out of it !!


I do it on the side all the time and I really enjoy it. The tougher the job, the more I dig it (even tho I'll cuss-up a storm in the process and swear I'll never do it again :cheers: !!). But I always do !!


Ever consider being a machinist ?? That is a really cool gig- great pay, always in demand (in my area, anyway), get to make cool stuff ;) .

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My sugestion. DON"T DO IT. I would recomend the private sector.I believe the dealers ae getting better but it's still a per vehicle job (somebody correct me if I'm wrong) If there's no cars you got no money.  Returns are done free by you.






Unless you work at our dealership!,The techs are union and if they are there 40 hrs. they get paid 40hrs. weather there is work there or not,they also get paid for there comebacks.

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I dont know about GM but I had a nieighbor that was BMW tech and he loved it. He was a tech at a Ford dealer when he switched to them and said it was night and day. He said that they had a great training program and the pay was alot better. I think he even went to Munich for training.

Just my 2 cents

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Well I was stuck at a desk job and hated it. I"m running out of options for training as the things I'm interested in including the GM program have waiting lists in most places. I figure I can do the training with GM, and if the work is slow, or they try and jack me around, then I'll just move onto a different dealer or area that offers a better setup. They say that this year there are over 100k shortages of techs. I can't imagine that its too slow? Everyone I know goes for the bachelor route, accounting, buisiness, etc but they all hate their jobs, or start off with the same pay I'd be starting off with. I hated working in an office, and even though it was military, it's pretty much the same as working for Microsoft or Progressive, it's office work plain and simple. I'm picking this program because I love working on things. Yeah, there's draw backs it seems, but aren't there draw backs for most any "Job" you do!? I figure I'll start off with a high volume sales dealer, and get to know the ropes, that plus the training I should be good to go. And with auto's constantly getting more and more high tech, I'll just gear my learning towards the computer based systems, electronics, etc and make myself a hot commodity. I really want to do something like this, I can't see myself in a uniform or business suite anymore. I like working hands on, the training is available, and I have a few connections with some dealers in the area including the Caddy dealer through family.


So how does it work? Dealers only pay you to be there for the scheduled times? I thought mechanics were there 40 hours a week and got paid hourly? I realize there's no retirement like a govt. job, but if I get skilled enough no govt. job is going to pay me over 50 k a year to do what I was doing either. I guess its a give and take type of thing on picking a career, hopefully my future other will have the job with beni's and I'll just be able to make some good cash by making myself marketable.

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So how does it work?  Dealers only pay you to be there for the scheduled times?  I thought mechanics were there 40 hours a week and got paid hourly?






While it depends on the dealer you work at,As I said earlier our dealership is union and the techs. work "flat-rate",this means that for example say the book says it takes 1-hr. to change a water pump but it really took you 2-hrs. guess what? your only getting paid 1-hr. for that job,but say it pays 2-hrs. to change a fuel pump but you did in 1 hr. then you made 1 hr. because your getting paid 2hrs. for a job that only took you 1-hr.(hope that wasn't confusing!)

This is where alot of guys lose money because they can't do the job in the time it pays,they might be there 40hrs. a week but only turn 30hrs. and therefore get paid for 30hrs. (even though they were there 40)

Now the guys at are shop are lucky because in there union contract they are promised 40hrs. now matter how many hours they turn.

But most shops are not that way or have a "promise" of 40hrs.

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That.....Or firecrackers. 


I gotta hear about this one






I had a guy give me 4 cases of bottle rockets for dropping and re-installing his tranny. He had a local tranny shop do his upgrades (I generally don't mess with transmissions), but they wanted $1000 just to drop it out and put it back in PLUS the actual work.


I still have 3 cases, two years later. And this is after a few rocket-wars (PVC pipe bazookas) with friends every new years and every 4th of July. But that's a whole thread in and of itself. :cheers:

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I first started working as a tech in a GM dealership in 1968 and since then I have worked for nothing but Chevy stores. I have to say that it has made me a decent living over the years but I wouldn't do it again. Right now I'm more along the lines of a shop foreman/manager and don't turn wrenches for a living, though I am very involved in the diagnostic end. I get a salary and commission on the department's gross and get paid very well for what I do. But I would never go back to being a line tech.


I was born and raised and spent the first half of my life in Chicago, which is a VERY union town (even the car porters were in a union!) and I now live and work in S. Florida, where unions are basically the devil incarnate. So, I've been on both sides of that fence.


In this area anyway, and I suspect most others with no union, there are few benefits. I worked for my previous store in this area for 21 years when they sold the dealership and the land and basically said, "don't let the door hit you in the butt." I left with what I walked in there with 21 years earlier. When I retire, and that ain't too far off, I will have whatever I've personally saved for myself. There's been no contribution by any dealership. I am fortunate to be on my wife's health insurance because I'd probably pay 500-600 a month for that. Not knowing what it's like elsewhere, I don't know if that's bad or good, but it doesn't sound good to me!


Like I said, it's been good to me, but times are changing and if I had it to do all over again, I would NOT be working as a mechanic. I'm kicking myself for not staying with Motorola where I started after high school. I probably would have been retired already with a fat pension. But no, I just had to work on cars. Sounded fun at the time. :cheers:


It's a tough, back breaking job at times. Like was mentioned, most work at flat rate with no guaranteed income (except maybe union shops). If you get a real tough job that you spend a lot of time just diagnosing, you'll be lucky not to starve. I've seen guys spend HOURS on something, and get paid minutes. And if something goes wrong, your fault, not your fault, it's your fault. You'll do the job over for nothing. You'll get the, "it wasn't like that when I brought it in" and so the service manager doesn't have to listen to the whining customer, he will probably take care of it. But who is the one that really fixes it for nothing? You! You worked on it so you must have caused whatever it is. You may have replaced a headlight, but if the radio now doesn't work, it wasn't like that when they brought it in and you must have done something...intentionally of course. So you'll spend your time to fix it for no pay.


You think the work in the dealership is all cool stuff. Working on engines, etc., but it's not. Warranty work is spending a half day trying to find some guy's squeak in the front end that he just can't possibly live with ("my kids will die!") and you are a first class jerk if you can't fix it while he waits. After all, you're a "mechanic" and should be able to just walk up to the truck and find some big piece hanging off that's causing all this racket. Or my favorite, "Can't you just put it on 'THE COMPUTER'?" Like we have some magic computer that gives us all the answers and tells us what part needs to be replaced. jeesh.


You'll probably be expected to work six days a week, at least every other week, since most dealership service departments are open on saturdays now for convenient service. You'll spend most of your saturday doing interesting things like oil changes for 3 tenths of an hour pay. But mostly it is warranty work that doesn't pay at all because it doesn't take into account so many variables. And when you've done this for 20 or 30 years, they won't even say thanks for the memories.


If work is slow (like it is right now) and you're not in a shop that has a guaranteed number of hours that you'll be paid (union shops, mostly), you could be there 8-5 every day plus saturday and make 20 hours. Can't pay your bills? tough. That's the number of hours you 'flagged', that is what you get paid for. If it is a union shop with a guarantee, how long do you think they're going to put up with them having to make up the difference in your pay. Union or not, they'll find a way to get you out of there if it's costing them money every week.


The good part? If there is one? If you're a good tech (and even if you're not!), you'll never want for a job. Service departments are constantly looking for techs and you can go anywhere, anytime.


When a young kid comes to me wanting to get into this line of work, I tell 'em "Kid, go to work for the power company or the phone company or the county because there's no future in this business." And to the young ones that are currently turning wrenches... "get out while you still can."


I know a lot of top notch techs that have left this business. One we had in our store was highly qualified, made $70,000 to $80,000 a year! (that's rare, so don't get your hopes up) He went to work for the county for about $15.00 an hour. Why? He knew there was room there for advancement, benefits and retirement at the end. He's been there about a year now and is up to $22 an hour and knowing his qualifications, he'll soon be in charge. He works no weekends, gets all those federal holidays off that we don't get, gets out of work at 4 pm, gets sick days, personal days, vacation, etc. So yeah, for a few years he's going to suffer with much less pay than he's used to, but in the long run, he's done the smart thing.


Do I sound bitter? You betcha! When I retire, I'm going to be living on social security plus the little bit I finally had the smarts to put away on my own (though too little too late). And when someone asks what I do, why is it I feel like I have to be ashamed to admit I work in a dealership. Could it because many of you see us as the "stealership" as you call it.


No, I'd think about this really hard before deciding to do this for a living. There's no glory, no fun and definitely no benefits.

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