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  #1  
Old 11-06-2006, 12:55 AM
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Everyone wants car help: What to do?

So I'm mechanically inclined and gaining knowledge at an expensive automotive school. I'm starting to get alot of people asking for free help with their cars. I can understand immediate family and a side job here and there but I can't help everyone...for free.


For those of you who charge a fee, how do you determine your rate? $15-20/hr sounds reasonable at my age.

I started this thread because I have two guys asking for help with their vintage BMW. At first I helped them out on my free time and lent them tools, but now its getting a bit out of hand. I'm at school all week, 1.5 hours away and they are trying to suck up all my free time when I'm home for the weekends. I'd like to help, but I think its time we even things out.

Thanks

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  #2  
Old 11-06-2006, 01:10 AM
ForcedInduction
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I tell them "Sorry, I don't do side jobs." Unless it's a good (Mercedes) friend or something I'd really be interested in doing.

There is also the liability if you accidentally break something or whatever you did didn't fix it.
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  #3  
Old 11-06-2006, 01:29 AM
John Holmes III
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Originally Posted by 123c View Post
Tell them that you will advise them time-to-time when they need serious help, but you aren't going to get your hands dirty, and it will cost them lots of beer
People that own a vintage BMW and want to skimp of repairs are the same people that will sue at the drop of a hat if the brakes that you helped them fix "fail" in the next five years. With the advent if the internet, there is a wealth of information out there, and tools can be had from all over.

I learned the hard way when I helped a buddy rebuild the engine in his 1978 Chevy Blazer. I loaned him most of the tools tools and about a week of evenings and a full weekend, a couple of weeks after the engine was finished he almost blew it up one night going thru mud holes. He blamed me, because he said I set the ignition timing too far advanced. It turned out that the harmonic balanced had gone bad, and the timing marks were off. He never apologized, and I never loaned my mind or tools out again.
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  #4  
Old 11-06-2006, 02:08 AM
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A Doctor and a Lawyer were chatting at a cocktail party.

The Doctor complained, "Everywhere I go, people ask me for free medical advice, I am getting so tired of it. What should I do?"

The Lawyer replied, "Easy, do what I do. Charge them for it."

The next day the Doctor got a bill from the Lawyer.
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  #5  
Old 11-06-2006, 08:31 AM
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This is common to mechanics, so you better get used to giving them a stock answer. You should have two in your arsenal - "No, I don't do side jobs" for people with problems you don't want to deal with, and "I can fix it, you'll have to pay for it, but I can cut you a deal".

From there, I'd make sure I bought the parts for them - if they get cheap-ass parts, they'll expect you to fix it again and again.
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  #6  
Old 11-06-2006, 09:00 AM
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Years ago the husband of a friend of my wife asked if I would help him rebuild/ restore his Opel GT. I always thought they were interesting cars and I agreed to have a look.
The guy was CHEAP. He wanted me to "rebuild" the engine by reusing all the parts in the engine, including rings and gaskets. he had some surplus used parts so i could pick the best available used parts. But he did not see the need to even buy a gasket set.

I beat a hasty retreat.
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Old 11-06-2006, 09:19 AM
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Do what I do.

I have many offers to work on pre-29 autos,sort of my specialty as I'm fairly well known.

"sure I'll do it,but if you have to ask the price you can't afford me".
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  #8  
Old 11-06-2006, 10:01 AM
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Give them just enough generic information to get themselves into trouble. Then when they come back, give them your hourly fee. Don't lend your tools out under any circumstances. A doctor would not lend out his equipment, and neither should you.
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  #9  
Old 11-06-2006, 10:55 AM
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Wise advise given by all...bottom line, if you are a pro, resist the temptation to accept unless you charge. As a non-pro, liability is more the issue. I will assist a VERY good friend or two, but that's it.

What I usually get is folks who stop by the house and happen to take a gander at my home recording studio. You would not believe the number of folks that ask to have me make free recordings and such...and not just my daughter's friends, but adults too!
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  #10  
Old 11-06-2006, 11:09 AM
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While this does not directly apply I find that being a computer tech I get asked often to fix peoples computers at home. My stock answer is No.

After all. I work on the things all day, why would I want to have to deal with them on my free time as well?

- Peter.
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  #11  
Old 11-06-2006, 06:25 PM
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I could find ways around helping them out, but I want to make some money off the deal. In a year I'll be doing this on a professional level, so it couldn't hurt to start now. I really want to make a few bucks too!
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  #12  
Old 11-06-2006, 10:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbzkid View Post
I could find ways around helping them out, but I want to make some money off the deal. In a year I'll be doing this on a professional level, so it couldn't hurt to start now. I really want to make a few bucks too!
$20-30 an hour would be fair. However, you would have to come close to book time. IOW, you have to make book at least.
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Old 11-06-2006, 10:35 PM
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Get used to it. I get it with boats, and expect to get it with real estate soon. With boats I picked up a select few side jobs. Jobs on boats I liked, with people I liked, who I know pay well and don't screw around. Last summer I had half the people on the dock asking me to do stuff on there boats, I only worked on two. Usually you don't want to get involved.

Since I am the MB guy I ended up taking one MB job, that was it, never again. I'll advise and look at cars for my friends, but no wrenching unless its on my buddies cars over a few beers.

With real estate, certain family and a handful of close friends. Everyone else gets a card. My favorite is when a friend hires another agent, isn't happy then starts asking you for advice! Its like wtf.

You need to draw a line or people will take advantage of you. Also these days you need to protect yourself from law suits. Be very carefull who you get involved with, if something happens they could go after you.
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  #14  
Old 11-06-2006, 10:48 PM
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Another thing I like to do is trade favors. I fix your car and you fix my deck or something like that. no money changes hands and I fix it at your place. If anything goes wrong, I was never there.

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