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Old 02-13-2007, 02:19 AM
 
Location: Cody WY Off Of Belfry Hwy
737 posts, read 2,840,101 times
Reputation: 233

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Could a guy make a living as a self employed auto mechanic in MT? I am seriously considering opening up a single (just me) man auto repair/service shop. All of my friends here told me I should do it, but in California, the cost just to get started would be rediculous.

Is there much of a call for non technical (diagnostic) automotive service in MT? Things like basic servicing i.e. brake jobs, tune ups, oil changes, etc. Does anyone know the average hourly shop rate in the smaller (city) areas, and also areas that might be in need of a shop?

I assume MT does not have vehicle inspections or emissions testing either?
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Old 02-13-2007, 08:44 AM
 
35 posts, read 180,813 times
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A couple of years ago, there was a shop here in Whitehall for sale for 100k. It had one bay, was right off the interstate,next to a Town Pump. At the time they just did oil changes and small stuff like you mentioned. I wanted my SIL to buy it and expand but he wasn't ready to make that kind of move. The guy that bought it added on two bays and seems to be very busy. Next to him there a shop that does bigger jobs. We used to send all the rver's there that had problems, they are open all the time it seems. I don't know about hourly rates. Even in this small town, there are a few more shops. Still wish SIL would make the move.
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Old 02-13-2007, 10:24 AM
 
51 posts, read 211,859 times
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Default Opening a shop

I don't know what the cost of opening a shop would be --- rent or building may be less but cost of tools would still be high. There seems to be plenty of small shops that make it but it takes time to build up a business in a small town. Here there is a need for mechanics in auto. and farm equipment --- some are even willing to pay for training. It might be best to ck into those kind of openings first. Let me know if you need more info. about those kinds of jobs in this area.
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Old 02-13-2007, 12:14 PM
MHT
 
434 posts, read 2,067,528 times
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Default auto repair

Quote:
Originally Posted by johns65vette View Post
Could a guy make a living as a self employed auto mechanic in MT? I am seriously considering opening up a single (just me) man auto repair/service shop. All of my friends here told me I should do it, but in California, the cost just to get started would be rediculous.

Is there much of a call for non technical (diagnostic) automotive service in MT? Things like basic servicing i.e. brake jobs, tune ups, oil changes, etc. Does anyone know the average hourly shop rate in the smaller (city) areas, and also areas that might be in need of a shop?

I assume MT does not have vehicle inspections or emissions testing either?
I think if you have a shop with a good, honest mechanic you'll be swamped before too long. I know when we lived near Great Falls it was tough to find one.
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Old 02-13-2007, 02:31 PM
 
Location: Cody WY Off Of Belfry Hwy
737 posts, read 2,840,101 times
Reputation: 233
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdcowgirl View Post
I don't know what the cost of opening a shop would be --- rent or building may be less but cost of tools would still be high. There seems to be plenty of small shops that make it but it takes time to build up a business in a small town. Here there is a need for mechanics in auto. and farm equipment --- some are even willing to pay for training. It might be best to ck into those kind of openings first. Let me know if you need more info. about those kinds of jobs in this area.
I already have 2 tool boxes full of tools With the exception of maybe some specialized new car fastener type tools, I should be pretty well covered. Now books on the other hand Those can start adding up very quickly.

I also thought about getting a flat bed type truck and putting a welder on it, and maybe one of those (the name escaspes me right now) machines for zapping out broken bolts and taps. Could farm myself out to farmers, auto shops, and industry.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MHT View Post
I think if you have a shop with a good, honest mechanic you'll be swamped before too long. I know when we lived near Great Falls it was tough to find one.
Might be part of my problem....I am to honest sometimes. Probably end up losing money

I have a little funny story:

Over this last weekend, my wifes friend called and wanted me to role play as her husband (get your mind out of the gutter now ) because her car was at a transmission shop, and they told her the trans went bad because the catalytic converter was messed up Now, this same shop had just rebuilt the trans a couple of months prior to this event, so it was still under warranty. They wanted another $800, for this rebuild. She just spent $3500 to get the trans rebuilt 2 months prior.

Basically they told her it wasn't covered under warranty, because of the faulty catalytic converter. So, after getting somewhat up to speed on what was going on, I called the guy (owner).

I questioned him about how a cat. could possibly cause the problem with the trans. He said because it is like trying to push a wall when you step on the gas. There is no power, and it caused the trans to overheat and fail. I told the guy, if a cat. fails, which I have had happen before, your engine basically, loses power, which is true. That would make it like trying to push a wall....but, torque and horsepower are generally what cause transmissions to fail. Now, if a cat. is plugged your engine power and torque are at the very least, half of what it should be, so how do you explain this?
He just continued with the wall pushing theory

In the end, I went with her (as myself not the husband) to pick up the car, and drive it home, so I could see first hand, what it was doing. She and the owner settled on $400 to get the car out.
We left the shop, and the car was running good. Trans was shifting fine. By the time we got halfway to her house (about 2 miles) the car lost major power. I knew right away, that it was indeed an issue with the catalytic converter. I also noticed how much different the transmission acted. The car was laboring, and holding in one gear for long periods of time, and then it would slam into the next gear.
When we got to her house, I told her, you know what? The guy was right about the cat. being bad, but there is no way you could have driven the car like it was, for a long enough period of time to cause the trans to fail. When the cat. acted up the car was so down on power, that it would hardly move. Basically the same as stuffing a potato in the tailpipe.

The trans shop owner, did brag about how he has been doing this for 40+ years blah, blah, blah, which is fine, but, he has Hose "A" and Hose "B" out there in the shop doing the work, and if no one checks their work then....

That is another reason why I would just want a one man shop. I don't want to have to oversee others' work. If it gets screwed up, then I only have myself to blame.
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Old 02-13-2007, 03:33 PM
 
Location: mid wyoming
2,008 posts, read 6,027,612 times
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I think a honest mechanic would make a go anywhere. I would check into the tax situation in Montana. It dosn't have sales tax but has income tax and I think yearly tax on possesions. I have seen people move out of montana just to have better tax paying abilities with other states. I can't remember the exact reasons.
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Old 02-13-2007, 03:47 PM
 
Location: Cody WY Off Of Belfry Hwy
737 posts, read 2,840,101 times
Reputation: 233
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowwalker View Post
I think a honest mechanic would make a go anywhere. I would check into the tax situation in Montana. It dosn't have sales tax but has income tax and I think yearly tax on possesions. I have seen people move out of montana just to have better tax paying abilities with other states. I can't remember the exact reasons.
Yes, that is another reason, I am also looking at WY. They seem very good towards businesses.
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Old 02-13-2007, 04:51 PM
 
Location: Nashville, Tn
7,916 posts, read 16,758,095 times
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My Step-Father owned his own diesel repair business in Butte for at least 30 years and was very successful. He finally retired and sold his business but it certainly can be done. I guess it just takes time to establish yourself and get a good reputation. I wouldn't recommend one of the smaller towns because business is going to be limited and it's most likely that someone has already cornered the market and knows everybody in town. I noticed someone mentioned Whitehall. Of course that's a real small town but my cousin lives there and last I heard he was making a living as a mechanic although he wasn't running his own shop. It would be important to really study the market and see where a business might be able to succeed and also where there's already too much competition but I'm sure you could do it if you're determined. Good Luck.
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Old 02-13-2007, 09:25 PM
 
9 posts, read 40,371 times
Reputation: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowwalker View Post
I think a honest mechanic would make a go anywhere. I would check into the tax situation in Montana. It dosn't have sales tax but has income tax and I think yearly tax on possesions. I have seen people move out of montana just to have better tax paying abilities with other states. I can't remember the exact reasons.
I think if you were an honest mechanic, you would do great. We lived in Billings for 8 years (just moved last June) and when we found a honest mechanic, we stuck with him (and he was self-employed; did very well; built up a great business for himself). Montana doesn't do vehicle inspections or emission testing (at least Billings didn't). No sales tax, but state income tax and they also do a property tax type thing on your vehicle which makes registration very expensive on vehicles. I don't ever remember a yearly tax on possessions; I wonder if this person was referring to the vehicle registration. Good luck with wherever you decide to open a business. As long as you are honest, I think you will succeed about anywhere.
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