How much is your time worth?
Going into our 8th month in business, I have made a realization. A Mechanic’s time might be worth $80/hr or more, but how much is your time worth to do the work yourself? To put it another way, doing your own repairs saves you money, but spending several hours on a repair, it’s easy to loose sight of how much money you are saving and what that may be worth to you. Essentially, you are paying yourself to work on your own car through the savings of not paying someone else. To illustrate my thought, I have 3 real examples from customers who have come in and saved a large amount on servicing their vehicles.
Recently, a customer came into our shop to replace the front struts on his 2002 VW Jetta TDi. Both were shot and one had leaked all of its fluid. But, before coming in to do the repairs himself, he called around and found a reasonable shop that quoted him $550-600 including the struts for replacement. This customer knew he could do the work himself, but wasn’t sure about spending the time on it. In the end, though, he decided to do it himself and came in to our shop. We ordered the parts in advance for him and had them waiting. While he was at it, he decided to also replace the brake rotors and pads. It was his first time replacing the struts on this vehicle and luckily he had a service manual, and me, to help him through it. Even though he had these resources available, simple mistakes can happen and indeed he did have to fix one strut install after the fact. This added about 45 minutes on to the process. All told, including parts, he spent $350 on 5.5 hours of work. He saved himself just over $160. So, what was his time worth? If you take the savings difference and divide it by the time spent, he paid himself $29/hr to complete this repair. If you don’t count the cost of the brake job it jumps to $52/hr! If he had taken his car to a dealership, it surely would have significantly increased the price. He paid himself up to $52/hr to fix his own car vs. taking it to someone else.
Clutches are a common piece of maintenance required for any manual transmission. We have seen quite a few come into our shop. Not long ago we had a 1990 Nissan 240sx come in for a clutch replacement. Now, the average clutch replacement at a transmission shop runs approximately $700 give or take. All told, he spent 6.5 hours in time removing and reinstalling his transmission and replacing the clutch along with several hours of tool rental time. That is about $160 in shop and tool time. Include with that about $150 for a new clutch and another $20 for a bearing and the total spent is about $330. How much did his time end up being worth to him? Assuming a shop did not charge more than $700, his time was worth $67/hr! But, that’s not even the most someone in our shop paid themselves to DIY their repairs.
Earlier this summer, with the extreme heat, fuel pumps failed. Many people experienced this issue and were hopelessly stuck. One of those people came to us after getting a quote from a semi-large automotive chain in the area. A fuel pump replacement on their Chevy Trailblazer would cost them $1500!! Having never done much automotive work, she and her husband decided to take a chance and DIY their repair. We purchased their Fuel Pump and they hired our mechanic ($25/hr) to advise them on the repair. So, time in the shop, mechanic’s time, tool rental, and parts; how much did they spend? $450. That’s a savings of over $1,000. Yes, $1,000. How much was their time worth? At 2.5 hours in the shop, they wound up paying themselves a whopping $420/hr!
So, the next time you have a repair or maintenance to do on your vehicle and aren’t sure if it’s worth the time to DIY or hire someone else, ask yourself, how much is your time worth?