View Full Version : Tool policies at Mechanics'/Repair shops


Vinko
07-20-2008, 02:40 AM
When I first started reading this forum (and others), I was surprised by a few things. First, that mechanics spent so much of their own money on tools. Second, that they were required to have their own tools. Third, that some shops didn't appear to supply specialty tools to the mechanics.

Are mechanics considered independent contractors? Paid by the hour, by the job? Do mechanics get a tool allowance? How is that all sorted out?

I guess it seems natural that often a mechanic wants to use his own tools.

In our shop, we have a machine shop area with a lot of tools, both power and hand. We've got large industrial saws that occasionally require hand tools for repair or readjustment. We use tools for various things around the building. For assembling or disassembling racking and storage systems. For assembly of product or certain phases of production in between, before or after we send something out to a contractor that we're not equiped to do (like black oxiding, or certain grinding, metal treatment, chroming, etc).

We supply all the tools.

One of the things that I've been trying to do, is keeping better track of our tools. Making sure that we know if a tool needs to be serviced. Accounting for tools (it was so bad that I'd find snap on/proto ratchets in puddles of grease in the shop, that we thought we'd lost, etc). We don't have a problem with theft of tools, but we do have a problem with misplacing of tools, or sometimes idiots who use a snap on screw driver as a "scraper" or something else if we're doing something with urethane, etc.

I had thought of having a central place for all tools, but then thought that certain stations with tools (where everything would be accounted for at the end of a shift) were better, because it's a large building, and sometimes you have to walk for ever to find a damn tools, which some guy picked up and then left somewhere else. Hell, even our filament tape dispensers are like $75, and I can never find one when I need it.

I guess the wisdom of each mechanic or worker having his own tools is not only that he may prefer to use his own tools, but that a business doesn't have to worry about loss/misuse/neglect of tools.

Danglerb
07-20-2008, 03:27 AM
In the shops I visit in Socal the mechanic is treated almost like a subcontractor. Each job has so many shop hours from the book or software and the mechanic gets paid some fixed percentage of the hourly rate charged to the customer. Call backs or complications and it goes back to the same mechanic, usually without further pay.

Mechanics are expected to have all the general tools, and the shop supplies the big stuff like drill press or brake rotor lathe. Availability and sharing of tools varies from shop to shop, but an end of day strict tool inventory is common so tools don't get left in customer cars etc.

Having a basic set of tools is required in most shops, and a complete set is seen as a sign of professionalism.

Diesel-Mech
07-20-2008, 03:29 AM
Im a diesel technician for a peterbilt dealer, In my case I am expected to pay for and provide my own basic hand and power tools. Most specialty tools and larger shop equipment (1in drive impacts and sockets, 3/4in drive torque wrenches, etc are provided by my employer) I am paid straight hourly instead of the flat rate system used by many automotive shops. I do not receive a tool allowance but I am reimbursed for air tool rebuilds and torque wrench calibrations. This is my situation and I know it can vary but most shops more or less fall in line with this from my experience.

krusty the clown
07-20-2008, 05:26 AM
when i started as a mechanic we were required to provide hand tools only, wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers, etc. due to the flatrate system we bought specialty tools and air tools to make out jobs faster since the more work we got done the more we made.

most shops only provide large equipment like parts washers, brake lathes, tranny jacks. what is provided varies from shop to shop.

there is no tool allowance's at anywhere i have worked and pay system also varies.......i have worked flat rate, percentage and hourly.

SpiderGearsMan
07-20-2008, 08:18 AM
flat rate would be cool if you had control of the dispatching of jobs and rate . I always price out my work on customer pay jobs , but the writer does whatever he wants
the factory sets the time in stone . and the pay has been cut as to where doing warranty is working for free
the tool policy - you never get any allowance for anything , it is the 'fat paycheck ' you get every week that allows you to buy your own tools . I bought the bulk of mine when I was young and living at pops house for 300 bucks a month [greatest cook in the world - mom ] most months I would be spending around 500- 700 on three tool trucks , but being 24 years old and making 65 grand a year [reagan years ] I could also go racing every weekend , party my ass off and do side work all night . the one advantage to mechanic-ing is side jobs . I used to do ten extra cars for cash most weeks , that is why I have extra tool boxes , welder , big compressor etc . now I am married , raising kids , living in a crappy apartment with no area , in or out to do side jobs , don't have the time . one thing I planned ahead on was buying the tools when I could

caper
07-20-2008, 10:30 AM
I work for the local electrical utility on the line trucks and aerial devices.We have to supply our own hand tools and air tools.There is no tool allowance to help with new purchases but in our contract the company is responsible to replace any tools we break on the job.Often times when a tool breaks the boss replaces it with Snap on no matter what brand it was because its easier for him to get it from the truck than chase around looking for the same brand.Our contract says tools must be replaced with equal or better quality.Of alll the shops i've worked in the only ones with tool allowances were union shops.Oh,this week I had my far 720 air ratchet replaced with a far 7200,and a gray screwdriver replaced with a new snapon orange handle one,and while its not in the contract if the boss likes you he will sometimes replace missing tools like the snapon 10mm socket i misplaced last week.:thumbup:

CAT_serviceman927
07-20-2008, 10:43 AM
I work in a heavy equipment shop with a similar policy to how Diesel-mech described his. We supply the basics, they supply 1" tools, specialty tools, taps and dies over 1/2", 3/4" and bigger torque wrenches, etc. We are union and paid hourly. No tool allowance, but the company will give full-time mechanics a tool loan for up to $2000, interest free. They also replace tools we break on the job. We are required to turn in a tool inventory to our supervisor. So long as it is on the list, they will replace it or have it repaired.

Deafautotech
07-20-2008, 11:03 AM
My Dealership are do nothing about tools.. my work just pay the techs what they turn in the labor times... my work only order the special tools what it need to do (Miller tools for Chrysler or ford's Rotunda)... if anyone break the tool, it is techs' problem not dealership's problems... even worse is my dealership's service manager said if someone stole the tool and no one say about the tool were stole until someone proof that the tech did stole then the tech who stole are fired. my transmission tech own 2,000 dollars borescope that borescope can look in engine or transmission without tear down anything were in other tech's toolbox and that tech who put my friend's borescope in the toolbox were missing for all week so service manager was search for tech and found borescope in toolbox then service manager called the tech that he are fired.

i have my own tools and when i dont have the tool for right job then i can buy one myself unless it need special tool like miller tool which i can borrow from other dealership..

epmills
07-20-2008, 11:41 AM
I for for a Mercedes-Benz dealer. Specialty tools are all provided, as well as the flush and major diagnostic tools. The rest is up to us, hand and power tools, multimeters, ect. We get a yearly tool allowance of $250, which just went down-we used to get 1k.

SpiderGearsMan
07-20-2008, 12:11 PM
flush machines are best at flushing walletts

speed bump
07-20-2008, 12:33 PM
The machine shop here in town supplies the machinists with something like $100-200 worth of tools allowance per month but that shop is pretty heavily unionized and makes a pile of money.

Moose-LandTran
07-20-2008, 01:55 PM
The three places i've worked, you had to proide everything yourself. The tyre shop i used to run, the boss let us use his (small selection of) tools so long as we looked after them. Last shop, i had pretty much everything i needed, but my manager let me use his tools too because he knew i'd look after them.

The shop i'm at now, nothing is provided, except two jacks and some axle stands. No tools, that's up to you to supply.

Where my friends work, techs can "rent" a full toolbox and tool set, but it takes a big chunk of your pay, and if you break it, you pay for it regardless of warranty. That's the price of not having your own tools.

eschoendorff
07-20-2008, 03:11 PM
The three places i've worked, you had to proide everything yourself. The tyre shop i used to run, the boss let us use his (small selection of) tools so long as we looked after them. Last shop, i had pretty much everything i needed, but my manager let me use his tools too because he knew i'd look after them.

The shop i'm at now, nothing is provided, except two jacks and some axle stands. No tools, that's up to you to supply.

Where my friends work, techs can "rent" a full toolbox and tool set, but it takes a big chunk of your pay, and if you break it, you pay for it regardless of warranty. That's the price of not having your own tools.

:shocking: That somehow just seems a little suspicious.... pretty sure I'd want my own tools or even make payments on my own tools rather than renting....:wtf:

Merkava_4
07-20-2008, 03:32 PM
There is no tool allowance to help with new purchases but in our contract the company is responsible to replace any tools we break on the job.Often times when a tool breaks the boss replaces it with Snap on no matter what brand it was because its easier for him to get it from the truck than chase around looking for the same brand.

I had my far 720 air ratchet replaced with a far 7200,and a gray screwdriver replaced with a new snapon orange handle one,and while its not in the contract if the boss likes you he will sometimes replace missing tools like the snapon 10mm socket i misplaced last week.:thumbup:

I like that company policy!!! :)

That would be a sweet place to work at. :)

krusty the clown
07-20-2008, 07:08 PM
flush machines are best at flushing walletts

now that we agree on.........i'd say only about 25% of the flushes sold are actually needed.

Vinko
07-20-2008, 07:33 PM
but it takes a big chunk of your pay, and if you break it, you pay for it regardless of warranty. That's the price of not having your own tools.


Could be wrong, but I thought, under Calif. labor law at least, it's illegal for an employer to doc pay for broken tools.

SpiderGearsMan
07-20-2008, 07:39 PM
labor laws don't apply to most cali residents - illegal aliens

DarrenF
07-20-2008, 07:41 PM
I worked a deal with my current boss. I get $75 a week cash, which covers my fuel, and $100 per month tool allowance.

I supply all my own hand and air tools, he supplies all heavy tools/equipment and diagnostic tools. If i want a tool, i can charge it on any of his accounts and just add the invoice to my bill in our own computer, which i pay off as i can. I also have an account with our local Snap On dude....

Detroit Diesel Man
07-21-2008, 04:58 AM
The Dealership I work at currently doesnt have any type of "Tool Allowance" for us mechanics..altho we get paid an hourly wage plus comm. We are currently working out a deal for tool allowance program..I guess for me being a mechanic part of the job is buying tools..if a tool makes your work easier or faster up goes your commision and down goes the time on the job..I've always felt its just part of the job..same with Carpentry and /or plumbers..most of them have their own tools..altho their is a limit..the shop I work in has 1" drive sockets and all the specialty tools..personally I own a set of 3/4" drive and a 3/4 drive Impact..saves me time by not having to go hunting for a socket or an impact gun...dealerships are required to have certain tools..we just spent $12,000 on specialty tools for the new DD15 Detroit Engine. Just my 2 cents.


JC

Stuey
07-21-2008, 07:57 AM
Gosh, these policies seem kind of harsh, but I guess they evolved from decades of experience. If people in other industries had to pay for their own equipment, employment rates would plummet; accountants would have to pay for their own computers, etc.

64merc
07-21-2008, 10:06 AM
Gosh, these policies seem kind of harsh, but I guess they evolved from decades of experience. If people in other industries had to pay for their own equipment, employment rates would plummet; accountants would have to pay for their own computers, etc.

You know, I had never thought of it like this. You're right though, it would not be considered acceptable for an employee with a desk job to have to buy their computer, or even pens and paper clips (self-employed being the exception). Boy, I'm glad that mentality hasn't spread to other industries.

With that said, it's probably a good idea for a mechanic to have their own tools. Can you imagine working at a shop with only minimal tools and it took you 3 times as long to do your job?

Kevin54
07-21-2008, 12:00 PM
With that said, it's probably a good idea for a mechanic to have their own tools. Can you imagine working at a shop with only minimal tools and it took you 3 times as long to do your job?<!-- / message -->

I'm not a mechanic, but am in tool & Die. From what I see with a company that sullpies tools...#1- the tools are not taken care of and #2- with company owned tools, a lot of tools come up missing

speed bump
07-21-2008, 12:16 PM
Gosh, these policies seem kind of harsh, but I guess they evolved from decades of experience. If people in other industries had to pay for their own equipment, employment rates would plummet; accountants would have to pay for their own computers, etc.

They may seem harsh but it helps out quite a bit in a couple of ways. One if your work does buy tools and they get abused or lost guess what kind of tools your work will buy for you in the future? The cheapest ones they can that will get the job done. Two what happens if you don't happen to like the tools that are provided by your company or want special tools that they don't provide? Three it cuts down on overhead becuase you don't need a tool crib and someone to daily inspect every toolbox in a place that might have 50 mechanics.

Also in almost every industrial setting I have been in the employees have been required to provide at least their own hand tools if not some of the more specialized stuff as well.

trainer
07-21-2008, 01:37 PM
You know, I had never thought of it like this. You're right though, it would not be considered acceptable for an employee with a desk job to have to buy their computer, or even pens and paper clips (self-employed being the exception). Boy, I'm glad that mentality hasn't spread to other industries.



It's not uncommon for meat cutters and chefs to supply thier own knives on the job. Certainly not the same Cash outlay as a set of mechanics tools, but there are the same kinds of comparisons in price and quality in cutlery and tools.

Stuey
07-21-2008, 01:40 PM
You know, I kind of understand the mentality behind it all - but I can't see it translating to other fields (although in some cases it should).

dxdexter
07-21-2008, 02:03 PM
Although its been 20 years, when I worked as a heavy equipment mechanic (large fabrication/manufacturing shop) we were paid by the hour and supplied our own hand tools, but the company would by any special tools we needed to repair the equipment and they supplied all the large shop tools : jacks, drill press, welder, oxy/acet, parts washer, etc.

Vinko
07-21-2008, 03:04 PM
I'm not a mechanic, but am in tool & Die. From what I see with a company that sullpies tools...#1- the tools are not taken care of and #2- with company owned tools, a lot of tools come up missing

you got that right.

a390st
07-21-2008, 05:08 PM
It's not uncommon for meat cutters and chefs to supply thier own knives on the job. Certainly not the same Cash outlay as a set of mechanics tools, but there are the same kinds of comparisons in price and quality in cutlery and tools.

You may want to look at what professional chef's knives cost these days. It is almost the same situation as mechanic's tools. You can get trash that drives you crazy anytime you use it, or you can spend the money on knives that take an edge; hold an edge; balance properly; don't hurt your hands, wrists, and arms at the end of the day; and meet whatever other specific criteria they may have. With the exchange rate what it is now, it is worse for chefs, because most of the best knives are not made in the USA. There are very few good knives made in this country, and those that are are custom and specialty. Try spending $200 +/- per knife and needing several knives for your work. Just like tools.......

Fedwrench
07-21-2008, 05:22 PM
It depends on where you work. When I worked at the Olds dealer, techs provided their own individual tools and the dealer provided things like lifts, parts washers, brake lathes, Factory special tools and scan tools. There was no tool allowance.
When I worked for the City, the techs again provided their own individual tools and the city provided scan tools, installed equipment (lifts, brake lathes, etc.) and some specialty tools. Additionally, each tech received an annual tool allowance of $500 (before taxes).
Where I work now, the employer provides everything. I still use a service cart of my own tools as I'm used to working with certain tools that I like and it enhances my productivity.
The amount of installed equipment and specialty tools provided by a shop varies greatly with the size of the shop and how much money the shop can spend. Alot of smaller independent shops can barely afford to keep the doors open let alone buy factory scan tools.

a390st
07-21-2008, 05:33 PM
I have had it several ways. One place provided nothing except specialty tools. One provided tools at the shop but nothing mobile. The last had every basic tool known to man, but no specialty tools at all. None paid a penny towards your own tools.

vssjim
07-21-2008, 08:24 PM
I have been a mechanic in different industries and what I have delt with first hand is if it doesn't directly make the shop money for them it is usually a hard sell that takes a long time to get a boss to buy it period. Brake lathes Flywheel grinders etc. yes but in a minuele update a Mitchell or online tech support line very slow to happen if a new scan tool comes out or an update I have found it at most places you are better off to buy it your self and the worst part is once you get your new tool the boss will want to use it !!
Most shop owners just want to spend shop supply money on his own play toys and spend money on shop stuff when completely unavoidable plus some.

SpiderGearsMan
07-21-2008, 08:51 PM
You may want to look at what professional chef's knives cost these days. It is almost the same situation as mechanic's tools. You can get trash that drives you crazy anytime you use it, or you can spend the money on knives that take an edge; hold an edge; balance properly; don't hurt your hands, wrists, and arms at the end of the day; and meet whatever other specific criteria they may have. With the exchange rate what it is now, it is worse for chefs, because most of the best knives are not made in the USA. There are very few good knives made in this country, and those that are are custom and specialty. Try spending $200 +/- per knife and needing several knives for your work. Just like tools.......

you are not spending over 6 figures on knives , no way

demonspeed
07-21-2008, 09:12 PM
my shop allows new techs $1000 to buy tools. If you stay 2 years you get to keep the tools, if not you just give them back. however $1000 doesn't go far when you're a professional tech. luckily i didn't have to use this and paid for my tools cash and got a huge discount because i was in a trade school at the time (i basically got half off of anything from snap-on). I bought a 40" upper and lower box and enough tools to fill it, all from snap-on. All the expensive machines, jacks, lifts, and scanners are provided by the dealership though and everybody usually shares them. I get paid on flat-rate pay (paid by the job basically) with a guarantee pay in case times are slow and we don't have much work. (like now for instance). That way i never have to worry about going home with a really bad paycheck. having nice tools and being able to write them off as a "business expense" is pretty sweet but now is not a great time to be a technician with the economy the way it is. but i do enjoy going to work every day and i guess thats whats important

a390st
07-21-2008, 09:18 PM
you are not spending over 6 figures on knives , no way

I'm not spending more than low four figures on knives, but I'm not doing as much specialty work as lots of folks. I know many folks that have gotten into specialties like Japanese, for example, that will easily have five figures in knives at any given time. You can do basic work and have cheap tools, or you can do something special and make the big bucks. You don't have to have expensive knives, but like tools, you have to have the right ones to do certain jobs.

Maybe you hadn't thought of it, but knives aren't like wrenches. Knives need constant sharpening, and constant sharpening makes knives disappear. Knives break and chip, too. You buy a good wrench and it has a warranty that can keep it useful for a decade or more. You have a wider selection of tools, too, which means less use for each tool every day. In fact, some specialty tools may last your career. An everyday specialty chef may go through most of their knives every couple of years. Do it for 20-30 years and you will be in shock at your career knife bill.

If you hadn't figured it out, I'm not talking about someone who cooks at your local chain restaurant. They have their tools provided, and boy are they cheap.

stricht8
07-21-2008, 09:22 PM
Sounds like an instrument count in an OR so instruments don't get left in the patients abdomen.

but an end of day strict tool inventory is common so tools don't get left in customer cars etc.
.

daw53
07-21-2008, 11:51 PM
I used to manage a crew of about 20 maintenance technicians in an industrial setting (non-union). It was expected that the techs provided their own hand tools and we gave a $200 per year tool allowance. My rules were simple - bring in the receipts and it needed to be something that really was going to get used in the plant (no circular saws, etc..), Some of the senior (10-15 years) techs had a pretty good collection of course and would buy more specialty items. Of course, I had a diverse group - one fellow bought pretty much all S-K and would give you 20 questions before letting you use a screw driver and it had better not be for anything but driving screws. Another tech pretty much bought a set of Craftsman screwdrivers every year.

We had power tools and specialty tools in the shop, but we also provided them with some other basics as a drill set, electrical meters, gloves, etc... I bought the el-cheapo wrench and screwdriver sets for the shop and general use. As another poster said, if they weren't theirs, they didn't care much. So I just looked at them as throw aways.

We had a pretty good plant and for the most part not a lot of loss. Techs would borrow each others tools sometimes, but would do a good job of returning them. As maintenance manager, I also got any 'found' tools. We produced food products, so foreign material was taken seriously.

Moose-LandTran
07-22-2008, 06:06 PM
having nice tools and being able to write them off as a "business expense" is pretty sweet but now is not a great time to be a technician with the economy the way it is. but i do enjoy going to work every day and i guess thats whats important

It certainly is.

Years ago, i was talking to the service manager at the local Audi dealership. He said to me "The hardest thing in life is getting up everyday to do a job you don't enjoy." And he was right.

My life changed for the better after he said that to me. I wish i could go back and shake his hand, those few words changed my life completely. I was going to go into architecture or product design. Now i'm a full-time tech and love it!

nissan_crawler
07-23-2008, 04:02 AM
I'm not a mechanic, but am in tool & Die. From what I see with a company that sullpies tools...#1- the tools are not taken care of and #2- with company owned tools, a lot of tools come up missing

Yep.

They wanted to go to community toolboxes at work to decrease the number of toolboxes (about 500 mechanics, some of which have multiple boxes). I think about half the work force threatened to quit if it happened. I don't want to work with tools that some shmo has beat the hell out of or broken and put it back. I want MY tools.

We get no tool allowance, and if it breaks, it's on us. They do provide the specialty tools. We have to have our badge scanned to check them out, so if it goes missing, it's your ass.

eschoendorff
07-23-2008, 11:49 AM
Yep.

They wanted to go to community toolboxes at work to decrease the number of toolboxes (about 500 mechanics, some of which have multiple boxes). I think about half the work force threatened to quit if it happened. I don't want to work with tools that some shmo has beat the hell out of or broken and put it back. I want MY tools.

We get no tool allowance, and if it breaks, it's on us. They do provide the specialty tools. We have to have our badge scanned to check them out, so if it goes missing, it's your ass.

I can totally understand. It would be like me having to play a gig with a loaned instrument. Not gonna happen!

tatra
07-23-2008, 01:33 PM
my employer supplies all tools and if given crap tools you can only do as good as you get to work with..........some snap on from years ago still kicking around tho............mostly westward now which are cheap and thats all ican say about them without using profanity.............kinda like having my own tools at home for me only..............as for loaners, got a special set of castoffs for inexperienced, seasoned journeymen have full accesss to my box as long as it is understood any damage or breakge is to be taken care by them immediatly..........so far no probs............

SpiderGearsMan
07-23-2008, 09:53 PM
not owning property means no writeoffs from tool man