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Vehicle Maintenance Co-op


Informal survey time....if there was a place you could go have access to a dry heated auto shop, tools, a nearby auto parts store..place to properly dispose of you spent oil, possibly a lift......would you use it? How much an hour would you think is a reasonable price to pay for access to something like this...would you winter store a motorcycle or scooter there? Fair price for that? Do you know how to do engine work but need a place to do it? Would you share your time with others? Please be so kind to give me some feedback on the efficacy of a Vehicle Maintenance Co-Op.


Sweet. I was mulling this idea around a couple years ago. Instead of the lift, you could go with the "under-the-car-pit" method which you would walk down into. I would say you have a minimum number of people around, depending on the job, sharing advice and labor just for safety's sake. Tool's which are either donated, bought collectively, or bought with profits would need maintenance. I guess the issue of ownership might come up at some point. If you could figure out the insurance aspect, you'd have a better idea.
Good luck, and keep me posted.

um, hell yeah...

this is actually the best idea for auto repair since the all-grrl greasemonkey garage concept...(which I've yet to see out here, by the by...HINT HINT)...

I prefer to do my own maintenance on the Volvo, but I lack specific acessories to accomplish a lot of things that the ol girl needs.

as for hourly...fair, but reasonable enough to cover your overhead. 10 bucks an hour is fair, but since a lot of the basics (oil change, tune-up, et al) generally take less than 2 hours, the best thing is to start at a flat rate of 25 bucks for 0-2 hours then work from there...

i'd gladly shell out 25 bucks to use tools and equipment that i don't have access to at home.

Good idea - I'd use it. I think finding ways to keep fees as low as possible would be important attract members/users. If small "profits" are possible, perhaps new and useful tools and equipment could be purchased.

Contolling access and keeping track of time and tools/equipment might be a challenge - you'd probably want have a good inventory and accounting system.

Have you done in searches for similar projects?

Uh, and all those letters and words I left out. I'm special...

Great idea.

You'll run into some regulatory issues, I'd think, but they're not insurmountable. The biggest hurdles you'd face would be the MPCA, as used coolant is rather nasty stuff. The waste oil issue can be bypassed by using a waste oil heater.

Insurance would be another issue, but that's not my area of expertise. Having someone there to watch the place who had a bit of mechanical experience would be a plus as well, as if someone ran into a problem, he could help out. The insurance companies would probably like that as well.

Would I go to a place like that? Sure.

Keep in mind, unless you find used equipment, a lot of it won't be cheap. A decent hoist will run about $5k installed. If you can find used ones, so much the better. If the facility you have in mind has the equipment already, so much the better.

I think the insurance thing can be done with some creative waivering. In my intiial searches I've found out a couple of things.

1. Cant seem to find anyone on the Interwebz who is doing the same thing.

2. There are several garages un-occupied and leaseable around town.

3. THere are others who might split space with a co-op who are doing other alt. type vehical things.

4. Someone there to "run" it would be a great thing

A group pulled this off in Boulder. That was a while ago, and I didn't participate, because, well, because I didn't have a vehicle. So, I don't know how it ended up. Not much help. Sorry.

I do believe there was a shop in Duluth who tried this (on 4th Street I believe) but it wasn't successful but I don't know why. I think it is a fabulous idea. You would probably have to figure into your business plan that business would take a down turn every summer as cars don't break down as much in summer and it is easier to work on your car in your own garage in the summer. Also you would want to consider do you want to provide tools or specialty tools that most home, do it yourself mechanics don't have. Would you provide air and air tools? Of course if you were providing tools you would have to charge a premium rate as people are NOT going to take care with them and they will need repair or replacement. Then in the discussion lift or pit...I definately say lift (if you can get it by the insurance guy). People 50+ would probably prefer a lift and we all know Duluth has a large grey population.

Sounds like a neat idea. Might be nice to have some classes/workshop offered for novices to build skills.

Ditto the classes/workshops for novices (such as me). Also, I have a great deal of experience having all sorts of fun but not making any money to speak of in business. I know that's not exactly a co-op model, but its close. I'd be happy to advise you on how to do the same if you want.

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