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How will I keep my 116 on the road?

Started by Rolo, 15 June 2021, 04:41 PM

Rolo

A friend runs a BMW shop and asked me what I'll do with my 116 when my mechanic retires, which will be soon.  Many times when I get parts at the dealership, the parts guy has to run back to the shop and talk to the one mechanic who has any experience with 116's.  What will we do for service when all the 116-experienced techs are gone?  I do about 50% of my own work, but my mechanic knows stuff that isn't in the factory manuals or on Ken's website.  My shop is the only one that works on 6.3 and 600s in this area.

UTn_boy

This is one of the many reasons why values will plummet in the future.  There will literally be only a handful of people that can work on a W116 or W108/W109.  If there is no one around to work on them then why would people buy or want them? 

Thank goodness places like this forum exist for those that are currently having the aforementioned issues.  Yes, it's already started in many places of the world.....my area included.  I'm overwhelmed with requests for work, and I have to turn it down simply because I know that people can't wait years for work to be done. 

One thing I can't understand though.....when people find someone that can and will work on their W116 or equivalent, they're often elated, thankful, and relieved.  Yet, when it comes to paying for anything they choose to forego the repair because "that's too much.  I can have the same job done on my Ford for half that amount."  Having champagne taste on a beer budget just doesn't work here.  I don't control parts price, nor does any other shop owner.  As far a labor goes, you are paying that person for their knowledge......a knowledge that few people possess in 2021.  Having that type of knowledge doesn't make anyone special or better than anyone else, but at the same time, it's becoming a lost art.  Far too many car owners feel that people like myself (shops in general) should be paid minimum wage or less because we're "mechanics", and mechanics are dirty, greasy people that don't deserve anything past a slave wage.  It's extremely disconcerting.  That's not to say that all owners are like that, but a large majority are.  What are we to do?!
1966 250se coupe`,black/dark green leather
1970 600 midnight blue/parchment leather
1971 300sel 6.3,papyrus white/dark red leather
1975 450se, pine green metallic/green leather
1973 300sel 4.5,silver blue metallic/blue leather
1979 450sel 516 red/bamboo

Randys01

The going rate here for a small Merc specialist .. .and we have 3?....is up to $150 per hour but ave about $120 across the board.
Cheapest w/shop on euro stuff is $100 per hour.
I refuse to even find out what the MB Dealership slugs.

Specialist mechanics here are treated with  respect and admiration. Merc//Ferrari/Porsche.  This does not extend to the poor spanner jockey stuck away in some Ford Dealership of course.


nathan

a good question Rolo, and one im faced with in the most remote city in the world.  our old German who worked on the cars new is still raging away at 80 but definitely slowing.  I am no mechanic, I do get help from some clever people like TJ and (former member) Big Richard.  we will have to become far more clever I fear.  at least you are in the US where there's more options than down under!

values on our cars won't plummet, rubbish ones might, but good ones will continue to rise. I think particularly after electrics start dominating.

good info being saved is important, forums like this can help when the info is based on knowledge not thoughts.
1979 116 6.9 #6436
2018 213 e63
2011 212 e63
2011 463 g55
2007 211 e500 wagen
1995 124 e320 cabriolet
1983 460 300gd
1981 123 280te

rumb

Modern cars are built for a 10 year life span. When they reach that age they become prohibitively expensive to repair. Any do it yourself-er has no chance of fixing any of the 20-40 computers in a car and the machines that are used to diagnose will disappear soon enough.

A good old pre 1991 car will be repairable for many decades to come at least. Anyway until the oil haters tax them out of existence.
'68 250S
'77 6.9 Euro
'91 300SE,
'98 SL500
'14 CLS550,
'16 AMG GTS

floyd111

I wouldn't single out these hourly workshop fees as something exceptional. Not news but the incessant greed is nearly wall to wall in the caucasian territories on a myriad of levels. In that way, one could claim that spending 150usd an hour on a decent W116 machanic is better value for money than a random Toyota repair.
What they share is that they are clearly not in Asia or Africa and both of them want to be rich, preferably by dinner time tonight.
Typically, the insane exceptions to that rule are the foreign dealrships here. Mercedes just overcharges as ususal, but f.e.Volvo dealerships charge prices you literally would not think possible. 500 euro for a missing screw in the glove compartment. 8000 euros for  fixing whatever caused one of the countless dash lights to light up. 8000 euros for an ECU, 8000 Euros for a gearbox fix without warranty, in this case.  I paid NONE of that, but only because I decided to park the V70 till kingdom come. They want 8000 euros for fixing the head gasket.. They really seem to like that number a lot! I guess it's to do with the lucky number 8. "Price? 8880 Euros, please. You must feel sooo lucky now sir!"
Every other car / scooter mechanic around the countey is is like" I am gonna do this forever and thus I will make some safe money forever. Steady, never rocking the boat."
It's quite the difference. As long as you stay away from European dealerships, you could basically walk into any of the thousands of garages, tell them to fix things and just await the bill without asking a quote first. It's gonna be correct, and as cheap as anywhere else, give ot take a few pennies. Whether the work will be good? That is a global issue.

Scotty

This is a problem for many aspects of life in this modern world. Here where  I live we're fortunate to have a good Porsche, Mercedes, Rolls/ Bentley (factory trained), SAAB, Peugeot and other specialists still employing younger mechanics who hopefully will pick up some skills along the way before the older ones retire.  England seems to be very good at fostering younger talent but here in Australia we have the ongoing added problem of a massive country and a small population.  I very much take the point about Perth. So we might have the talent to fix things but it's too far away to access in reality. With respect to hourly rate, I'm happy to pay the asking price for quality, specialist, work.  There has to be an experience dividend and its baked in to hourly rate. For general service work I do usually expect a different rate, especially on our lesser cars/bikes, but I'm usually happy to pay the top talent to do the work because they'll often see and check things along the way that an apprentice may miss. Again, the experience dividend.

Larry O'Toole , rodding magazine/book publisher (and top bloke) has started a scheme in Victoria  having leased an old school and is developing skills in younger folk pertinent to the rodding industry. Bloody good idea and I know if Larry's involved it will do well.

Youtube videos help me with a basic understanding of the issues and possible fix, so even if I can't do it myself at least I can explain to a mechanic the basic concept of the issue if it's model specific.  Also, if I know the fix is 2 hours and I'm charged 8, there needs to be a conversation. ......

It's an ongoing problem. There are lot of cars and bikes I'd love to buy but accessing specialists is top of the list for reasons not to. There was a Moskvich for sale in Brisbane recently but I passed after thinking "who the hell can I get to fix it?". I was only after it on ironic grounds and it probably would've ended up garden art anyway. I have a deep,  ongoing and unresolved hankering for a Bristol too but I won't buy one for lack of a specialist even in the state.

I suppose if there is a silver lining it's that Mercedes still manufacture and hold parts for most models through their dealer network, even if the price is high.

Passion always comes at a cost.

Scotty

Mattr

Quote from: Randys01 on 01 July 2021, 02:53 AM
The going rate here for a small Merc specialist .. .and we have 3?....is up to $150 per hour but ave about $120 across the board.
Cheapest w/shop on euro stuff is $100 per hour.
I refuse to even find out what the MB Dealership slugs.

Specialist mechanics here are treated with  respect and admiration. Merc//Ferrari/Porsche.  This does not extend to the poor spanner jockey stuck away in some Ford Dealership of course.

That's all? There's a shop near me that has (or had) a MB-certified 6.9 tech, and their bill rate for him was $295/hr, and that was a couple years ago.

As for how you'll keep your car on the road? Start learning it more. Ask the tech if he'll go through things with you. Make friends with people who have lifts (I have one, but am likely too far north to be worth the hassle). These cars seem to stay in decent condition if treated well. Take care of it, and it'll take care of you.
1976 450SE 6.9 FrankenBenz (#2288?)
1977 450SEL 6.9 #2333

floyd111

The "find-a-mechanic thing might seem a deal-killer, but you'd be surprised how many people drive low-end classics in that very catagory. Finding the right help, the right parts, it's a repetitive hurdle that often needs patience , persistance and luck. If you have those issues in your environment, simply keep a second trustworthy vehicle that you can use while again waiting for your classic to be fixed.
Where are all those other Bristol and Moskvitch owners going to find people that specialize in those cars? I'd think 4 out of 5 are going to have to wing it. The tech in such cars is nothing impressive to a backstreet mechanic, as long as you yourself can source the irreperable parts, and maybe offer a manual or 2.

Reminds me how I once dump-sold a 1969 Opel Kapitan-B with but 3000 miles on the clock and no rust. 2 different people told me I'd better sell before the clutch or head gasket would go, for there'd be no mechanics or parts (in Holland, next to Germany!)
I believed them and I did sell it, stupid me, and it left a scar I can still feel today, 25 years on.

UTn_boy

Quote from: nathan on 01 July 2021, 05:54 AM

"Values on our cars won't plummet, rubbish ones might, but good ones will continue to rise. I think particularly after electrics start dominating."

"Good info being saved is important, forums like this can help when the info is based on knowledge not thoughts."

[/quote

One must understand that what happens in Australia doesn't mean the rest of the world will follow suit.  Australia already pays double and triple more for certain cars, such as W116, than the rest of the world does, and that's likely why values won't plummet for Australia....at least for a while. In the U.S. it's already happening.  Values have either been stagnant for a long time, or they're falling at an exponential rate on certain models, such as W116.  There are few people who can work on them, and far too many people who own a W116 here in the U.S. refuse to spend money on them regardless of how much it costs. 

It's unfortunate that my input is viewed as insignificant.  My commentary is not based on "thought" or "opinion".  My commentary is based upon irrefutable facts and knowledge.  If I don't know something I will not comment, or I'll research it before I comment.  To assume that anyone on this forum isn't knowledgeable is extremely boorish and quite conceited. 
1966 250se coupe`,black/dark green leather
1970 600 midnight blue/parchment leather
1971 300sel 6.3,papyrus white/dark red leather
1975 450se, pine green metallic/green leather
1973 300sel 4.5,silver blue metallic/blue leather
1979 450sel 516 red/bamboo