Do You Tip Your Mechanic?

Valet - Key Exchange, Tip

We live in an odd culture where tipping is an expected perk of certain occupations. Everyone knows that you’re supposed to tip restaurant servers, hairstylists, taxi drivers, and hotel bell hops. But what about auto mechanics? Do you tip your mechanic?

While there are no hard and fast rules about tipping mechanics, there are a few things you should take into consideration before you tip your mechanic .

  • A tip today could get you preferential treatment down the line. Think about it. If you frequent the same auto repair shop and you make it a point to let everyone there know that you tip for a job well done, you might find yourself bumped to the front of the line the next time you need a quick oil change. Naturally, this isn’t anything you should expect. But it is something to mull over.
  • If you’re going to tip, make sure you tip appropriately. If leaving behind a quarter on a $20 lunch bill is considered an offense to restaurant servers, then imagine the effect that reaching into your pocket and pulling out a single dollar bill can have on a professional auto mechanic. To you, that dollar may be a lot – but to the recipient, it could come off like a slap in the face. In other words, if you’re not going to give a worthy tip, don’t give one at all. A $5 tip is considered a kind token; a $10 tip is seen as even better; $20 will probably get you a wide smile and a “Thank you!” but if you’ve just been bailed out of trouble by a mechanic who stayed past quitting time to get you back on the road, it’s not out of the realm of acceptability to raise the ante to the neighborhood of $50.
  • Don’t assume the technician working on your car is getting a sizable chunk of the money you’re paying for labor. Labor costs go to the auto repair shop, which pays its technicians an hourly rate, or sometimes flat rate. Flat rates are more often than not paid to employees of chain auto repair shops. Either way, if you’re being billed $100 an hour for repair, the likelihood is slim that the tech working on your car is seeing much of that money. Take this into consideration when deciding if you want to leave a tip.
  • Before you tip, ask if it’s okay first. In some instances, auto mechanics may not be allowed to take customer tips – and putting them in a position to have to refuse your money might just turn out awkward for all parties involved. If you’re not sure whether an auto mechanic is allowed to take tips, the best way to find out is to ask them directly. You can also approach the management of an auto shop and ask that individual.
  • Another approach to leave a tip without actually saying the word “tip” is ask the mechanic if you can buy them a lunch, “Lunch is on me today”.

Never feel as if you’re obliged to tip your mechanic, especially if you feel the work took an inordinate amount of time to complete or if you’ve just been hit with a bill far greater than you expected to pay. But when someone comes through and delivers above average service, tipping is perfectly acceptable.