Aug 20, 2021 - Economy & Business

At-home car repair is the latest on-demand service

Image of a Repair Smith mechanic working under a car in a customer's driveway
RepairSmith mechanics will service your vehicle at home. Photo: RepairSmith

It's reaching the point where you can order almost any product or service online and have it delivered — including car repair.

Why it matters: Nobody wants to sit around a repair shop waiting for their car to be fixed — even more so since the pandemic, as consumers have avoided stores, restaurants and other businesses.

Driving the news: RepairSmith, a startup that lets you book an appointment online and then sends a mechanic to your home, is expanding after raising $42 million in new funding this week.

  • The Los Angeles-based company, which launched in 2019 out of a Mercedes-Benz incubator program, is now in seven states and plans to expand to every major metropolitan area by the end of 2022. It serves all makes and models.

How it works: Customers enter a few details about their vehicle and can then get a price quote or schedule an appointment online.

  • For routine maintenance like an oil change or a brake job, the mechanic will show up at the appointed hour in a RepairSmith van with the necessary parts.
  • If a customer is not sure what's wrong, they can schedule a one-hour diagnostic visit. The mechanic will offer a quote and schedule a follow-up visit. If a job's too big, they'll tow the car to a repair shop.
  • Mechanics are employed by RepairSmith, not independent contractors.

The big picture: At-home repair is not entirely new.

  • Tesla and other newcomers offer mobile repair services because they don't have traditional dealerships where customers can bring their cars for maintenance.
  • Some luxury brands have been experimenting with similar services, and there are other startups in the space too, like YourMechanic.

Be smart: RepairSmith says its prices are competitive with a high-quality, independent shop in your neighborhood.

  • It's definitely not the cheapest repair service in town: Fast Company did some quick price comparisons in Portland, Ore., and found a driveway oil change was about double the coupon rate offered at Jiffy Lube.
  • But if I don't have to sit on a sticky chair in a smelly shop while I wait for my car to be ready, maybe it's worth a little extra.
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