Recently, when I had to get my car serviced I didn’t want to take it to the dealer and I didn’t want them to come and pick it up. That really didn’t leave many options. So I decided to give one of these new startups in the car servicing space a try. I’m going to divide this blog post into 3 parts.
- My experience with Pitstop
- The startups currently in the car mechanic space
- My past experience in the car mechanic space
I decided I would try Pitstop since they provide a doorstep car servicing option. I have a 2017 Creta that has about 19,000 kilometers and needed it’s annual maintenance check. I was able to schedule the visit and they arrived an hour early which was great.
Right off the bat they were professional and told me what items they were going to check, inspect and replace. I was hoping for a checklist or a PDF that would have been sent to me, but no such luck.
They had all the tools and didn’t ask for anything from me which was a relief. I really like the doorstep facility because then you can see everything they are working on. Many people don’t care but I love seeing what color the oil is when it’s drained and how much my brake pads had worn down. I opted for the service that replaced the oil, oil filter, air filter, radiator coolant and brake fluid. They also inspected each spark plug and all 4 brakes.
Overall, I was quite happy with the service. After the service was complete, they mentioned I should change my brake pads and spark plugs in the next 5,000 kilometers…there was no hard core sales pressure which was really nice. I would definitely use them again.
The only hiccup was that my Creta takes approximately 4 liters of oil and they charged me for 5.5 liters of oil. I’m guessing its a standard pricing model and some people might have an issue with that.
Car Mechanic Startups
The two big players in this car mechanic space are GoMechanic and Pitstop, GoMechanic is backed by Sequoia Capital and several other large investors. While Pitstop is backed by Bombay’s Blume Ventures and Group Landmark the largest automotive dealer in India. There are several more smaller players that are also competing for the automotive consumer.
The business model for Pitstop looks really good in that they do the routine maintenance work at the consumers location and save by not having a physical location. Then in the process of working on the car they identify issues and then let the consumer decide if they want to get it fixed at one of their appointed workshops.
I can see Pitstop extending this doorstep service for even specialized services like brakes. The technician mentioned they provide replacing of brake pads with their doorstep service. But, even if I needed to get my brake rotors skimmed in the future they could have that piece of machinery in a specialized van for brakes only. Or they could have a van for replacing all 4 tires on the spot. You would only goto a workshop for serious issues or difficult to troubleshoot problems.
An Advisor to MotorExpert
These car mechanic startups are not new. I was an advisor to one of the earlier ones called MotorExpert in 2013. It was started by several ex-Castrol Oil executives and we had high hopes. I was brought it as the technology advisor and we realized technology was probably 10% of the game. The demand side was plentiful but getting the workshops on board and monitoring their performance was the real effort.
After many false pivots we sadly decided it was time to put the startup to rest. After my experience with Pitstop and GoMechanic I’m more convinced than ever that these startups are here to stay and will change the way people get their cars and bikes serviced in India.