The new face of Do-It-Yourself garages

The concept of DIY automotive work is nothing new.

In the 1970s, auto enthusiasts could readily find hourly workspace; allowing them to replace their own oil, change brakes, or drop a transmission.

Hobby shops on military bases provide similar services for active members.

As rent and insurance costs increased, and vehicles became more complex, these independent DIY shops shut their doors, leaving automotive repair work to professional mechanics and those lucky enough to have the tools and home garages.

DIY automotive seemed destined to be a footnote of motoring history.

The art of at-home automotive maintenance is not all lost. An interesting change is taking place as our cities become more populous and the sharing economy model is applied to more facets of daily life.

Millennials are showing a renewed interest in tackling their automotive needs. These tech savvy, cost conscious youth have been inspired by a rash of DIY television shows, Instagram feeds, and YouTube channels. This apartment-constricted generation has more access to information and support than ever before, and is fueled by inexpensive online parts and free two-day shipping.

With improved build quality, the average age of passenger vehicles has risen to 11.6 years, the oldest in motoring history. That means there are a lot of oil filters, belts, and spark plugs that need to be replaced in the coming years, but no place for many DIY mechanics to change them.

A new wave of shops is opening to cater to these wrenchers and their motoring needs. Community garages provide the space and tools to work, as well as offer educational classes, weekly rides, movie nights, and a place to congregate with other enthusiasts.

While community garages are a hub for all things motor related, they are diversifying their services by offering barber shops, selling parts, clothing, coffee, and pop-up retail space for local vendors.

DIY automotive has taken on a whole new look to appeal to a younger generation and it’s working. For apartment dwellers and even experts that lack the tools, these spaces fill a tremendous void.

The transactional nature of hourly space is mostly a thing of the past. Many of these new shops are member based, requiring monthly or annual dues to make use of their space. Users are ok with that change, and are readily buying into the model as dozens of shops are popping up across the country.

This is the millennial version of a country club, a place to spend your days with like-minded people. The concept is by no means mainstream, and community garages celebrate a counter-culture mentality, getting back to a time when people weren’t so engrossed by electronics, getting their hands dirty, and connecting with their machines.

The question remains if community garages can ride out the wave of popularity or are doomed as modern electric vehicles become commonplace.

Regardless of fate, the new wave of shared workspace is an amazing resource for budding automotive enthusiasts and keeping the DIY flame lit.

 

Andrew Koretz is an avid DIY vehicle enthusiast, garage consultant, and founder of GarageTime – an online marketplace for DIY workspace. Check him out on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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