By Debbie Holden 25 Oct 2017 5 min read

Car Mechanics – To be or not to be Self employed…?


There are plenty of benefits of becoming self employed and the most popular reasons for becoming your own boss tend to be based around money, freedom and control. The automobile industry is no different to any other, and becoming a self employed mechanic may be something you might have considered if you are currently working as a mechanic for someone else.

The number of car mechanics who are currently self employed are far fewer than those who are employed at car garages. In fact there are currently around 190,000 car mechanics in the UK and of these just 30,000 are self employed.

The chart below, which shows between those working as Vehicle Technicians, Mechanics & Electricians, does highlight that although the total number of car mechanics in the UK has dropped off recently, the number of those that are self employed has remained fairly stable.


Data obtained from the Office of National Statistics


If you are considering becoming self employed, there are a number big differences between working for yourself and being employed by someone else..and unfortunately most of them have little to do with cars!


Registering yourself as self employed

You are required to register your business with the HMRC, even if you are planning to run your business as a sole trader.

In doing this, you will be also registered to pay national insurance and billed for the amount of NI you owe every year.

Registering your business will also mean you will receive a yearly reminder to submit you’re a tax return.


Managing you accounts and submitting your tax return

You will need to keep a log and a physical or electronic record of any money coming into the business. You will also need to track any outgoings including rents, rates, equipment, travel, staff and any other business costs.

It’s advisable to open a separate bank account to make managing your finances easier in the long run.

Every year you will need to submit a tax return for the previous financial year. You can either do this yourself or employ an accountant or bookkeeper to do this for you.  If you register yourself as a limited company, you are required by law to have an accountant involved when submitting your tax information.

If you are planning on taking card payments in your new business you will also need to obtain a special business account, and a Merchant ID from your bank to enable you the authority to handle card payments.


Buying and maintaining your own equipment

Much of the equipment you may need to start on your own as a car mechanic can be pricey, especially if you are planning on offering MOT checks and therefore need to purchase MOT or ATL equipment.

Some garage workshop specialists may be able to offer equipment on a lease basis, or provide finance options for your purchases.

It’s essential that your garage equipment is kept maintained so that you provide a good level of service to your customers as well as operating within the law. Many workshop equipment specialists can offer you service contracts for your equipment to keep it regularly maintained.


Marketing & Sales

As an employed mechanic, the promotion of your services will usually be done for you by the garage that you work for.

As a self employed mechanic you may need to engage in some form of marketing activity yourself in order to gain new customers for your business.

Your marketing activity may involve adding details of your services to local listings or advertisements in the local newspaper. You may also want to want to consider setting yourself up with a simple website to promote your services.

It’s likely as a small start-up that your budget for advertising may be limited, so ensure that news of your new venture is spread by word of mouth by encouraging your current customers to recommend you, and even offering incentives of a discount for any recommendations.



As a car mechanic there are several types and levels of insurance that you will need to purchase to ensure you are operating within the law.

You will need to purchase motor trade insurance, and it is essential that you have public liability insurance so that you are protected against any claims your customers may make against you in the future.

If you decide to employ any extra staff you will also need to purchase employer liability insurance which will protect you against any possible claims made by your employees against you. Employers liability insurance is required whether they are employed by you as employees, or they are employed as contractors.


Talk to other self employed car mechanics

The best advice for any new self employed car mechanics has got to be speaking to those who have already been through the process. Car mechanics who have already gone through the same transition are likely to have lots of tips and advice that they should be willing to share with you.

And if you do decide to take the plunge and set up on your own….. we wish you all the best!


Claire writes for Straightset – Garage Workshop Equipment Specialists in the UK