Seattle-based startup Wrench aims to eliminate long wait times at auto repair shops and costly towing fees by bringing a mechanic directly to your doorstep.
The on-demand car repair service, which has been described as the “Uber for car repair,” launched this week in Spokane, providing service from Airway Heights to the Idaho border.
The startup was founded out of “pure customer frustration with transparency, pricing and lack of convenience in the auto repair industry,” Wrench CEO and co-founder Ed Petersen said.
“We recognize that there had to be a better way,” Petersen said. “We built a platform that removes the hassle with car ownership. Our goal is to solve any need that you might have with your car.”
Wrench says its ASE-certified mechanics can complete about 80 percent of auto maintenance services normally done in a repair shop, such as basic diagnostics, oil changes as well as brake pad and timing belt replacements – all from a customer’s home or office.
By creating an account through Wrench’s website or mobile app, users can select the type of services and a convenient time slot for the mechanic’s visit. A price quote is then provided and payment is charged on the user’s credit card once services are completed.
Wrench’s pricing is less than a dealership but on par with an independent repair shop, Petersen said.
Wrench also offers a monthly membership for routine car maintenance that includes oil changes, tire rotation, safety inspections and fluid top-offs for $14.95 a month per car or $19.95 per truck.
Petersen launched Wrench with four co-founders in 2016, and the startup quickly grew to service Seattle, Portland, San Diego and Phoenix.
The startup’s expansion to the Spokane area was based on consumer demand and interest from mechanics. Additionally, Wrench wanted to test a middle-size market.
Although the service launched Tuesday in Spokane, customer response has been great, local Wrench mechanic Trevor Koehn said.
“Everybody that I’ve talked to about it said it could work really good here, especially in the downtown area,” he said. “I think it’s fantastic. It’s still new. So far, I like the idea of it, and it is nice to get out and interact with people and be more active in the community.”
Earlier this year, Wrench secured more than $4 million in Series A funding led by Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group.
Auto maintenance and repair is a huge market that generates about $70 billion a year in North America, and disrupting this market is a big opportunity, said Len Jordan, managing director of Madrona Venture Group.
Madrona Venture Group, which has more than 70 companies in its portfolio including Amazon and Redfin, invested in Wrench because it has a complex and sophisticated system that determines how it estimates repairs, responds to consumers and handles its mechanics to get them to a customer’s vehicle quickly.
Additionally, Jordan related to Petersen’s explanation of car repair inconveniences, such as taking a car into a repair shop, waiting to get it fixed, and paying for a tow truck or transportation to and from the shop.
“I almost didn’t need him to finish talking because I completely understood the pain point,” said Jordan, using a common entrepreneur reference for a problem needing a solution.
The startup has made considerable progress during the past year with high customer satisfaction and repeat customers in all four cities, Jordan said.
“We are very happy about how that’s gone,” he said. “I think they’ll just continue to expand. I would think late next year (the company) will be more aggressive nationally.”