Sunday, August 24, 2008


I know they named themselves "A-Car" so they could be at the top of the listings. I laugh when people do stuff like that.

Not long after I moved to Pasadena my car needed a major repair. I didn't know a mechanic here, so I went through the AAA listings. The nearest place with an appointment available happened to be A-Car on Walnut at Mar Vista, and the Service Manager happened to be Vic.

I drive about 10,000 city miles a year. That's L.A. miles, baby, that's wear and tear. The poor car (we call her the Snot Comet—don't ask) has had some major work done, just like any other L.A. babe with miles on her. I've come to trust Vic and his team with the big stuff. When the job is negligible—tighten this or loosen that—Vic waves me off without charging me. Why on earth does he do that? Why doesn't he charge me through the nose when he knows I haven't the faintest idea what he did and I'd probably pay? Because Vic is that rarity of rarities, an honest businessman.

He's also no fool. In me he has a customer for life, and he knows it.

The car in the photo above is not mine. I want to clarify that. I wonder if that person is as happy with A-Car as I am?


Ted Thompson said...

And that's how business should be done! You're right, he's no fool, but it works both ways.

There's a certain amount that has to be made or else the cost of "processing" the invoice makes it not worth writing it.

Still you are there to serve a need, so that's how you do it.

Too many businesses think "You are there to get paid for providing a service" rather then "You are there to provide a service for which you are paid."

Sharon said...

What a great find! I would love to find a mechanic like that. I take my car to the dealer and it seems to always cost a bundle no matter what.

life observer said...

P, well my guy is near Walnut & Foothill!
He's a Nissan specialist but has been sympathetic enuf 2 take a look at others with lesser cars. Used to work for Wondries Nisssan in Alhambra.

Been with him since last century.

He's missed several opportunities I've given him to charge me for something. He knows his customer service, an often lost art in business. Like me, he looks at people as more than just customers/clients/patients.

I'm in for life at this shop.

Petrea said...

Too bad the predatory lenders weren't thinking that way, eh Ted? If they'd "provided a service for which they were paid," maybe they wouldn't be paying the price now.

Sharon, don't get me wrong, I pay A-Car the going rate when they do the big jobs, but I don't feel like I'm getting swindled! Sounds like Life Observer feels the same way.

Names, L.O.! Tell! There's room for more than one good mechanic in town.

ben wideman said...

Life, are you referring to Foothill Smog and Auto Repair? We've taken our car there since shortly after arriving and have been very impressed with the way we've been treated. Maybe Pasadena is an oasis of honest (or at least seemingly honest) mechanics.

Laurie said...

And I've been impressed with (of all things) the Pasadena Hyundai dealership. I've luckily only had to have my car routinely serviced but I was stunned when they took me right in without an appointment, offered to drive me home, called and asked me about fixing something that they could have easily told me was necessary and I would never have known the difference and finished up by closing time that day.

Also, they followed up with a customer service call to make sure I was satisfied with the car's performance after servicing.


Have we all just ended up in Honest Mechanic Land?

Good to know about this place, Petrea.

life observer said...

Names, we want names! Ok, Petrea, but you could've made it a lot easier by giving me an offer I couldn't refuse.

Although I try to respect privacy too much, 4 those who have Nissan's (Infiniti's/Honda's are ok) I'd heartily recommend...

Autotech by Beck. (626)584-0522 It's across from Pasadena Honda.

He nursed a prior Maxima to 440,000 miles w/the same engine/trans!

Ask for Beck (just a coincidence). If you call please mention "Mike with the 440,000 black Max referred me." I'm hoping for some kinda kickback or at least free future clutch service.
Can't guarantee what he'd do for you, but he won't charge you for what you don't really need!

BW, no. Ironically i'm bad with names but I've probably seen your smog shop. btw, did u find the old Fuller bookstore/cafe?

ps, those with dogs may want to ck my blog today.

life observer said...

And to Laurie re the unbelievably attentive auto service she received:

don't you think it's about time you started telling people you're married w/child!!

Katie said...

I'm impressed by anyone who can look at this photo and actually know what it all these parts do! You're lucky to have found A-Car; sounds like the service there is top-notch. I have a great mechanic too and it's a great comfort since my car is from 1992 and occasionally has a few issues. I don't drive anywhere near the amount you do though!

Laurie said...

Ha ha ha, Mike. For your info, I went in with my hubby and child!

life observer said...

Begging the question!

Time to go eat.

freefalling said...

I'm still chuckling at "the snot comet".

marley said...

I wouldn't like to be the owner of that car! Its nice to still find honest people out there.

Petrea said...

Ben, could it be true? Someone out there must have a "bad Pasadena mechanic" story to tell. Am I being negative?

Laurie, it's like we left L.A. and ended up in Oz.

Whaddaya mean, "privacy," L.O.? A person doing good business doesn't want you to tell anyone? Why? Because he doesn't want to attract...more business?

Yeah, Katie. Got to keep a great mechanic. Like gold.

I'm glad I got a giggle out of you, freefalling.

Marley, that person may be the one unhappy customer.

Christie said...

I love honest businessmen. I really hate those who try to cheat you though! Had that happen, I think because I was a woman coming into a car repair shop by myself. They tried to scare me into thinking that my car was seriously damaged, when it was a 1/4 inch dent in a pipe. Needless to say, I haven't been back to that shop ever again! Glad you have a great mechanic!

Miss Havisham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miss Havisham said...

Thats was me. I had to chuck that comment. It made no sense to me. This new one will make no sense to anyone:

My father taught all of his daughters to know something about such greasy, disgusting things as engines. However, I am baffled by this photo (I love the composition).

What is all that stuff that looks like the bottom part of an air-cooled engine? Where are the missing differential axle shafts?

An axle is vetty important! I don't think we can drive without two of those that hold the four wheels on. See? I know a lot for a biddy.

I do hope this mechanic provides axles that are non-tapered, with hardened bearing seats and machined c-clip grooves, to fit OEM applications. Made to withstand the rigorous demands of rockcrawlers, trail-busters, and off-road course racers like you, Petrea.

Maybe that's why they are really called A, for AXLE?

PS. Electric cars do not muss the mechanic with grease. How clean and lovely their shops must be. This has been a propaganda moment from your Miss H. ober & out.

life observer said...

MH, 4 a minute there I thought you were still drinking & blogging.

I better stop. I don't want to get scolded again by Petrea.

Miss Havisham said...

(hiccup) What?

Bernie K. said...

Hm. I see a disc-brake ass'y in the lower right quad of the photo. Following that up to the upper left quad, I see a buncha jumbled hooey that could obscure an axle, or the mount for same. Let's admit that cars these days ain't the hay-chewin' donkeys of yore & concentrate on our XML & Perl skills, shall we? Much more becoming to the (virtual-)horsey set, esp. when we are in our evening cups.

Miss Havisham said...

Perl one and perl two
The cars got two tires
The brakes got no shoes

Ho scotch. I love scotch. Scotch!

Ms M said...

You took the photo at an intriguing angle -- makes for an interesting shot.
And it's such a relief to find an honest auto repair shop, isn't it? After moving to a new city, it seems to be hardest to find good auto repair and a good hair stylist!

Bernie K. said...

Wonder if anybody's ever driven into A-Car in their Z car

Any got a Big Bird costume?

USelaine said...

The custom of naming cars (other than the factory label) has astonished me ever since I learned of it.

Snot-comet takes it to yet another level.

Hilda said...

Wow, good for you! It's so hard to find a good and trustworthy mechanic. My husband and I are still hopping from one to another, wondering when we'll find someone like your Vic.

Meead S. said...

You're lucky! Today finding such businessmen are hard. Interesting post.

pasadenaadjacent said...

I have bad car karma or more likely, a past habit of purchasing American made vehicles. I could write a book on my many unfortunate experiences with mechanics(or a screenplay) visit Laurie's post on Hugo. One of my cars was a Chevy Vega. Such cars break down anywhere and everywhere leaving you in the hands of local mechanics. I will never purchase an American made car again (Chevys are the absolute worst). Considering how many more cars are on the freeways, take note of how few are in the break-down lanes. When there is a car it's often American made. Yup, it's official, I'm on a rant! I've been sharing Formosa's with Ms H.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Bernie's HTML lessons are paying off.

Petrea said...

Christie, looks like someone didn't learn those lessons Ted spoke of. It's fine to make money. But you do that by serving the customer, not by cheating her! (My rant.)

Miss H, you know I want an electric car.

Have I ever scolded you, L.O.? I don't remember. Must have been drinking and blogging, but I don't remember doing that, either.

Bernie, I didn't understand a word of that.

Ms M, I have a good hairstylist, too. We've been working on that photo but I haven't gotten the right one yet. I'm seeing Idette first thing tomorrow and will try again.

USElaine, you're back!!! Woopee!

Hope you find him or her, Hilda. Like Meead says, we're lucky and we know it.

Feel free to rant here anytime, pasadenaadjacent. You wouldn't be the first one to feel this way but your rant would be welcome either way.