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Having Car Problems at College? Call the Mensch with the Wrench.

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid

One of the most common situations clients call me about is not knowing what to do when their college-age son or daughter has car problems at their out-of-state school. Why do my clients call me with these issues? Because I’m willing to get on the phone with a mechanic or car dealer and ask them the questions that your son or daughter may not know to ask. I can make the entire experience much more pleasant. That’s why so many of my clients tell their kids, “no matter what, if you’re having car problems at college, call the Mensch with the Wrench.

Take Alice, for example. I’ve been working on her family’s cars since she and her husband were married 30 years ago. Before her son, Keith, went to college in Arizona, she came to me and asked, “Jack, what is he going to do without you? Since he started driving two years ago, you and your staff have been his automobile gurus.”

I told her not to worry. “Tell Keith to call me if he runs into any issues. I’ll speak to the mechanic and figure out what’s really going on. Then you can be assured that he’s not being taken advantage of.”

It would be a few months before Keith contacted me. Well, to be honest he called his mom first, who told him to reach out to me.

It’s a Big Job

I received a call from Keith a few days later. “Hi, Mr. Bulko, this is Keith, Alice’s son. My mom thought you might be able to help me figure out a problem with my car. I took it to a mechanic in town for an oil change. He looked it over and told me that a lot of other things are wrong with it and says it will cost $2000 to take care of everything. I can’t afford that! My mother reminded me that you had offered to speak with a mechanic if I needed assistance. I need your help.”

I agreed, and we set up a phone call with the auto repair shop. I asked Keith not to mention that I owned a repair shop, but to introduce me as a close friend of the family. I called Chris at the repair shop, and he explained what was going on with Keith’s car.

He told me that Keith’s car was in bad shape and whoever had taken care of it hadn’t done a very good job. I knew he was lying because I knew that car inside and out. Before Keith left for college, it was in tip-top shape for a vehicle that had a few miles on it. I made sure of that. Chris’ snarky attitude told me that he didn’t think I knew anything about cars.

It took no time at all to figure out that this yahoo was trying to make money off of an unsuspecting college kid, and I told him so. I told Keith that I would help him find another mechanic near his school who wasn’t going to swindle him. He was appreciative and told me that he now knows why his family has used my automotive repair shop for so many years. “You really do care about your customers,” he said.

Several days later, I located a shop; another AAA Approved Auto Repair and Customer Service Award winner near his college. I knew that if they had this designation, they could be well trusted. The shop assessed Keith’s car and said all he really needed was an oil change and new air filter. The shop owner thanked me and said that he was glad I intervened on Keith’s behalf. He added, “It’s the crooked shops that give the rest of us a bad reputation.” I agreed and wondered how many other kids fell prey to this particular unscrupulous mechanic.

Understanding Your Vehicle

When I spoke with Keith again, I suggested he become a savvier consumer by familiarizing himself with his vehicle’s owner’s manual and to watch our Car MD videos.

I reminded him that when he comes home, we can run our free Car & Truck Courtesy Check and a check engine light diagnostics. Business ethics matter, whether it’s how you manage your employees or interact with customers or vendors. I find that’s true in any industry. At AutoAid, we understand that building trust with customers can take years. We strive to provide our end users with the most reliable automobile care we can offer at a price that fits their budget. As an added perk we offer special financing through our AutoPass card. When you come to AutoAid, you become a member of our family.

You can find reviews from other satisfied clients on Google, Yelp and on our website under Reviews. Call us today at 818-305-6632 or make your appointment online, or stop by and see our shop. You are also welcome to send us your general questions, and we’ll do our best to return our answers within a reasonable time.

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