Van Nuys Auto Repair & Service Center

AAA

Angie's List
Female Friendly Dealer

Brakes Take a Beating in the Heat

Brakes Take a Beating in the Heat

For many, summer vacation is over, but the intense heat will continue to plague us and our cars. More people on the road means more traffic and more time that your vehicle is idle. Brakes take a beating in the heat.   Just ask Diana. She walked into the shop last week and was visibly frustrated. She had just returned from a trip out to Bakersfield. On her return route, she pressed down on the brakes and realized something was off, so she brought “Bessie” (her nickname for her 2009 Camry) into the shop.  I met her as she pulled up in the driveway.  Waving me down, I heard Diana say, “Jack, there’s something wrong with Bessie.” It took me a moment to remember that Bessie was her car and not a family member. After offering her some cold water, it was hot out that day, I asked her to tell me what had happened. “Well, I was driving home from a client in Bakersfield. It was a quick two-day visit. I was about ten minutes away from m ... read more

It’s Too Hot to Handle

It’s Too Hot to Handle

Over the years, I’ve learned that my customers with poor or no air conditioning in their cars are the most unhappy. This has been especially true if they had to drive their car into my shop on a hot day--by the time they get here, they are irritated. Take my customer, Velma. She’s been coming to my shop almost since I opened my doors in the late 1970s. Her car issues have been  minor (she’s been great at bringing it in for maintenance) until her car’s air conditioner stopped working. It was over 90 degrees F. that day. I had just walked out of my office, and I saw Thelma looking a bit harried. “Jack, my air conditioner isn’t working. It’s too hot to handle.” I couldn’t agree more. We depend so much on our car’s air conditioning systems during the hot weather, which seems to be year ... read more

Is My Hybrid Battery Kaput?

Is My Hybrid Battery Kaput?

I arrived at the shop the other morning just in time to answer a call from Sally, a long-time AutoAid customer. “Is my hybrid battery kaput?,” she asked. “I don’t know. Tell me what is happening, Sally.”   My hybrid battery isn’t working. I’m spending much more in gas.  I know the car is 12 years old, and that hybrid batteries last about a decade. It’s just that it’s been so reliable I’ve become accustomed to nothing going wrong.”   “Why don’t you bring your car in so our team can take a look at it. We can do some diagnostics on it and replace it if necessary.”     Time for a Change Sally was right on target. The battery ... read more

Why Do Many Auto Repair Shops Treat Women So Poorly?

Why Do Many Auto Repair Shops Treat Women So Poorly?

Image Credit: Mr. Music - stock.adobe.com “Why do many auto repair shops treat women so poorly?” This was the question Julie, a newer customer, asked me during our first phone call. She found out about my shop from her colleague Suzzie, a long-time customer, after going through some fairly rough experiences with other automobile repair garages.   Suzzie also mentioned to her that we were a woman- and LBGT-friendly shop. What this boils down to is that EVERYONE is treated respectfully and equally at AutoAid.   I invited Julie to visit the shop and see for herself what we offer. I told her she would never see a repair place cleaner than ours, or one with better trained techs.   A few days later, she arrived at our doorstep. The first thing Julie said when she came into my shop was, "It's so clean." But what she was most impressed with is that we LISTEN to our customers. AutoAid is a one-stop sho ... read more

Categories:

General

On the Road Again...But Check Under the Hood First

On the Road Again...But Check Under the Hood First

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid It’s spring, and as the Willie Nelson song goes, “it’s time to get on the road again.” That’s what many of AutoAid’s customers are hoping to do after a year of stay-at-home orders. Before you rev your engine and drive off to “places you’ve never seen before,” you may want to check beneath the hood, under the car and in the trunk for any unexpected creatures. Cats, rats and other small animals look for warm places to rest and nest in the colder weather. And if you left food in the car, well, they get hungry too. Rats, in particular, can cause havoc to your vehicle’s wiring, hoses, fuses, upholstery, and more. That’s what happened to Ted, a longtime customer, who for most of last year didn’t move or start his car. It just stood idle in his driveway for months. He was terrifi ... read more

Categories:

General

My Car is Smoking Under the Hood. What Should I Do Now?

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid A customer called our shop the other morning. “I can’t believe it! I just drove to the corner of my street, and I noticed smoke coming out from under the hood. What should I do now? It’s difficult to assess what is going on under the hood unless I can see, hear and smell it. I told him that if he hadn’t already pulled off the side of the road, to do so now. I wanted to make sure he was safe. I then asked him if any lights on the dashboard indicated a problem? For example, did the temperature light or gauge indicate the engine was hot? Or was the oil icon indicating a leak? I also wanted him to note what it smelled like—different smells are associated with various issues. In addition, I asked him to tell me how dense the smoke is, how far away he was from the car at the time, and if he had an auto club membership. It turned out that he did have a membership with a road service company that included ... read more

Categories:

Services

When Was the Last Time You Went to a Car Mechanic Who Heard a Word You Said?

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid When people think of getting their car fixed, they focus on the mechanic, and true enough that person is responsible for repairing their car. What they don’t factor in is their own experience with the car: the noises it makes, odd smells, weird sounds or the feel of the ride, and a technician who listens to their concerns. We approach your vehicle much like a doctor does an ill patient. When was the last time you went to a car mechanic who heard a word you said? Months? Years? EVER? We understand the importance of listening to our customers and of our customers being heard. We’ve been your neighborhood repair shop since 1979. We Save You Time, Money & Aggravation We begin by asking questions, running tests and making observations, and only then do we prescribe solutions. By asking, testing and listening to your answers, we get the best possible understanding of the mechanical failure. To make sure there is no miscommuni ... read more

Categories:

Services

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 ... read more

After It's Repaired: What Should Consumers Ask Before Leaving the Shop with Their Car

By Jack Bulko, AutoAid You’ve just had your car repaired. It had been a while since you took it in for maintenance. The brake pads needed changing, and so did a couple of belts. But it was the rotors that really cost you. You had a list of questions you wanted to ask the technician when you picked up your car, but quickly forgot after signing the paperwork. You realize you didn’t see the parts that had been replaced (and you had asked when you brought the car in) nor did anyone review the final bill and associated costs with you. What do you do? Call the automotive repair shop, and ask for the needed information. Both these items are required under California’s Automotive Repair Act of 1974. If for some reason you can’t do this, either because they are out of the area or you feel too embarrassed to go back, call AutoAid. Our family-owned and operated business believes that educati ... read more

When You Are in Charge of Servicing Your Car for the First Time EVER

By Jack Bulko “My husband always took care of this and now he’s just dropped it into my lap! And if you think you’re going to take advantage of me because I’m a woman, you have another thing coming. I have been burnt more than once and it is not going to happen again!” All I had said to her up to that point was “How can I help you?” I could have raised my voice too, but I sensed the frustration in her voice and knew that her anger wasn’t directed toward me, at least, not exactly. I knew that she just wanted someone to listen to her and to help her solve her car issues in a fair way. So, I listened. I wanted to make her experience at AutoAid as pleasant as possible. After bringing her to our customer service waiting area for some coffee, we talked about the knocking noise she heard in her engine and what it might be. I explained that we perform a free ... read more

AutoAid is committed to ensuring effective communication and digital accessibility to all users. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone, and apply the relevant accessibility standards to achieve these goals. We welcome your feedback. Please call AutoAid (818) 901-1113 if you have any issues in accessing any area of our website.