A little over a month ago I wrote a blog post article expressing my shock and disappointment with Dan Porter Motors in Dickinson, North Dakota. In the past, I had taken two Toyotas multiple times to Dan Porter Motors to have work done, and the work was always performed competently, though it was at car dealership service department higher prices.
In November I took a new to me, Toyota that I had purchased back in August, to Dan Porter Motors for an oil change. Before I had bought this Toyota, during the test drive, and many, many times after I bought it, I looked under this Toyota to see if it was leaking anything. It never, ever leaked one drop of engine oil, engine coolant, or transmission fluid. But after the oil change at Dan Porter Motors, they told me it had an oil leak at the pressure sensor, an oil leak at the crank shaft seal, an oil leak at the oil pan, and a transmission fluid leak at the transmission pan, about $1,200 worth of repairs were needed.
I knew then that I could never, ever take a vehicle to Dan Porter Motors again, because not only could I no longer trust them to make recommendations on repairs that needed to be done, I wondered if they would stab my engine crank shaft seal or undo my engine oil pan bolts in order to cause repairs to be necessary.
I don’t know exactly why this happened. Are car dealers in Dickinson so slow now after the oil boom is over, that the service department managers, service writers, and mechanics have been told to “find work” or they will be out of a job?
I have lived in Dickinson for about seven years now, and the only good independent mechanic that I had ever heard of, was Dave at Dave’s Auto Repair located behind Runnings Farm & Fleet. I was able to take a Dodge truck to Dave’s Auto Repair one time before he closed his garage about a year ago. I was told by Dave’s customers that the owner of the building where Dave’s Auto Repair was located, he had tried to double the rent, and Dave could not stay in business paying twice as much rent.
Doing a lot of checking during the months of September and October of this year, I was able to find one independent mechanic that appeared to have a good reputation, Joe’s Auto Repair located in the industrial park just east of Walmart.
In early December I met the owner of Joe’s Auto Repair, Joe, and I got an estimate for replacing the front and rear brake pads without turning the rotors, on a Jeep, it was $300. This was much cheaper than what car dealerships and franchise repair shops charge in Dickinson.
During the changing of the brake pads on this Jeep at Joe’s Auto Repair, it was discovered that one of the brake caliper mount bolts had broken off, and that this broken bolt shaft had unsuccessfully been attempted to be removed in the past. Joe had to cut this bolt, drill it out, and re-thread the hole. The final price for this brake job, even with the extra work, it was still $300.
A week later, I scheduled this Jeep to have one of the electric windows repaired, using a used window regulator that came with this Jeep from the previous owner. When the mechanic at Joe’s Auto Repair was installing the used window regulator, he noticed that it was missing one of the rollers that fit inside of the slide rail. Joe took the used window regulator with him to various places like parts stores and salvage yards to try to get a roller that was the right size, and he ended up coming back to the shop and making a roller. The window repair, with all the extra time and work, final price was $125.
A few days later I brought this Jeep back to Joe’s Auto Repair for an oil change. For each of these three visits, each time I waited at the shop while the work was being done. For me, and for each of the customers who came in while I was waiting, the service writer looked up the parts, looked up the time for each job, and he gave a price estimate for both the parts and the labor. Myself and everyone else who came in, we were very happy with the price estimates that we were given, there were no complaints, and the work was scheduled.
Another thing that I noticed while I was waiting, insurance companies, oil companies, and construction companies were having vehicles dropped off to have repairs performed. Chevy, Dodge, Ford, and Toyota owners were taking their vehicles here, rather than the dealerships.