Tag Archives: auto repair in Dickinson North Dakota

I Found A Good, Inexpensive, Independent Mechanic In Dickinson, North Dakota

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.

The Tragedy Of Dave’s Auto Repair In Dickinson, North Dakota

I am a big believer in taking Fords to the Ford Dealer, Dodges to the Dodge Dealer, and Toyotas to the Toyota Dealer.  The mechanics in each of these dealerships have worked on hundreds of F150s, Ram 1500s, and Toyota trucks.  These mechanics have done the repair that you need on your particular model vehicle, dozens of times.  They know the easy way to do it, without damaging anything else, and the additional parts that can’t help being damaged that will have to be replaced too.

I also like the fact that service departments which are part of a car dealership have so much assets, that if a repair is ever done incorrectly which requires it to be redone or results in damage to your vehicle, they can afford to redo the repair or compensate you for the damage done to your vehicle.  They practically have to handle an incorrect repair in the most customer friendly way in order to maintain a good overall reputation.

I estimate that in the past six years in Dickinson, North Dakota, I have spent $2,000 at the Ford Dealer, $1,500 at the Dodge Dealer, and $1,200 at the Toyota Dealer getting vehicle repairs done.  The work was done well or just O.K., but it was expensive.

My Ford F150 for instance, the heater core had a hole in it, and the entire dashboard needed to be removed in order to replace the heater core.  A repair garage in Idaho, and the Ford Dealer in Dickinson both read to me the man-hour estimate for removing and reinstalling the entire dashboard, and it was something like eight hours.  Because of the large number of hours, and the high hourly shop rate at the Ford Dealer in Dickinson, this repair cost me about $1,200.

My Dodge 1500 for instance, the headlight switch quit working.  The Dodge Dealer mechanic said that he had done this light switch repair many times, and that it wasn’t just a matter of replacing this switch, the wiring harness plug for this switch was notorious for melting, and he was able to show me on my truck that this wiring harness plug had in fact melted.  In order to splice on a new wiring plug onto the wiring harness, it required the dashboard to be removed and reinstalled, and this repair cost me $500 due to the amount of man-hours and the high hourly shop rate at the Dodge Dealer in Dickinson.

At the Toyota Dealer Service Department in Dickinson, not only did I look at their nice looking women employees in their service department, and their nice looking customer women who were waiting for their vehicles to be repaired or serviced, I wrote about it.  I may not be very welcome in the Toyota Dealership Service Department in Dickinson, so for this reason, and for the reason of the car dealership service departments being so expensive, I needed to find a good, less expensive, independent mechanic in Dickinson.

In the past several years in Dickinson, a few local people had recommended Dave’s Auto Repair to me.  This repair garage is located behind Runnings, in the same building as the car wash, which has the large sign that reads “Four Seasons Auto”.  I had stopped at this garage once before when they had a Lexus for sale.  It was an inexpensive Lexus, but the paint on the hood, roof, and trunk had its clear coat worn away, and the paint was beginning to oxidize, and at the time I needed a nicer looking vehicle with no oxidized paint.

About a year ago, the engine oil pressure gauge quit working most of the time on my Dodge 1500 truck.  This didn’t bother me too much, because there was still a low oil pressure warning light that was separate from the oil pressure gauge.  Three months ago, 35 miles into my drive on the way to work, the low oil pressure warning light came on in my Dodge 1500 truck.  I pulled off the side of the road, added one quart of engine oil, started the truck, and the low oil pressure warning light did not come back on for the rest of the drive to work.

In the following days, the low oil pressure warning light on my Dodge 1500 truck came on, and stayed on.  Me, and two of my co-workers doubted that there was no oil pressure in this truck, my two co-workers said that it was most likely a bad oil pressure sensor sending unit.  One of my co-workers who I had worked with for almost a year, who was very practical, level headed, and cheap, recommended Dave’s Auto Repair in Dickinson very highly.  He said that he had been taking all of his vehicles, even his new vehicles to Dave’s Auto Repair for the past fifteen years.

My co-worker explained to me that Dave, the owner, did the work, along with his two sons.  He said that Dave was very honest, and very reasonable on the cost of car repairs.  In a few days I went and met Dave to make an appointment to have my Dodge 1500 engine oil pressure tested, and then replace the oil pressure sensor sending unit if it was faulty.

When the work was done on my Dodge 1500 truck in approximately August of 2018, Dave’s son did the repair, and I talked to him a little bit when I came to pick up my truck and pay for the repair which cost about $150.  I had met Dave’s son a couple of years ago when I went there to see about the Lexus which they had for sale.  This repair to my Dodge truck was fine, it didn’t cost that much, and I liked Dave and his son.  I planned on getting a lot more work done at Dave’s Auto Repair, especially getting the front drive shaft CV joints and seals replaced on this Dodge 1500 truck.

In September, I believe it was, I was getting my hair cut in a barber shop, when a young man came in and said to the barber that he had to get his van off of the garage property by the end of the day, because they were having an auction at the garage the following day.  The barber asked this young man if he was buying his father’s tools, and this young man said something like he would have bought them prior to the auction or he didn’t want to bid on them at the auction, because he wanted the auction to bring as much money as possible.

I thought about what this young man and the barber were talking about, it seemed like this young man’s family’s repair garage or service company was unexpectedly going out of business, which was very sad, because this young man was employed at this business.  He might have expected to own and operate this business one day, or be employed there for the rest of his life, but that wasn’t going to happen now.

After he left, I asked the barber what was going on, and he said that Dave’s Auto Repair was closing, and that they were auctioning off all of their tools and equipment.  I misunderstood what the barber said, because I thought that there was no way that the repair garage that I had just gone to was going out of business.  I said, you are not talking about Dave’s Auto Repair behind Runnings, at the car wash?  And the barber replied, that yes he was.

I couldn’t believe this, what were Dave and his two sons going to do now?  Hadn’t he been in business at that location for something like twenty years?  I telephoned my co-worker who had recommended this garage, who had been taking all of his vehicles there for fifteen years.  My co-worker said that he and a bunch of people that he knew asked Dave what was going on.  My co-worker heard from his friends, that the owner of the building where Dave had his garage, had told Dave that he was going to triple his rent.  Dave supposedly said to the owner of this building, that there was no way that he could make enough money to stay in business if he tripled his rent, so that he would have to close his business.

I was very sorry to hear this, and my co-worker said that he and his friends were all going to go over to the owner of this building where he lived and drag him out of his house, but Dave would not tell them where he lived.  This is very, very typical and well known in Dickinson, that the greed of the property owners is so great, that they expect successful business owners to hand over most of their money to them, so that as business owners they would be left with about $10 per hour to pay themselves.

Now Dickinson no longer has one of the most honest and reasonable independent repair garages in town.  Dave no longer has the satisfaction and freedom of being self employed, running his own business, and providing a good place to work for his two sons.  His two sons no longer have the pride, security, and future of working in a successful family run business.  All because of the evil greed of the property owners in Dickinson.