I love my mechanic … seriously

by Sandra

At 102,000 miles or so, it was about time for my car to get a new timing belt. My mechanic had been pestering me for some time to get a replacement, since it’s much cheaper and much easier to replace it before it breaks, than say having my car go from 70mph to zero in a dead stop on the 10 Freeway.

So I took in yesterday to the guys at Hana Automotive. I mention them by name because if even this one little blog post can help them generate more business, I’m all for it. I would climb up onto my rooftop and scream their praises if I thought it would help. Why? Because in Los Angeles, a land of automotive dependency, finding a decent, honest mechanic is like finding the Holy Grail. And once you find one, don’t dare let them go.

When I dropped my car off in the morning, Heedo told me he’d call me when it was finished. I knew I had a day’s worth of long hours to whittle away as I waited so I took my time in ordering a cup of coffee, watching Mongol, talking to Michelle on the phone, eating lunch and sitting quietly in a neighborhood park for a while. When I finally trudged back to the repair shop, I was tired and dehydrated from the heat of the day and the long journey around Hollywood. Heedo waved his greeting and I sat in their outdoor waiting area. After a while he came to me and explained that the car was done but that he noticed the tread coming off one of my tires and that I should really get it replaced. He showed me the damage and I asked if it could be done right away. After all, I had already waited seven hours for my car, why not make it eight and be done with it?

He ordered the tire and I went back to my book. About five minutes later he came back with an ice-cold bottle of water in his hand. He explained in his polite, heavily accented English that it was hot and that water was the best thing of a day like that. I expressed my thanks, figuring that I guess I looked like I felt—tired and about ready to pass out, ’cause a minute or so later he came back with a couple of bun-like pastries in his hand and offered them to me, describing their egg and meat filling. I felt nauseous but accepted them anyway, expressing more thanks to him.

Later, once everything was finished, Heedo handed me the bill, which came to a cool $600. I gulped but handed the credit card over anyway. After all, the timing belt is something that I’m not going to have to replace again in the life of the car, probably. He walked me out to my car and closed the door once I was seated comfortably inside. I turned the ignition over and as he walked back to the garage, he stopped and looked at my wiper blades (which have been dull and in need of replacing since about 2005). He unsnapped them, took them off, and ran quickly to retrieve a new pair, snapping them into place and waving me off.

Huh, I thought as I drove west down 3rd street, making my way back to Culver City. That’s cool, free wiper blades and water and food. This guy is great. Then I looked at the itemized service slip and noticed that he hadn’t charged me for the tire or the maintenance to put it on. Whoa. I was already paying $600, but he could have easily charged me $700 for the extra work he did for free. I almost started crying at that point, touched by the kindness and generosity of these men who are so diligent in their work.

And that’s why when you find a good mechanic, you stick with them.