Monday, January 12, 2015

A Shoutout To Christian Brothers Automotive

Ever find a mechanic/auto repair shop that you trust? Or maybe a better question is - have you ever had a difficult time finding a mechanic that you trust?

The service centers at most auto dealers usually do great work but they charge an arm and a leg, and sometimes another arm on top of that. Small, privately owned shops can be good if you find one that is reputable and reliable. I haven't found one of those here yet.

Enter Christian Brothers Automotive of Granbury.

Arden's van began leaking power steering fluid onto the garage floor a few weeks ago. I couldn't find the leak so I took the van to Christian Brothers. I had used them before to tune my car and found them not only very professional and thorough but genuinely nice people.

They diagnosed the leak as being from the rack and pinion system and replaced everything for us. It wasn't cheap but it was necessary. In the days following we noticed a thumping noise coming from the front suspension. I took it back in and they found that the strut on the right side wasn't working properly. It had apparently been replaced by another shop following an accident and they used a salvaged part that was defective. Christian Brothers showed me the part - complete with the grease pencil markings from the salvage yard.

They replaced the struts on both sides and I was convinced the van would drive smoothly and quietly from that point on. I was wrong. I didn't even make it out of the parking lot before I heard the noise again. This time I took the actual mechanic for a ride and duplicated the noise (by hitting small bumps in the parking lot.) He put the van back up on the rack and after several minutes of searching discovered the problem.

The lower control arm bushing on the passenger side of the vehicle had a large chunk missing from it. It was tough to see. There is a steel cover plate mounted to the frame that protects the control arm. There is a 1/2 inch diameter hole in one corner of the plate where you can see the bushing if you have a flashlight and a good eye. They showed it to me. The mechanic said he just happened to look in there and saw the bushing.

Now by this time I've got some serious change tied up in the repairs that have already been done. And that's where Christian Brothers surprised me. Because they had not fixed the noise, the reason that I had brought it to them in the first place, they made me an appointment today to bring the vehicle back in and they fixed it for free. They replaced the control arm bushings on both sides, the sway bar bushings on both sides, and another part that I can't remember right now. Counting labor and front end alignment this was a job that was at least five or six hundred dollars. (I didn't ask the total cost.)

They called a little while ago and said the work was finished, the noise was gone, and they were bringing the van to me rather than me having to pick it up. Ten minutes later the van was in the driveway, Colton handed me the key and shook my hand.

It's been some time since I've seen service of that quality and integrity. Owner Mike Loter, his son Colton, and the rest of the Christian Brothers staff are just good people who care about their customers.

Christian Brothers is a franchise chain that was started in the Houston area by two men who met in a church Sunday school class. One, Mark Carr, was a successful businessman and the other a mechanic. Together they formed their first business, calling it Christian Brothers because they were brothers in Christ. Their business was successful and in 1996 another mechanic approached Mark and wanted help opening his own shop. Since then the chain has grown into 100 shops in 8 states.

Anyway - I just wanted to say thanks to Mike and his team (and Christian Brothers Automotive) for bringing integrity, quality work and customer service back to the auto repair business. They have found a loyal customer.

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