ABOUT DON'S AUTOMOTIVE
Our labor rate is $104/hour. However, hourly rate has little bearing on the cost of having your car repaired. There is no industry standard for what a "labor hour" is. Labor guides are just that--guides only--and differences between them of 2-3 times are typical. Many repairs involve overlapping labor operations. If a water pump lives under a timing belt such that the timing belt has to be removed to access the water pump, a shop that charges $45.00/hr full book time for both the water pump AND the timing belt labor operation writes a ticket with a HIGHER bottom line than a shop that charges $90.00/hr for the timing belt operation and adds only a little extra time to go ahead and do the water pump it was made accessible. Don's Automotive uses the latter approach. There is a 3/4 hour minimum charge of $76.00 Occasional exceptions apply!
Parts margins at Don's Automotive average 40% -- on the low side by industry standards -- and cover costs of overhead, warranty etc. This is one of many reasons why providing your own parts is not an option.
Our customers report considerable savings, by using us even though we make no claim to always have the lowest prices on any given operation. "Lowballing" is not compatible with quality service. We can save you money in the long run by performing ALL service that your vehicle needs and NOTHING it doesn't. An example would be our frequent refusal to perform tune-ups when the vehicle is running well and the records show no tune-up items due as maintenance.
Charges for scheduled maintenance vary widely. We perform scheduled maintenance based on the owner's manual recommendations, whereas some dealerships print their own official looking maintenance schedules that are grossly inflated to say the least!
The parts we install carry the manufacturer's warranty against defect of manufacture, the length of which varies from item to item, but is often one year/12,000 miles. However, one of our major suppliers now offers 2 years/24,000 miles on all their parts. Our labor operations are guaranteed against error of workmanship for one year, but we make every effort to ensure satisfaction way beyond that period.
Parts that were NOT replaced carry no warranty even though associated parts might have been replaced at considerable expense. For example, despite their all being part of the cooling system, our replacement of a water pump and various hoses does not mean the radiator is guaranteed not to leak a week after service. What we WILL do is pressure test the system and determine that the radiator was not leaking at the time of the other cooling system repairs.
You have the right per federal law to have any preventative maintenance NOT OFFERED FREE OF CHARGE performed at the facility of your choice despite your vehicle's still being covered by a new car warranty. This is assured by the Moss-Magnuson warranty act section 102c. You also have the option to perform scheduled maintenance yourself without jeopardizing your warranty. Just keep receipts for the oil and filter etc. The above information is not always volunteered at dealerships. Any warranty REPAIR or RECALL that costs you nothing the vehicle manufacturer usually requires to be done at an authorized dealership.
Extended warrantees are a jungle. Consumer Reports has estimated that they return only about 11 cents on the dollar. The companies are largely fly-by-night, pseudo-insurance and unregulated operators with all sorts of mechanisms to dodge payment. For this reason our trade magazines warn independent shops never to trust them for payment. What we can do is attempt to obtain an authorization # so you can, hopefully, be reimbursed.
SCHEDULING & ETA:
We work by appointment, but with buffer time allowed for unforeseen emergencies. This gives us a relatively predictable workload and minimizes the time we keep your car.
When appointments are made and broken without notice the system breaks down . We appreciate a phone call 24 hours in advance should there be a change of plans. The call can be made in the middle of the night to voice mail. When we make an appointment we make an absolute commitment to work on your vehicle at the specified time and greatly appreciate your reciprocity.
An appointment for a specific hour of the day is rarely practical due to the many variables of jobs in progress, but, with prior planning, 90% of our jobs can be assured "in at 8:00, out by 6:30" the same day.
If something should come up preventing completion of repairs as planned you will be called the moment we know this. Calling to check on the status of your vehicle delays the process of getting work delivered--YOURS INCLUDED! Thank you for resisting the urge unless you have been out-of-pocket for some time.
We are compulsive about getting all possible contact numbers so we can inform you the instant your vehicle is ready or should it become apparent it can't be ready when anticipated due to an unforeseen circumstance.
The vehicle is NOT considered ready until test-driven and the ticket reviewed!
Lead time for appointments for non-emergency work is two to three days in the busy summer months, less in spring, fall and winner.
Possible warranty issues shortly after our service are considered emergencies
and get high priority.
WHAT WE WORK ON:
We specialize in Asian makes--Toyota\Lexus, Nissan, Honda\Acura, Mazda, Isuzu, Subaru, Kia, Hyundai
We service most domestic vehicles.
We perform most automotive services including tune-up, emissions, electrical and computer work. We do brakes, suspension and steering, drive axle and clutch work, timing belts and timing chains. We do AC and heating. We do engine work but rarely major overhaul or engine replacement.
If something falls outside our field of expertise we have no qualms about letting you know and giving you a referral.
We do not service any Europoean or British vehicles. We do not service very old vehicles. We do not service grossly decrepit vehicles. We do not do diesel work with the exception of certain model Ford Powerstroke, paint & body, glass, upholstery, tire repair, state inspection or mufflers.
DON'S AUTOMOTIVE'S EQUIPMENT:
We keep up with technology expensive though it may be. Our shop equipment includes 6 scanner tools to talk to the onboard computers prevalent in today's vehicles. We have both a state-of the-art OTC Genisys, an older Genisys with a 5-Gas exhaust analyzer on the back and two Snap-On G2500s. We have an ignition oscilloscope. We have several AC refrigerant leak detectors and we have refrigerant recycling for HC-134--the "ozone-friendly" R12 replacement for vehicles '94 and newer. In 2001 we purchased a Snap-on "Vantage" which is a very versatile digital graphing multi-meter to read electronic data from the various sensors prevalent in modern computer-controlled vehicles. We have a LeakMaster smoke machine leak detection system that can find intake manifold leaks, engine crankcase leaks, fuel tank leaks, and perform many emissions system tests. We have fallen in love with this piece!
We subscribe to two extensive repair databases. Both provide quarterly updates of compiled factory service information on DVD -- about 140 gigabytes of wiring diagrams, diagnostic flow-charts etc. One is Mitchell and the other is AllData. Very few shops, even much larger than ours, subscribe to Mitchell and AllData both.
Your complete service history dating back to May of 1993 is on computer with multiple backups on and off site. Reprints of repair orders or service history summaries are available for the asking.
HELP US FIX YOUR CAR PROMPTLY AND ECONOMICALLY:
We all get great satisfaction from performing occasional comprehensive maintenance and then not seeing a vehicle for many tens of thousands of miles while it cruises with little more than oil and filter changes and maybe a set of tires. Obviously the first requirement is viable working material! We will let you know if we feel your vehicle is a "sinkhole" and, in extreme case, decline servicing it.
The average cost per mile of repairs performed at our shop is instantly available from our software, so please inquire if undecided between repair or replace.
For a reliable long term car the most critical things are fortunately the simplest. Keep vital fluids full and checked rather than wait to see if one day the car will run out of oil before it is changed. It is not a realistic standard that a vehicle will never need oil between changes. That dipstick has a purpose!
Emergency fluids in your trunk can be lifesavers. A quart of transmission fluid if you drive an automatic, either water, anti-freeze or water/antifreeze premixed 50/50, and quart of motor oil should suffice.
Avoid unrealistic "bargains" in automotive service or selecting a repair shop from TV ads or coupons.
Have your vehicle checked before long out-of-town trips. If all is well we need only charge you a 1/2 hour minimum.
When your vehicle acts up you can help us with information about the symptoms: Does the noise happen with the vehicle warmed up or cold? High speed, low speed or stationary? The information you gather about the symptoms helps us determine the cause in less time and therefore less cost to you. Speculation from a brother-in-law, spouse or even another shop as to the root cause of the problem distracts from the process. We don't repair vehicles based on any diagnosis except our own.
All the service records you can provide are useful -- just as a medical history is to a doctor. Full records of work done at Don's Automotive can be instantly retrieved from the computer by name, phone #, license plate or vehicle serial # -- it doesn't matter if you lose your copy of the repair order.
We buy for quality rather than price. Unfortunately, certain areas of the parts replacement market are driven almost exclusively by price and quality parts are hard to find. One example of this would be alternators for GM vehicles of the last several years. These are junk across the board even carrying the "Delco" trade name. For the Japanese vehicles we service there are very reliable parts available from the respective dealers and we also have an out-of-town source for original equipment Japanese parts that bypasses the dealer network. This means a lower cost to us and to you for a part identical to that sold at the dealership.
Used parts are installed when there is no other viable option or the part in question is normally a "no-wear" item but suffered some kind of unusual injury and is very expensive or hard to obtain.
Parts installed on your vehicle are described in plain English and itemized on your repair order with the exception of such trivial items as cotter pins, nuts and bolts etc. that come under the "shop supply" category.
Please ask for clarification that might be needed regards parts or labor items on your repair order!
Please see FAQ other
IS DON'S AAA APPROVED, "CERTIFIED," BBB MEMBER ETC? WHY NOT?
Better Business Bureau membership, AAA endorsement, voluntary certification etc. are all advertising programs. None of them will help us do a better job of fixing your car and all cost money. We would rather spend money on equipment and information services to keep up with repairing vehicles in today's hi-tech environment. We feel that the best possible service is better marketing than spending money on BBB dues. Our advertising budget is minimal. It consists of business cards, this web site and support of two local grass-roots organizations we are very positive about: TXRD and Ecology Action. Don's Automotive IS a sponsoring member of IATN -- Independent Automotive Technicians Network. We are an IATN member not for marketing purposes, but for the invaluable opportunity to exchange management and technical ideas with the very best automotive professionals worldwide.
We recycle antifreeze, cardboard, plastics, motor oil, oil filters, batteries, scrap metal, R12 (freon) and the newer HC-134 air conditioning refrigerant as well as certain parts that can be rebuilt. We were proud to be a "Silver Arrow" business partner of Ecology Action of Texas which has now closed.