Category Archives: Elayne Kling – Don’t Get Wrenched

Elayne Kling, owner of a downtown Manhattan auto repair shop for 20 years has no problem saying what´s on her mind.

As a woman (and single parent) in this crazy business, Elayne knows the particular ins and outs of the auto repair world. Over the years she´s dealt with all kinds of crazy scenarios and her customers run the gamut of celebrities, NYPD, FDNY, churches, missions, to countless NYC dwellers. Elayne´s brash, straight–forward NY, “take no crap”, honest, in-your-face style has helped her dramatically over the years.

Elayne has prided herself for the special care she gives to women who are often mistreated in the auto repair world. Her business model is to treat all of her customers as if they were her friends (many of them end up being just that) and to deal with them honestly. She loves the idea of imparting her wisdom and helping women (and men) learn how to deal with their repair shop and be a more informed customer.

Appraised Of

A customer’s car was hit by a vehicle. She did the right thing, by calling in the claim; but one  thing she did wrong was NOT to have the appraiser come here to my garage to have it appraised. Instead, she took it to one of their drive-in quickie appraisal shops. BIG MISTAKE.

Later, she arrived here with the estimate in hand. When I perused it, I couldn’t believe how small an amount it was written up for. I told her before we do anything, she better call the insurance company and tell them she wanted it reappraised; or, at the very least, they should call me.

This morning the actual appraiser himself called me. I told him there were numerous things missing from the appraisal ;and boy was I surprised when he was honest with me, uttering the words, “Yeah I know, my boss likes me to write it up like that.”

HUH? Your boss likes to write it up for way less than it should be, to save money; so it will cost the customer money out of her own pocket?


Usually, the insurance companies are spot-on with the assessments. Even generous, in some cases. I believe, that’s because we are basically watching over them.

Hopefully this isn’t a new trend and won’t be happening all the time; but make sure it doesn’t happen to you. Take your car to the mechanic/auto body shop you trust and have the appraiser go THERE. This is no different then anything else that needs an expert to oversee it.

Don’t get shorted (or wrenched)!



Air Conditioning Troubles


I’ve had to go back to my mechanic three times, now, to fix my AC. What gives? He keeps telling me a different story…is he just robbing me?


Well ,of course he might just be robbing you. (No question about that.) BUT…AC failure can be very difficult to diagnose. The Freon (not really called that anymore – but I still do) is a gas and can leak out of countless places. You can fix one spot only to have it leak out of another, and possibly from a spot that can’t be seen. You can spend over $1,000 dollars on new compressors, driers and accumulators, only to find that a hose is now leaking or you need a new condenser too.

It’s endless with AC.  Just ask a lot of questions and make any mechanic show you exactly what he’s doing…and make sure he’s not charging you over and over for the Freon.

I have a policy when I’m doing a job for someone: They get charged once for Freon in any given summer. If the new Freon leaks out and a customer has already paid me for one fill-up, then the follow fill-ups are on me. Also please note that your mechanic should be saving and recycling the old Freon.

Good luck, stay cool!


Put A Bow On It


I just got a call from a potential new customer, telling me we came highly recommended. He wanted to bring his “new” car in to be checked out, before a long drive up to Canada. We chatted for a minute or two and then he said “new” again; so I asked what he meant by that, thinking he must mean “new” to him. He told me it was a 2014 with 4,000 miles on it.

I asked why he wanted to bring a brand new car in; and he told me that, although his wife thought he was nuts, he “worried about things like that and wanted to be safe.” I told him to find something important to worry about and to enjoy his trip.

This is my first call of this type in 25 years (of auto mechanic service); but just in case there are any other of you “worrying types” are out there, let me be clear:

The reason to buy a new car is to not worry.


Caller ID


(Image Credit: Donald Joski from

I just went off on someone who called…which I try not to do.  But, seriously, use your brains.

Caller: “My car just broke down, nearby.  It’s a 1996 Buick Century.  I think it needs a fuel pump; approximately, how much would that be?

Me (in an irritated voice): “Don’t call around, asking for prices on a repair that you have no  idea is a correct diagnosis. Someone will tell you $500 on the phone; and you may only need a relay.  Then, they’ll charge you $500 anyway, because they already gave you a price. Call around and find a mechanic you trust, instead.”

Caller: “Oh, ok.”  Click.

It was harsh, on my part; but I get this type of call all the time.   And it is the exact wrong thing to do.  Instead of finding the cheapest job around, try to find the correct job by a reputable technician.


Fender Bender Coping


This is just a friendly reminder from previous blog posts; but, seems to come up over and over.  It’s simple:

If you have a car accident, stay at the scene and call the police.

 I’ve been seeing a lot of the opposite, recently, and just this week one of my customers “didn’t have the time to wait”.  She let the guy convince her that the damage he did to her vehicle would only cost $400.  After accepting the payment, the bill turned out to be $1,600.  Not getting paid enough is only one of the many pitfalls; someone can take down your plate and then claim all sorts of things later on.

Please listen to this advice and DON’T MOVE.


Q&A With Elayne Kling: Do I Need This?



My mechanic just informed me that I need a brake fluid flush and a power steering flush. Do I really need those?




Dear Madison:

This a a topic that is much debated in the industry.  Let me just say this and keep it as simple as possible.  We have never, ever, ever, ever, in 25 years, (did I say never?) charged anyone for a brake fluid or power steering flush.  You may deduce what you will from that.

See the below photo, to sum up my opinion.



Do you have a question?  Contact Elayne at:

Get Mobile!

mobile mechanic worcester

This week’s post comes from my new friend Ken Kupchik from Mechanic Advisor:

Americans are busy people. Sometimes we barely have time to get a decent lunch, let alone drive to a mechanic, wait for work to get done and deal with payment, all while trying not to anger our boss, girlfriend or children. Enter the mobile mechanic.

Mobile mechanics have grown in popularity over the last 6 years, especially since the financial crisis caused millions of people to look for affordable alternatives. Mechanics passionate about automotive repair without the means or the desire to open their own physical locations have joined the field hoping to make a living. Even start-ups funded by venture capitalists have jumped into the fray, attempting to capitalize on the burgeoning mobile mechanic field. So what is a mobile mechanic and what makes them different from your local neighborhood shop?

What is a mobile mechanic?

A mobile mechanic is typically one mechanic working independently that comes to your location to work on your car. Sometimes, a mobile mechanic business will consists of a team of employees, but this is isn’t as common as a single mechanic working alone. There are even mobile mechanics that will perform work on your boat or RV.

How is a mobile mechanic different from a regular repair shop mechanic?

A mobile mechanic is not in any way different from a mechanic at a shop. Both are usually trained professionals with the appropriate certifications, knowledge and experience to work on your car. Both are in the same business and both are human beings. The only difference is the method by which they conduct business. While a regular mechanic will work on your vehicle inside a garage, where you have to go to them, a mobile mechanic will come to you to perform the work.

Can a mobile mechanic perform the same work as a regular shop?

A mobile mechanic can typically perform the same work as any mechanic at a shop. Mobile mechanics can perform oil changes, replace brakes, and even work on complex issues such as engine and transmission repair. Again, as long as they’re trained and certified by ASE or similar organizations, your car will be in good hands.

What are the benefits of using a mobile mechanic?

The biggest and most obvious benefit is convenience. Instead of driving your car to a shop, a mobile mechanic can come to your home, work or school and perform the necessary work while you go about your day, instead of sitting in a crowded waiting room reading outdated magazines about celebrity gossip.

The other major benefit is price. Since a mobile mechanic doesn’t have the large overhead of a shop or employees, prices can be as much as 40% cheaper than at a standard independent repair facility. Making payment shouldn’t be difficult either, as mobile payment systems will allow most mechanics to take a credit card right from their phone.

(insert photo)

What to look for when choosing a mobile mechanic.

There are certain things that you’ll want to look for when searching for a mobile mechanic. Here are the most important:

 Is the mobile mechanic certified by ASE or similar organizations?

  • Can you find reviews online (Angie’s List, Google Reviews, Mechanic Advisor)?
  • Does the mobile mechanic have customer referrals?
  • Does the mechanic offer a warranty on parts and work performed?
  • Will the mechanic provide an itemized receipt?

 Mobile Mechanics fall under the following categories:

  •       Mobile Auto Repair
  •       Mobile Motorcycle Repair
  •       Mobile RV Repair
  •       Mobile Truck Repair
  •       Mobile Tire Repair
  •       Mobile Brake Repair
  •       Mobile Boat Repair
  •       Mobile Detailing

 How to find a mobile mechanic in your area.

Use our search feature above to look up mobile mechanics that are local in your area. Plug in “Mobile” next to Find: and enter your location and click search (magnifying glass). You’ll find local mobile mechanics, reviews, services offered, and the appropriate contact information. Sometimes even coupons for extra savings. If you’re pressed for time or looking to save some money on auto repair, a mobile mechanic is a great option.