With more than 175 locations nationwide and more than 35 years in the business, Car-X Auto Service has earned a prime spot in the parking garage of quality car care and customer service. Started in 1971 by a team of seasoned muffler-shop owners, the service centers have blossomed from their beginnings as specialty exhaust shops to providers of nearly any repair or maintenance service imaginable, from installing performance-enhancing accessories to treating cars to therapeutic trust falls. In addition to promoting safety and long, healthy engine life with brake services and speedy oil changes, Car-X Auto Service reaches out to the surrounding community with regular philanthropic activities, such as recycling drives and participation in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.
At Tuffy's, motor-vehicle caregivers spruce up patrons' horseless carriages and prepare them for a new season of dutiful service. After installing a new oil filter, auto artisans remove the old sludgy glop clogging the car's arterial system and replace it with up to 5 quarts of Valvoline 5W-30 or 5W-20 conventional motor oil (a $26.99 value, diesel or synthetic oil costs extra). The staff will also rotate tires to prepare four-wheeled wonders for safe gliding (a $12 value) and make sure air-conditioning systems function properly to bring you to the brink of coolness faster than Fonzie’s leather jacket ($9.99) . Finally, a pair of fresh wiper blades (up to 22")—grown locally by organic-blade farmers—supplants worn-out window-rubbers ($22) and a specialist conducts an extensive 41-point maintenance inspection.
A & A Auto Detailing founder Almir Smailbegovic welcomes vehicles into his own home by appointment. After familiarizing himself with each smudge and dusty nook, he sets about recreating the scent, look, and chrome-plated umbilical cord of a brand-new car. For interiors, he and his team employ shampoos, power washers, and a specialized vacuum for removing debris from crevices. They dress tires and wax exteriors to a sleek shine. Clients can remain in their own homes thanks to a pickup and drop-off service for nearby automobiles.
Bill Graham founded the first Graham Tire location in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 1951, a time before dashboards blinked with digital readouts or engines buzzed with microchip brains. As cars have progressed, Graham Tire has kept pace. Still overseen by the Graham family, the current 22 locations employ ASE-certified mechanics who mend and maintain cars, trucks, SUVs, and farm equipment. Computerized engine analysis reveals rides’ performance levels and any problems, allowing the technicians to efficiently diagnose trouble without resorting to good mechanic, bad mechanic interrogations.
When Clint Dudley founded Shade Tree Auto more than a decade ago, he had one guiding principle: any auto shop worth its weight in carburetors should be able to repair any vehicle, regardless of its make or model. The ASE-certified technician’s new shop proved to be a roaring success with local drivers—so much so that it quickly outgrew its small garage and was forced to relocate to a larger facility. Now, at the AAA-approved shop’s current location, Dudley and his crew of master technicians perform preventative maintenance and repairs on cars, trucks, motor homes, and podracers with busted 8-track decks. Though they hold themselves to the high standards of yesteryear’s repair shops, Shade Tree Auto’s technicians feel right at home in today’s automotive landscape as they wield computerized tire-balancing tools and similarly advanced technologies. An old-fashioned sense of customer service compels them to offer a warranty on all of their services and provide a complimentary shuttle to anyone in their local area. Women can head to the garage on select evenings to participate in the Ladies Night Out Crash Course, in which experts demonstrate how to navigate insurance policies and safely jump a car over the Grand Canyon.