Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Special thanks

I've got no connection to American Towing other than as a satisfied customer. I'd like to offer special thanks to Mike, the owner, for his help in getting me out of a jam.

My truck refused to start when I was picking up lunch, and I was stuck in a parking lot. I figured it was probably the starter motor -- but I didn't have a starter motor, and I didn't have my tools, and I was in the middle of this parking lot.

So after putting the truck in neutral and pushing it over to the side, I spent a little time looking for some easy solution, and there just wasn't one. I'd have to either get a cab down to my farm and get the tools and then a cab to the auto parts store for the part, and then hope that I didn't forget anything, or I'd have to have the truck towed to either a dealer, or my farm.

If I went to the dealer, I couldn't see myself getting out of there for less than $600. And since I figured it was the starter motor, and we're talking about 3 bolts here, i was pretty sure the fix would be simple. hmm... tow truck it is. I chose American basically at random, and I was glad I did.

The rate quoted over the phone was $85, based on my 4x4 truck, and mike appeared in minutes. When I explained that I had a driveline disconnect, he said "oh -- we'll charge you the 2wd price". I was more than willing to pay the quoted price, and he won big points with me here. but then he said "oh, it's the starter motor? If you want, I can tow you to my yard; there's an auto parts store on the way, and I can just leave you hooked up to raise the truck so you can work easier. ". Wow. I explained that I didn't have any tools, and he upped the ante, "looks like you need a 9/16 and maybe a couple of sockets and an extender; i can lend you them. ".

And it pretty much went as planned. except that I'm an idiot and didn't tighten the 3rd bolt enough so that the starter wouldn't engage, so the replacement took me a total of 90 minutes to complete.

1) He appeared in minutes and my truck was hooked up and under tow in minutes. Professional, prompt, perfect.

2) He charged me less than I was more than willing to pay

3) No charge for waiting at the auto parts store, or for the use of his truck in helping me replace my starter.

4) Stayed after closing so I could fix my own mistake.

Mike is a sole proprietor, and while i was laying under my truck he and i talked about starting businesses, and he told me that he'd worked 337 days as the sole guy at his business because of a loss of contract -- sleeping with the phone near his head 24 hours a day, responding to calls.

So to Mike, I appreciate the dedication you show to running your business, and your kindness in helping me out of what could have been a pretty serious pickle. Your help allowed me to get back on the road and off to do my stuff, and I really do thank you.

You can reach Mike at 425-355-7212 or at his website


MMP said...

That's nice of you to put in a plug for a deed well done. Independaant opperators need all the business they can get.

What was wrong with the start? Click and no spin or no noise at all? No noise is a stuck solenoid. Click and no spin is a solenoid that won't engage. Both are generally the result of corrosion freezing up brushes or the mechanism of the solenoid. Vibration will generally free them up for the moment. If you have the click, sometimes just repeatedly applying the key will free it. Sometimes the starter needs a few taps. I have never had one die completely and leave me stransded. I was in the parking lot of a client one day and had to ask an contractor to borrow a hammer to get my van going once. He didn't speak any english, Italian I think, but I got the point across and he was amendable. A couple of taps on the starter freed it up and away I went. I generally kept a peice of rebar about 24" long in that van as it periodically came up with this issue. A peice of steel that long and that heavy was just right for tapping the starter without crawling under the vehicle. Chevy van door handles (on a 66 - 96 body style) are in just the right place to hang onto while peering under the van to make "Adjustments".

Bruce King said...

Click and no spin, and I did try beating on the starter with a big pair of channel locks I happened to have in the truck with me, but no go. I tried maybe 50 times before I called the truck, and another 30 times before the truck arrived. I was resigned to my fate at that point

MMP said...

I stand corrected: