Room for more

19 05 2014


What’s currently in your garage?  Do you even know?  Take just a few moments and consider what you might do with MORE space.

[pause for revelation]

What might you wish you could store if capacity weren’t an issue?  A tractor, summer convertible, or motorcycle perhaps?  These are just a few examples, whether or not you already own them.

The image on the left illustrates how quickly extra room can be consumed by tires, provided you’re currently holding onto yours. (or multiple pairs)  You may already know this but for those that don’t, we offer an extremely affordable tire storage option.  For the cost of two pizzas (or 1 XL pie from our friends GRPD), we can conveniently keep your tires on site in our enclosed/locked trailer.  $20 PER SEASON.  Yes, you heard us correctly.

So, let’s review this very simple process…

Of course, we must admit this is going to be a more pressing issue for those of you that (wisely) exchange your warmer weather tires in the summer for snow tires in the cold winter.  However, it doesn’t require this seasonal option.  Perhaps you carry an extra set for different reasons, or happen to have kids who use your garage as their own tire depository.  Whatever the case, all you have to do is indicate you’d like to advantage of this convenience.  We’ll tag your tires and relocate them from your garage to our on-site trailer.  What’s more, you can even keep your spare tires on different wheels for an extremely quick swap at the end of each applicable season.

Next time you’re in for an oil change, tire rotation, brake inspection, or whatever need you may have, do yourself a favor and buy additional peace of mind for the low price of $20.  You can’t beat it.

*Environmental note* Tires pictured above are accumulated on site and given to a local company that recycles them, and some are even re-purposed into mulch for your landscaping needs – keep it green, folks!


Speed Matters

8 07 2013


Summer has officially arrived (a few weeks ago) and with it comes a great opportunity to save on your favorite APR LLC performance upgrades.  Own an Audi, Volkswagen, or Porsche?  Interested in maximizing efficiency, improving fuel economy, and let’s face it… going faster?

We have the solution for YOU.

Contact us today, or schedule an appointment online and take advantage of these savings while they last.  This promotion offers the best value and it’s only available for a limited time.  Our resident APR Expert, Todd Vruggink, is ready to help you NOW.

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Spring into savings

1 05 2013


Save money today, good through 05.24.13

Click below.


Got Google?

18 12 2012

Google Logo 2010

By now we must all be aware of the Goliath enterprise known as Google.  In fact, the greater majority of people reading this post will have already used the search tool a few times today.  Suffice it to say convenience has its advantages, yet it’s important to understand the entire story.  To a small independent business, this comes at a heavy price.

In order to be established online, one simply must embrace and utilize Google.  That, in and of itself, is not wrong.  What becomes difficult, however, is the level of dependence (and ultimately control) this major company breeds.  You see, questions do not need to be asked beforehand concerning what might work best for everyone.  In other words, the developments of the Google platform are not a democratic process whatsoever.  You/we receive what is dictated to us, period.  We’ll come back to this important point in just a moment.

E-commerce has changed, and rightfully so.  No longer do people rely on their own intuition for making purchasing decisions, rather the real weight is now bore by a collective community of “reviewers.”  Businesses work hard to cultivate high quality relations, and ideally the experiences consumers have with each respective establishment will be shared among their peers and family through resources available on the internet.  This is the direction we’re headed, and it will (so far as we can tell) not change anytime soon.  We’re not sure it should either.  It’s important to gain a better understanding of why we turn to others’ opinion when it comes to making decisions of our own, and the answer there is because it provides unbiased (theoretically) points of view we may relate to one way or another.  In other words, we’re seeking consensus and weighing our options.

A second element of building an online reputation rests heavily on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), in which Google, Yahoo, Bing,, and several others come into play.  It’s inevitable that businesses invest time and resources into making sure people can find them, and we’re no different.  There is a defining characteristic, however, that makes or breaks a company’s ability to “rank” higher, and that clearly is money.  Plain and simple, in this case, as in many others in life, the Presidents of our past speak loud and clear.  Companies like Coca-Cola, Apple, Red Bull, and their counterparts… they can easily drop six figures monthly, to assure their place on “the list.”  With that said, how do small businesses compete?  Well, they strategically approach their “online footprint” in the same fashion, only with significantly less zeros at the end of their monthly bill.

OK, now let’s return to that point a couple paragraphs ago.  These “search engines” utilize what’s called an algorithm, and believe us when we tell you it is constantly evolving.  In fact, one of the key changes we’d like to highlight here is also a main reason for writing this blog entry – weight of online reviews, and more specifically how they’re recognized.  In August of 2011, Google in particular crushed the spirit of countless small businesses across the nation, including ours.  At the time, we had 179 of our customers submit qualified reviews based on the service(s) they received through our shop.  Those testimonials were displayed prominently at the top of our main Google page, adorning the site with a badge of honor that was neither freely given nor achieved without sacrifice.  Point being, our commitment to service and complete customer satisfaction earned every line of feedback we received – good, bad, or indifferent.

Come one cold morning in August of 2011, literally overnight, our viewable (without conscious effort) reviews were reduced to 17.  That’s right, 162 of our reviews were considered inferior to those left directly through’s mainframe.  They were still there, in that they didn’t disappear, but online visitors would be forced to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find them… and even then Google didn’t make that process easy.  There was reason to believe that might be the final blow, so to speak.

Enter Google + into the picture and well, you guessed it… Google decides to make more changes, once again not designed to protect or preserve small businesses.  Thus far Google’s answer to facebook has been less than impressive, but they’re committed to building on this platform.  Recent changes (implementation of Zagat scores) cater to the proposed growth of their Google + environment.  To be clear, Google used to be set up on a “star” grading system.  This is what most people recall… and honestly, what made the most sense.  I mean, when was the last time you didn’t understand the notion of 5-Star dining or hospitality?  When you read the Entertainment section in your local newspaper, does it not sink in when the critic says your highly anticipated summer blockbuster was given 3.5 out of 5 stars?  Right, and so our point is who in the world needed a different system?  Google apparently felt all of us did.

Zagat scores were intended to compile a numerical value based on Google’s ability to decipher (read as interpret, or misinterpret, as it were) each review.  In other words, a bot (short for robot, and yes… this means exactly as it sounds) scans the text left by our customers (and yours, if you’re a business owner) and decides for itself how “valuable” they might be.  Our experience has actually shown some of our most favorable reviews to be given low scores, so does anyone want to explain that to us?  If you’re wondering, we reached out to Google… and well, no comment.


What does all of this mean?  We’re glad you asked.  We hope you’ve made it through this blog post and now feel better educated on how this process works.  We want this for you because it makes you a more conscious consumer, but also… make no mistake about it, we’d like your help.  Based on these changes our small business has gone from a 4.5 out of 5 star rating with 179 easy viewable reviews, to a 20 out of 30 (which is less than average) Zagat score with 51 reviews, several of which Google’s bot has scored incorrectly.

If you have a Google account (gmail, YouTube, GoogleDocs, etc), we graciously invite you to follow this link and leave our business a review directly:

CLICK HERE and you’ll find a Royal Blue radio button labeled “Write a review.”

Google will make a decision (by design) to consider your review very important, as it’s been submitted directly through their system.  Bottom line, with the ongoing developments in how we approach local commerce, small businesses NEED Google, period.  We must play by their rules and make the best of what’s available to us.

We greatly appreciate your time, trust, and confidence.  In our nearly 40 years of Community Automotive Repair serving the greater Grand Rapids community we’ve come across and have had to be flexible with countless items of change.  This definitely constitutes one of the most challenging, in terms of the importance we give online correspondence and reputation.

From all of us, to all of you… have a safe and pleasant holiday season.  Regardless of how or where you celebrate, know that we’re very grateful for you.


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Be prepared for the season

12 11 2012

The sky is low, the clouds are mean,
A traveling flake of snow
Across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.

A narrow wind complains all day
How some one treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught
Without her diadem.

~Emily Dickinson

Winter, in and of itself, should not be a time of alarm or heightened anxiety.  In fact, for many, it’s a welcome season fraught with trappings of family lore and traditions.  Whatever it may be to you, it’s wise to at least prepare for how weather conditions change.  To that end, winterizing your vehicle has become a necessary step to assure you’re ready for what Mother Nature throws at you.

This may be obvious to some but others have asked, why is it important to “winterize” their vehicle before the elements arrive.  This is a great question, and one we intend to now address directly.  In short, the frigid temperatures make it more challenging for your engine to operate correctly, at least not without help.  One very common change is your motor oil.  You’ll want to check if your vehicle calls for a thinner motor oil during the colder months.  This is typical because the viscosity (which is the industry term for thickness, or resistance to flow) of the oil itself may prevent the engine from staying adequately lubricated, thereby causing it to potentially overwork.  This will lead to your engine running hotter than normal, something you should avoid whenever possible.

Another very common concern is the vehicle’s starting system.  If you notice when battery companies market their product, they almost always (if not every time) call attention to how the battery will perform in cold weather.  Do you recall all the DieHard commercials that depict a family stranded on the side of the road, with enough drama to suggest something terrible might possibly happen to them?  Right, you got it… paid actors, or not, you never want to put yourself in that situation.  Testing your starter, battery, alternator (read as Charging System) is necessary to guarantee all is within operating specifications.  Rule of thumb here is to give yourself the peace of mind through proactive tests/inspection rather than be forced to react due to a faulty component when it meets snow/ice face to face.

One of the final (and critical) items we’re going to cover here is antifreeze.  This may also seem like common sense, but you’ll want to make certain your coolant (another common term used for antifreeze) mixture accurately matches the manufacturer’s recommendations.  Each vehicle has the likelihood to be a little different so you’ll want to consult your owners manual for specifics.  Basically, you’ll want to avoid adding too much water to your radiator because… brace yourself, this is revolutionary stuff – it will freeze.  Needless to say, you do not want this to happen to you, ever.

OK, while this list is not all inclusive, we’ve touched on some of the most common concerns with winter weather and automobiles.  Incidentally, all of us here at Community Automotive Repair are here to make this seasonal transition very easy for you.  We are currently running a winterization promotion that helps you SAVE $60.00 (normally $100, available for a limited time at $39.95) on this service.  If you’re already a customer of ours (new or older alike) you should already have received a flyer in your mailbox specific to this special.  Just give us a call or schedule an appointment online sometime between now and December 31, 2012, and we’ll take care of it from there.  You have until the end of this year but with something like this, it’s best to take advantage of this offer before the real storms decide to pay a visit.

If you did not receive an offer in the mail, postal or e-mail, we have a few extras here at the shop until they’re gone.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions, related to having your vehicle(s) winterized or otherwise.

Stay safe and warm out there, friends.  We’ll be here when you need us.

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FREE Peace of Mind

6 07 2012

 safety recall

Every car company has “recalls” from time to time. Unfortunately, recalls (repairs for which you, the consumer, don’t have to pay) have to be performed at a dealership to be reimbursed by the manufacturer.

It’s come to our attention that many of our customers are being told by the dealer, in addition to the “recall”, their vehicle needs numerous other repairs that are not covered by the “recall”.

As a customer of Community Automotive Repair, you know we believe in vehicle maintenance, but we also don’t perform unnecessary repairs. We recommend if you get a call while your car is at the dealership with a ‘laundry list of needs’, to thank them for the information and then give us a call for a FREE 2nd opinion.  Our intention is to keep our competition honest and they shouldn’t be offended so long as they’re already behaving with integrity and respect.  This is for your benefit, bottom line.

We will be happy to re-inspect those items at no charge, just give us a call and we will set an appointment at your convenience. With an appointment, we should be able to do this while you wait.

If you’re not able to wait, or you have to leave your car for additional repairs or service, we will even give you a *FREE loaner car just for giving us the opportunity to give you a 2nd opinion.


(*) loaner cars are first come first served, may need to call ahead of time to assure availability



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Spring Auto Care

14 03 2012

While Old Man Winter may still have something to say about it, we’re cautiously excited to usher in Spring.  The sun’s beginning to shine, bulbs are poking through Mother Earth, and music is in the air.  Whether it’s actual sound produced from musical instruments or laughter and healthy energy coming from our neighborhood youth, we believe you’ll agree that it IS good.

LaughFest is in full swing as this is being published, ArtPrize is soon to follow.  Whether these local attractions or ones that take you on the open road are your fancy, we’d like to make sure you arrive (provided you’re driving) safe and sound.  To that end, our friends at AAA Michigan recently composed an article involving Spring Auto Care Tips.  It was on our schedule to offer a similar theme but it makes little sense to duplicate efforts when they’ve already been laid out nicely for you elsewhere.  Here is the entire aforementioned piece, compliments of AAA and Fox News:


While many vehicles are designed to adapt to harsh winter conditions, most are still susceptible to rusting and corrosion caused by being exposed to snow removal substances too long. For this reason alone, it is important that motorists spend the necessary time wiping off snow properly and giving their vehicles a good cleaning.

AAA recommends that motorists do a thorough check under the hood and around in the interior and exterior of their vehicle. Here are a few tips:

• Check the tires – It’s crucial to check your tires after weather changes because tire pressure can fluctuate about 1 pound per square inch for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit change in temperature.

• Rotate the tires – This should be done roughly every 6,000-7,500 miles and it can extend the life of your tires significantly by reducing wear.

• Check the wiper blades – Windshield wipers take a beating during the winter – clearing away dirt, debris and salt spray. Make sure the blades are making full contact with the windshield and have not dried out.

• Change oil and filter – Keep to the manufacturers’ recommendation and change your oil and filter in accordance with the vehicle owners manual. Usually every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

• Change the air filter – Your car’s air filter prevents dust and other debris from getting into the engine’s running parts, meaning less efficient use of gas and weaker engine performance.

• Check the belts and hoses – Winter weather takes a toll on your car’s belts and hoses making them more likely to break. Visibly inspect them for wear. Replace glazed or frayed belts or bulging hoses.

• Check the coolant level – With a cold engine, the radiator should be completely full and the coolant level in the remote reservoir should be at or above the “cold” level marking. Have the system flushed and refilled with fresh coolant at the interval specified in the vehicle owner’s manual. Always top off the system with a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water to avoid altering the antifreeze level.

• Inspect the brake fluid level – If the level has fallen below the “low” mark on the fluid reservoir, it usually indicates major brake wear or a leak somewhere in the system; have the brakes inspected as soon as possible.

• Check battery and plugs – Make sure battery posts and connections are clean. Spark plugs fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles.

• Clean the interior – Residual salt and sand that was brought into the interior of the vehicle can damage floor mats and carpet. Use a hand vacuum to remove dirt and debris from the floor and seats of your vehicle.

• Remove items that may have been used for winter driving – There’s no need to carry sand, shovels and other winter driving “musts” once the snow and ice have melted. Keep your trunk clean to improve gas mileage which can lead to considerable savings at the pump.

• Prepare the interior surfaces and upholstery of your car for more sun exposure – Use a good leather protector to avoid any cracking on leather seats and invest in a product that will help avoid fading cloth interiors.


We’ve recently launched a Spring Auto Care Special that will comprehensively address many of the important items mentioned above.  Appointments are booking quickly so you’ll want to take advantage of this offer as soon as you’re able.  Specific details are as follows:


Change Oil & Filter Using Quality Products
22 Point Safety Inspection
Inspect Tune Up Condition
Inspect and Fill All Fluids
Inspect Steering And Suspension
Inspect Brakes, Front and Rear
Inspect Cooling System, Including Hoses & Belts
Air Conditioning Performance Test
Rotate Tires, If Needed
Consultation Regarding Any Automotive Concerns
A $95.00 VALUE FOR $39.95!
1 offer accepted per vehicle.  Appointment required
Cannot be combined with any other offers.  Expires 04/30/12

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