Dowagiac Auto offering Christmas repair to customer
Published 8:00 am Thursday, December 17, 2015
Be it fixing a clunking transmission or a leaking oil reservoir, the costs of repairing the wear-and-tear of one’s automobile can add up — especially during the costly holiday season.
For one lucky customer of Dowagiac Auto Service, cutting a check to get their vehicle fixed before Christmas is one task they won’t have to worry about.
In what’s become a holiday tradition for the for local auto repair shop, the staff will gift some free repair work for a special customer early next week, just before Christmas. Whether it’s a simple tune-up or a costly brake replacement job, the crew will completely service a selected person’s car gratis, said owner Gary Belardinella.
“I usually look for someone who’s a little hard up,” Belardinella said. “I take a look at what’s wrong with their car, and based on what they need, we’ll do whatever we can to help them.”
Dowagiac residents in dire need of car work or who know someone who does are encouraged to write a letter and deliver it to their location at 57748 M-51, or to contact the store at (269) 782-5643.
Belardinella has been offering the special holiday present to his cash-strapped customers for the past eight years at his other store, Granger’s Bittersweet Automotive Repair, usually picking out a customer who frequents the shop and could use some help during the giving season, he said.
“It’s Christmas time, and many people don’t have a lot of money to spare,” Belardinella said. “It’s either don’t fix the car or don’t get the kids presents this year.”
The owner usually prioritizes customers who have issues that could present a safety risk, such as problems with brake systems or vehicles with faulty tires.
The Granger resident carried over this practice of giving back from his Granger shop after taking over ownership of Dowagiac Auto Service last year. Last December, he and his staff elected to help a woman who had been coming to them for help throughout the year, performing around $700 worth of repairs to fix her vehicle’s radiator system, Belardinella said.
As to be expected, customers who learn they’ll be getting such expensive and critical work given to them for absolutely nothing are ecstatic to learn the news, the owner said. He and his staff have been given everything from hugs to a free puppy for their holiday generosity, Belardinella said.
“It makes you feel good,” he said. “To know that some little kid will be getting present who otherwise might not have, it just warms my heart.”
The staff plans to on selecting which customer will receive the free repair work next Tuesday, Dec. 22.