Car Care and Character

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Las Vegas, a city that has plenty of auto repair shops, many of which specialize in high-end and classic vehicles, has its share of unqualified and unscrupulous auto mechanics. However, there are always a few good soldiers in any industry and one of them is business owner Brent Kitchen, owner of Rebel Towing and R.T. Automotives.

The company is a factory-authorized warranty repair station for a broad range of top-level limousine manufacturers, such as Tiffany, Krystal, Executive Coachworks, Federal Coachworks and Starcraft. Big name, well-respected manufacturers are selective about the companies with which they entrust and associate their brand names. Kitchen says he doesn’t know of any other limo repair shop in Southern Nevada that is larger or broader in scope.

So then, how does that affect the individual who needs his automobile diagnosed or repaired?

R.T. Automotives is a trusted service company for all types of vehicles. In Kitchen’s business, it means that a person can get a fair estimate up front on what the car needs, and R.T. Automotives honors customers’ requests to have the old parts provided to them. His business doesn’t play repair-shop hide-and-seek.

Kitchen has been a Las Vegas resident for about 20 years with a long history in business. Prior to moving here from Salt Lake City, Utah, he owned another towing and repair shop. R.T. Automotives prides itself on superior knowledge and top-notch customer service.

Initially, when Kitchen was driving limos in Las Vegas in 1998 and fixing his own, he was often asked by others to help with their repairs. That prompted him to open his own repair and towing businesses locally in 2001.

“We got so large that we needed a bigger building with Rebel Towing, and that’s when I opened R.T. Automotives.”

Kitchen says that auto mechanics should keep up their education on the latest technologies and designs in engines and service methods. He insists that his staff mechanics go a step further in order to make customers feel at ease, to know that a part will only be replaced if it’s bad and when it needs replacement.

“A lot of it is reading and research to have the knowledge in repairing the problem,” stated Kitchen. “I want to know that the part is bad before I replace it and that it’s the part that’s causing the problem,” he added.

I can attest to his integrity, recently, I was referred to him to check out my car. He did a thorough check, filled all the fluids, checked all the hoses and did not even charge me for the courtesy service. He gave a diagnosis and told me when I would need to tend to any matters, but he didn’t try to force me to make any repairs right then since they weren’t needed.

Kitchen’s philosophy: “My morals and values control me over the money. I can’t steal; I’d rather make a little money all the time and get a good night’s sleep than making one big pile of money.”

Kitchen gives tips to car owners on how to find a reputable auto repair shop. He suggests checking their record with the Better Business. Ultimately, Kitchen says, “If you have any doubts always get a second opinion.”

One important step when researching a repair company or any other business is checking if they have unresolved complaints with the Better Business Bureau. Always, when possible, pay your bill with a credit card because there is automatic consumer recourse in the event of faulty or fraudulent service. You can dispute the charge and the credit card company (not always the case if it’s a debit card or bank check card) will allow for disputes.

He emphasized that it’s best to know your rights after you have checked out a company’s reputation and chose to use that repair shop.

Kitchen says you should:

(1) Know your rights under the law and make sure you are dealing with a shop that honors consumer protection laws.

(2) Make sure the business is registered with the state by looking for the certificate displayed from the Department of Business and Industry. The certificate protects the customer by allowing them to file charges with the state in the event of fraudulent repairs and illegal practices by the auto shop.

(3) Assert your right to a written estimate; to read and receive all documents signed; to inspect all replaced parts and accessories whether covered by warranty or not.

(4) Use you right to review a completed statement.

(5) Demand a fair resolution in the event of disputes arising from the repair work done because it’s your right.

Maintain your car according to the owner’s manual and always keep all service records – even general upkeep, like oil and filter changes. This could improve the car’s resale value, to prove how well it was maintained.

For more consumer tips for car owners, call the U.S. Department of Transportation Auto Safety Hotline toll-free at 800-424-9393 or got to their website, www.nhtsa.gov for online fact sheets and advice.

On another highly relevant topic, Kitchen spoke about the trends in alternative fueled vehicles and gasoline economy in light of the rising fuel costs.

At this stage, he suggests that consumers should exercise some caution before getting overly enthusiastic about battery-operated and hybrid vehicles. He suggests that families considering a car for the adults or their children simply buy a fuel efficient gas powered car and drive sensibly to conserve fuel until the new technologies are more developed, problems are resolved and alternative fueled autos are more cost efficient.

“To just dump your car to get into hybrid, I wouldn’t recommend it,” said Kitchen. “Look at the iPod,” he used as an example, “It came out a year ago and everybody had to have one. Now you look and you have a whole new generation of iPods that are twice as good and cost half as much.”

For top fuel efficiency on your existing vehicle, good repair service and good driving habits help greatly.