This story was originally published in the Chicago Tribune Prime Time senior living section.
If you’re too young to remember the days of house calls, you now have a chance to experience them. Or at least your car does.
Many auto repair, auto cleaning and emergency service companies are happy to come to you at home and work on your vehicle. These personalized mobile services were designed for convenience. You may even find yourself paying less than traditional service providers because of low overhead.
All in the detailing
That’s exactly what one older gentleman did who lived in a Downers Grove retirement community and wanted his ride cleaned up.
Paul Kludac, owner of Detail Kings, a car detailing service based in Downers Grove, answered the call. He was happy to come out and get the WWII veteran’s car detailed.According to Kludac, they ended up becoming friends. “Later on Veterans Day I went to his community and had breakfast with him and other residents, some of whom spoke about their wartime experiences. I thought it was awesome,” Kludac says. “I talked about my experience in the Marine Corps.”
Detail Kings is a big operation for a detail shop, with 50 employees. Its bread and butter comes from setting up shop in parking lots on pre-arranged days. “We bring our own water and electricity and detail cars all day,” Kludac says.
They also will pick up and drop off vehicles that need cleaning — location and schedule permitting. Occasionally they will do a driveway job.Detailing is surprisingly affordable, with a hand wash and interior cleaning starting at $25. True detailing runs between $100 and $300.
Many routine auto maintenance and repairs can be done in your own garage by professional mechanics who come to you. How do you find one?That is precisely why entrepreneur Arun Simon created Otobots, based in Oak Brook. Otobots is not a repair shop. Instead, Otobots finds the best mechanic for your service, helps you attain a good quote, book an appointment, make the payments, and get your car fixed in your chosen location.“We are removing the inconvenience related to auto repair,” Simon says.
Customers can call for service or use the website, otobots.com. Once they receive and accept the quote, they can make an appointment pay by credit card, and the technician shows up at the appointed date and time.
“If they need a diagnosis, or they hear a funny noise in their car, we have $80 fee for diagnostics. The technician can provide a quote on the spot if the customer wants to proceed they can,” Simon explains.Driveway mechanic services are great for things like routine maintenance, fluid, brakes, oil changes, batteries, sensors, and wiring issues, Simon says.
Otobots don’t do wheel alignments and major transmission work or body work, which cannot be done in a mobile setup.Even if you do not know the make and model of your car, Otobots can trace it through the license plate number so the technician has the right parts and oil when he shows up.
“Cars vary, but we have a regular oil change for $39.99 for up to five quarts. Prices are competitive, because we don’t have a brick-and-mortar store,” Simon says.Simon started Otobots because “I was working nine to five and couldn’t find a shop open after five or six o’clock, and weekends were too busy. For seniors, it’s a no brainer, because people hate waiting in a repair shop and want to minimize driving.”
What if you go out to your car in the morning and your battery’s dead, then you realize you forgot to renew your auto club membership?
Try HONK-ing. HONK is a pay-as-you-go emergency service that will come to your location starting at $35 to jump a dead battery. According to the company, HONK users get help in half the time it would take other services to deliver assistance, sometimes in as little as 15-30 minutes. You can use HONK via the free smartphone app, or request help via honkforhelp.com. HONK also helps with lockouts, empty gas tanks, flat tires and tows via its 45,000 partner companies. The person coming to assist you will call you personally to confirm as soon as you complete your order online.