Allow me to recommend Catonsville Engine and Transmission, at the intersection of Edmondson Avenue and Harlem Avenue in Catonsville, run by Rose and Matt, a wonderful married couple. They're a remarkably good mechanic, they understand that it's better to treat a customer well and have their happy business for years than to be shady to get a quick buck.
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One time, by mistake, I was triple-billed for an oil change. (I was there when the mistake took place; the person who normally works the register wasn't there, and the machine was clearly not working correctly.) Even so, a month later, when I brought the problem up as I was going in for a major repair, they took a hundred dollars off of my bill instead of just the forty-five dollars I was owed.
Another time, my gear shifter wasn't working quite properly. Matt told me I could either have the problem fixed perfectly for one price, or I could have a jury rig that was still perfectly safe, just less pretty, for one third the cost. I went for the proper repair, but I'm glad to know that I'm not going to wander into their shop only to have them invent three more problems to get a bigger bill.
Whenever I bring my car in with a problem, they take the time to show me what parts need replacing and to explain how they work.
They sometimes give discounts to students and regular customers. They're on the UMBC Shuttle Catonsville line, so they're very accessible for UMBC students.
I have friends, a married couple, who take their cars to Catonsville Engine and Trans as well. They've been given complimentary towing. They thought that Rose just managed the books, until she rebuilt the transmission on one of their cars.
When my roommate drove me to Catonsville Engine and Trans, I was telling him about how much I favor them. When we actually got there, he was surprised, because the place looks run down, the parking lot is crowded and poorly paved, the garage is an old warehouse. I'd forgotten how off-putting the appearance is, because the quality of service is so good.
I'm not generally in favor of keeping mom-and-pop businesses in business. Yes, Barnes and Noble has less character than a local bookstore, but I am more likely to find what I'm looking for there. Aside from restaurants and coffee shops, Catonsville Engine and Trans is the only local business that I would miss if they were put out of business by a chain.
You can call them at 410-744-4822.