Gretchen’s Automotive, August 11, 2016

Back in the spring of 2002 I had gotten myself out of debt and had accumulated enough cash that I could actually think of making a down payment on a house. I drove my car up to the Mt. Baldy ski area for a day hike, and when I returned to my car it would not start. Having no other options available I had it towed in to the nearest Pep Boys. They checked it, said the timing belt had failed, and replaced that. Since they were already working on the car (1995 Dodge Neon Sport Coupe) I also had them do a tune-up on the car.

Fast forward a couple of days, and on my way home from work there was a loud bang and a lot of smoke from the engine compartment. On investigation it turned out that one of the spark plugs had blown out of the engine, an event that ruined the engine and required me to spend almost $3000 to have it replaced. That both set me back a bit on my plan to move to Long Beach and highlighted the importance of having a mechanic and a repair shop that one can trust.

Happily, just a few months after I moved to Long Beach one of my good friends, Todd Kelm, opened up a repair shop in town and I was his very first customer. Since then I have had an easy answer to any question about where to go for automobile service, and that answer is Gretchen’s Automotive. Yesterday I needed to take my car in for routine servicing. I arrived at 7:30, had to wait about 10 minutes until the service writer appeared, left the car, went for a walk, and got a call just after 10 letting me know that my car was finished; that kind of service turnaround is par for the course at Gretchen’s. When I was still working I would drop my car in the morning and would be given a ride to work on the other side of town, and when it was done I would be picked up and delivered back to the shop. That kind of service makes life much easier!


When Todd’s not out tooling around in the Gretchen’s racing boat, a boat which has done quite well over the years in the Catalina Ski Race with Todd at the helm, he runs a very tight ship at Gretchen’s. The shop is thriving, and the reason for that success is the repeat business generated by the friendly and reliable service it provides. It’s great to have a master mechanic in the family!


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