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Impression of Master Auto Works, Framingham, MA, (a bit long)

 Good Friday morning, Q-list,
   I just had a synth-oil change at Master Auto Works in Framingham, MA, so
I thought I would give my impressions of the shop (they specialize in Audi
repairs/maintenance). They open at 7:30, so I, of course, was there at 7:20.
The owner, Rick, shows up in his, somewhat ancient looking, 4000S at 7:30,
opens the shop, and tells me that he'll have my car in right away. Cool, I'm
heading out for an enormous iced coffee. I return in 10 minutes and he's
just getting it up on the lift.

  So there I am, strategically sitting in the waiting room so I can watch
the proceedings (I noticed that he's wearing latex gloves... first time I've
seen that.) when he comes out, hands me a bottle of Castrol Syntec he's
using and tells me that I may be interested to read the back of the bottle.
Ok, that's another first; I've never known a mechanic, or shop owner, to
consider that the customer might be on the informed side and may care about
what's being done to the car. After he hands me the bottle, he then invites
me out to the garage area by saying, "If you want, you can come out here and
see what's going on while I change the oil." Out I go.

  While the car's been up on the lift, Rick's been going over/under it and
gives me an update: front brake pads probably have another 10K miles; the
tires should not be rotated at this point, or in the future, the rears have
chopped tread at the sidewall and it would be felt if put on the front;
there's a coolant stain indicating a leaking water pump (!!!), but a fluid
level check shows a minor drop, "Not an emergency now, but watch the fluid
level, if it gets low you could be looking at a new pump. There's also the
danger of a slipping timing belt as a result, that's not good." Rick later,
called around to a couple of vendors for a price on a water pump and came
away with  $448 to change the timing belt and water pump. Ouch, but not an
emergency so keep it in mind. Otherwise, Rick said that he was a bit
surprised to see a '92 in such good shape. Hey, it's only got 24k miles on

  When the oil change was complete, the interior was vacuumed, the dashboard
dusted, the bugs wiped off the front bumper, and a loose piece of lower
moulding (by the driver's door) super-glued. All-in-all, not bad for $39.95.
The whole thing took an hour, but that included waiting around for the water
pump price research, and I appreciated the "once over" that my car received.
Personally, I liked the shop and the friendly atmosphere, and it was nice to
see a shop that actually specializes in Audi, not all Euro makes (of which
the Audi's always seem to be at the bottom of the list. Why is that, because
of US sales volume?)

  When I was leaving, I asked Rick what his labor rate is, $51.73. Weird,
huh? Rick explained that the labor rate was arrived at by a mathematical
formula that takes into consideration various labor rates in the area. Rick
also explained that his technicians are ASE certified, the shop uses OEM
products, they're an Alldata shop, they are sent to CA for yearly training,
and they are Audi specialists in business for the last 15 years, so he
thought the labor rate was extremely fair. Seems ok to me, definitely not
fire sale, but fair.

  By the time I left there, in the parking lot was a 90Q, a 5000CST, another
4000S, and a Porsche 944S. Rick said it was a slow day.

  Damn! I just realized I forgot to ask about a Q-list discount. Maybe I'll
call back, they've heard of the Q-list, who'd be interested, anyone besides
me and Alan Breitman?

Sean Ford
sean@nwh.org                              '92 Audi 100CS 5spd 24K mi
Newton-Wellesley Hospital      '89 Suzuki Katana 600 14K mi
Newton, MA  02162 (USA)