Fixing cars on a budget

By ROBERT MYERS Sports Editor


 Automobiles, most of us have them, but due to our all too common status as broke college students, they often aren’t the newest cars on the block; therefore, occasionally require a trip to the repair shop. 

Students tend to gravitate towards two places when in need of service for their cars: Wal-Mart for their oil changes and Hometown Service & Tire for repairs and tires.

Wal-Mart’s auto center won the most votes for the second consecutive year in the oil change category. Though they do not keep track of the demographics of their business, they estimate that about 20 percent of the oil changes they perform are for college students. 

Beyond their pricing which they believe to be a great value, they also boast about the speed and quality of service they provide. 

“We offer a 15-point inspection with each oil change, airing up the tires for free,” said former auto zone supervisor Andrew Warren. “And even if you’re not getting an oil change, we’ll air up your tires for you. So that tends to bring people back to us.” 

Warren,currently the entertainment zone supervisor, went on to say they don’t do a lot of advertising beyond what is done by Wal-Mart as a whole and that special deals can be seen in the store’s weekly flyers. 

Hometown Service & Tire came on strong in the past year to steal votes that had gone to other businesses in town last year and owner Tim Jensen said he has noticed an increase in business from college students. 

“I get a lot of calls from the parents,” Jensen said. “We just treat them nice, make sure they get taken care of. We communicate as well as we can with the parents. After that it’s been a lot of referrals, students talking to students.”

Jensen went on to say that referrals play a larger role in bringing in new college students than advertising, which he says is not a focus for them with regards to the student demographic. He also cites Hometown Service & Tire’s website as something that makes them stand out to prospective customers. 

Not everyone worries about getting their car needs taken care of in town. Some students like sophomore history major Luke Serbus like to perform their own repairs and maintenance. 

“I just do everything at home,” Serbus said. “We have enough stuff there to get it done. If not, I buy it at a store and then fix it myself. It’s just cheaper that way.”

Other students like sophomore English major Alex Morlan choose to have their repairs and maintenance done at home.

“I’m from Nebraska, so I don’t normally get my car serviced here,” Morlan said. “It’s easier to get it done at home where I know the mechanics and what to expect.”