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Old 08-09-2018, 12:14 PM   #51
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Location: SW FL * PNW * New England
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Some PNW area additions below ... AND request for recommendation for Seattle area 90-100k tune-up (esp to replace spark plugs affordably, and *knowledgeably*, given the 2000 Ford E-350 spark plug threading/breaking challenges. I don't mind driving a bit out of the way for excellent affordable work, esp for mechanics amenable to educating me along the way.

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Originally Posted by ANZAC View Post
A bit of a drive from Bellingham but Auburn Off Road are great guys, just did some brake work for me.
1. "Auburn Car Repair and Offroad" also did good work for me (though overcharged) when I visited them for advice on improving steering stability and perhaps installing a RedHead steering box (manufactured in their neighborhood).

On my initial drive from SanFrancisco van pick-up to Seattle, the van was pushed all over the lane by a bit of wind, or a passing truck, and/or highway curves at highway speeds. I knew the steering box needed replacing (if you're of the opinion that these boxes shouldn't be 'adjusted' when things loosen up). Auburn Off Road diagnosed and Replaced my track bar bushings and tightened the bolts on the Pitman arm, which noticeably improved steering wander. They did it while I waited, but charged me two hours instead of the verbally-quoted one hour (total bill $273, probably including WA state 10% tax, but can't remember). I questioned it, but didn't have the presence of mind to push back in the moment. Still, I didn't return to them a week later when I decided definitely to go with the RedHead.

2. ALSO RECOMMENDED, "Dave's Valley Auto" in Auburn, WA installed my Red Head Steering Box, and had done several of them, given they're only a couple miles away from RedHead. They were familiar with the unit and the potentially cumbersome procedure (especially for out-of-town shops) of returning the replaced unit to RedHead so I could get my deposit back immediately. I knew of the QA issues associated with RedHeads (and a couple seattle mechanics wouldn't install them any more after annoying time-consuming incidents). Dave's Valley Auto gave me confidence in driving across country immediately with a theoretically potentially troublesome RedHead by explaining their nation-wide support/warranty arrangement, how to follow-up if I had a problem, and how to monitor the RedHead for a leaky seal (the main QA issue). As it happens, the RedHead improved steering wander greatly, and was in great shape, no leaks, one year and 13k miles later when it was professionally inspected (at another great shop, SW Florida 4x4, a couple miles from my home in Bonita Springs, FL of all places ... post to come later on them).
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Old 08-09-2018, 12:41 PM   #52
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Boulder Off Road in Erie, CO has been great for me. They understand Sportsmobiles with Quigley 4x4 kits.
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Old 08-09-2018, 01:25 PM   #53
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ATLANTA AREA FORD MECHANIC -> Ford Performance Specialists
If you're looking for Ford (gas or diesel) work near Atlanta, GA, I have a new fave mechanic (for those times I'm driving out of Florida in a generally NW direction ;-). I found this guy on Transfer Flow's list of certified installers, simply because I preferred to find a mechanic *familiar* with the systems to help me diagnose a semi-related possible safety issue (mild gas fumes smell only when PUMP ON from Aux to Main tank), not because I expected or needed him to service or even diagnose my other Transfer Flow system issues (topic for a different thread). Yelpers, esp ford diesel guys or performance SHO types loved Doug and considered him very affordable. Anyway, I feel completely confident recommending (as do many Yelpers), Doug, proprietor of:

Ford Performance Specialists Inc.
351 Six Flags Pkwy SW, Mableton, GA. 770-949-7191, https://www.mabletonautorepairservices.com/
Doug $95/hr. $500 spark plugs. 20 yrs in bus. Great educator!

Though he (actually his one assistant) only did an oil change ($35 for my V10, $125 for a diesel though) and a safety inspection addressing my particular questions, he responded spectacularly to my statement that I wanted to learn how best to care for the vehicle and learn as much as possible to monitor issues, respond in the field, etc. He spent at least an hour, over the course of my visit, just answering my questions, recommending best practices w/justifications, and providing a lot of technical detail to educate me on the whys and wherefors. He brought me in for another 10-15 minutes at the end with my van on the lift to point out a bunch of stuff, ID-ing components (I'm a noob), identifying seeps/leaks to watch, and which to leave alone until some other symptom (or check engine light) alerted me to the actual need for service, etc. I would have had him do my spark plugs (at $500), but he'd already squeezed me in last minute on that Friday and didn't have time.

All in all, his safety inspection with my particular points of interest resulted in his walkthru and:
- No *liquid* gas leaks/drips found (comforting!); Verified he smelled gas fumes too, during PMP ON. Said I need a vapor check to find it but ok-ed driving with it (which I had been doing for 15k miles). He hypothesized that maybe the charcoal cylinders/filters are saturated?
- Cooling systems (OK).
- Exhaust Manifold Studs (1 missing, don't service until I hear the 'clicking' of exhaust leak),
- Power Steering (OK, slow leak/seep of Transmission fluid; wait until there's a problem),
- Quigley Rear drivetrain / pumpkin after backing into tire-sized ditch (fine, can't hurt it).
- General Advice: CEL, or poor function, will tell you when work is needed; else wait to fix. Change oil every 3000 (frequency way more important than type of oil, supported with personal anecdotes ;-). Get tune-up @ 80k.

He ended up charging me an hour of time plus oil/oil filter parts cost ($21) which I considered money well spent for my goals and purposes, and the convenience of getting on this busy shop's schedule. [He'd had a Ford E-350 Quigley diesel on his lift the day I called for an appt.]

Why did I seek out service in Mableton, GA? I was hitting the road from SW FL to Seattle this past July, after finally having the chance to get organized and research/address some of my less urgent van issues or simply check/monitor some of those things (eg, rotting exhaust manifold studs) I'd been warned about on 2000 Ford E-350 V10s. I didn't have time for another round of service in FL, so checked out Transfer Flow installers along my route. Many TF installers aren't mechanic shops, so this guy stood out, esp given excellent user reviews. He amazingly squeezed me in on a days notice for Oil Change and 'safety inspection.'
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