Auto fixation 

Jason Peters
Credit: Shannon Cornman

Then life changed for both men; Shade Tree D.I.Y. Garage was born.

“We’re not like the normal auto shop,” Duong said. “Here, we’ll put it on a lift and point out why it failed, what that failure means and what possible effects it could have.”

It’s a process, he noted, that gives customers “a better feel for not getting scammed.”

Shade Tree offers full-service and do-it-yourself options. Rather than working on cars all day, the mechanic is there to teach customers how to do it themselves.

For $20 an hour, a customer receives access to a vehicle lift, a workbench and a basic, 300-piece tool set.

For help with the how-to of repair, consultation with the mechanic and WiFi access are included.

Clients have the option to turn the work over to the mechanic, for $60 an hour. Most metro shops charge between $75 and $120 per hour, according to Duong, who manages a 15,000-square-foot space at 1118 S.W. Third. Peters recently moved to Florida to expand their franchise model.

A veteran of the Air Force, Peters modeled Shade Tree after the kind of DIY garage he found on military bases.

Duong said customers have been satisfied thus far.

“They leave feeling empowered that they fixed their own car, and they know the work is done right because they did it themselves,” he said.

Chad Perth first heard about Shade Tree on local radio.

“I thought it was really cool,” said Perth, an electronics technician. “It’s hard to give up the cash to buy all the tools and lifts, and be able to do that kind of work at your house.”

Initially, Perth brought his Chevy Tahoe in for an oil change. That led to fixing his brakes.

When faced with a bigger problem, the intake manifold gasket, he didn’t try to tackle it himself. But he said the knowledge he picked up at Shade Tree came in handy when he got his SUV professionally serviced.

“Give it a shot on something simple before you just write it off and take it to a mechanic,” Perth said. “A lot of stuff you do, especially regular maintenance, isn’t crazy complex. It just feels complicated because when you go to the mechanic, they make you feel like it’s complicated.”

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