S & R Service Center πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ†πŸ† A mechanic’s mechanic. Vista, CA


S & R Service Center

If a mechanic is looking for a good mechanic, they find Niko, owner and operator of S & R Service Center in Vista, CA.

Niko has taken on this business a short time ago, as it was an existing Honda, Toyota and Acura specialty shop that was never really particularly specialized. S & R Service Center was, and still is, a general automotive repair shop; that, if anything, now has a specialty in repairing any make and model of automobile with a specialty in custom hot rods and high-performance automotive modifications. When you look in Niko’s garage, you’ll often find older custom hot rods on one of the racks waiting for modification in between his regular newer make and model automobile maintenance customers.

I have been working on my own cars since my first car at the age of 16. It was a 1963 VW bug that I have a fond affinity for to this day. The bug is long gone but I still have two other classic VWs from the same era. I was also an aircraft mechanic in the Navy for 20 years and have been maintaining and repairing my own cars for at least as long. I am older now and have reduced the amount I work on my own vehicles; whether it be because I don’t like lifting 35” tires while doing a tire rotation or brake job, or whether I don’t have the desire or time to take my recyclable waste oil to a processing vendor or facility. Some regular maintenance requirements are just easier to have Niko perform them. Some maintenance and repair jobs are too large for me to handle, and that again is where Niko steps in.

As many of us have, I have in the past utilized dealership repair facilities for warranty repairs and regular maintenance while still within the warranty period of a new car. Many of us may choose to have our automobile maintenance and repairs done by a dealership, and perhaps there is a good reason to do so. Like the dealerships may have the necessary special tools, specialty equipment or technical support to properly fix your newer model car. But the dealer has never had my best interest in mind. That’s where Niko and S & R Service Center has changed the pace.

Having a rattle under my car when at highway speeds had me asking Niko to look around for a loose component while the car was on the service rack. Niko found a necessary bracket had come loose. The bracket was held to the gas tank by a small plastic clip that had been sheered off by road debris. Since the bracket was necessary to protect the plastic fuel cell (it did what it was supposed to do) the bracket need to be reinstalled, but couldn’t because the small plastic clip was now missing from the tank. A dealer, who makes money by 1) the service writer makes a percentage of the service sale; 2) the mechanic gets hourly rates based on job flat rates established in a service manual; 3) the parts department gets full retail price for the part; 4) the dealership makes money from everything. To have replaced the necessary protective bracket that was rattling would have cost me nearly $2000 dollars at the dealership because the fuel tank would have needed to be replaced to hold its own protective bracket. Niko pointed out the necessity for the bracket and a logical repair for keeping the fuel cell protected should another unfortunate incident where road debris comes into contact with the fuel tank. Niko installed the bracket with a quick placement of a high strength retainer strap in about 30 seconds while the vehicle was already up on the rack. He saved me a ton of money and I was back out on the track/road in quick fashion. That’s the kind of service Niko provides . . . customer service.

Niko truly is a mechanic’s mechanic. Read below for my other reviews of Niko and S & R Service Center.

Dicks

S & R Service Center

1/8/2019

Niko at S&R still doing what Niko does . . . keeps ’em runnin’ so I can keep goin’.

Recently had my wife’s Honda Odyssey in for shock and strut replacement just before a long road trip. Niko also inspected the entire vehicle, topped off the necessary fluids and tested the vehicle for road worthiness, giving a thumbs up for our drive early the next morning. Our trip went smooth (new shocks) and without any mechanical issues. A big thumbs up and thanks for taking care of us.

Then just yesterday I had my big F250 in for an oil change and 35″ tire rotation. Some stuff I just don’t feel like doing anymore and Niko was there to keep this old guy moving down the road. Niko also recommended my next services upon my return next time.

A damn fine and trustworthy mechanic.

Dicks

S & R Service Center

11/29/2018

I found Niko by Yelping ‘Honda, Acura Specialist’ and this place shows up as “Acura and Honda Independent Service”. I decided to see about an independent mechanic since I realized I had no longer felt ties to any dealership after our extended warrantee had finally run out. This was the first time, at 120K miles that we needed to address several issues on an awesome vehicle we fully plan to keep for 400K miles.

I stopped by the next day and talked with Niko, and to schedule an appointment for a number of things now that Niko had better confirmed the price I would be paying. So I got the front brakes replaced with fluid change, the Honda timing belt kit replaced, the power steering pump replaced and one fog lamp bulb replaced. All for right at $1700.

Niko is not old. Niko is not fat. Niko is a motivated young man doing something not new to him. I think he saw an opportunity to take his years of working hard for someone else, and saw the money that could be made owning the business for himself, in just a way that doesn’t make his customers feel hustled, rather . . . informed. Bottom line, I got a lot of work for a very reasonable price. Niko recommended a service for my timing belt to be changed. A swift research into the opportunity found myself addressing that potential failure and I agreed to have the work performed by Niko at a modest price.

You see, I am also a 20 year aircraft mechanic that has always done my own auto repairs and maintenance but I am just too damn old to be climbing around cars and trucks lifting 35″ wheels and tires to do a brake job. Hell, with today’s vehicles lasting well above 200K miles, warrantees are running out and I’m getting tired. I needed a mechanic around to take the place of my kids. The kids are mostly gone now and I have a few projects in the garage to keep my personal interest, but some of the other stuff I’ll just pay to have a young eager mechanic…still willing to learn, to work on my cars and trucks.

Since my first visit I had also taken my 2011 F250 Diesel truck for Niko to work on. He admits my truck is just about the biggest vehicle he has capability for, but still promised to do some work I was looking to get accomplished. He performed flawlessly the same day and it proved to be valuable since the next morning we took it on a round trip some 1500 miles later for the Thanksgiving holiday.

I’m already planning on my next repair work to be performed by Niko. I have also recommended him to several family and friends.

He’ll be getting plenty of work from me and probably several referrals to boot. There’s a lot of us retired military that share similar passions about our vehicles, but are getting too retired to do it any more.

Give Niko a try.

Dicks

S & R Service Center

6/11/2018

I’m not going to give these guys any less than 5 stars for now. However, there are still many details of business this young, capable mechanic still needs to capture.

The first thing is just who is this guy, Niko? His story goes a little something like this; . . . with capabilities learned in the industry without formal education, however the determination to succeed on his street-car (Escondido’s Cruisin Grand stuff) smarts had him deciding to grab an expensive opportunity of having his own shop. With the story that follows, please look for a young, not fat guy, named Niko.

I found Niko by Yelping ‘Honda, Acura Specialist’ and this place shows up as “Acura and Honda Independent Service”. And, as I had just recently left the Honda dealership in Escondido with some shifty stuff playing out with them, I decided to see about an independent mechanic. I realized I had no longer felt ties to any dealership after our extended warrantee had finally run out. This was the first time, at 120K miles that we needed to address several issues on an awesome vehicle we fully plan to keep for 400K miles.

I had initially been chasing a first Honda dealership quote from 2017 of around $700 dollars what was now $1200 exactly a year later. That was ok since I had set aside $2000 for the replacement of the power steering pump. I did a little research and decided not to do the job myself . . . and not to go tot he dealership. I spoke to Niko and he said the $700 was on his high end, and that’s if he really needs to replace the pump . . . may just be the hose.

I stopped by the next day and talked with Niko, and to schedule an appointment for a number of things now that Niko had better confirmed the price I would be paying. So I got the front brakes replaced with fluid change, the Honda timing belt kit replaced, the power steering pump replaced and one fog lamp bulb replaced. All for right at $1700.

But after talking with a very friendly Niko and signing the couple of papers that go with getting your car fixed, I think I found out just what it is that this Niko kid had purchased. Niko’s biggest struggle being what to do with everything and all of the various names and pseudo-names of his business that he is struggling with. Niko said he bought this place from an old fat guy. I guess the old fat guy used to just barely turn in a day’s hard work and has all of his accounts mixed up and whatnot. This business falls unto many different names.

Niko is not old. Niko is not fat. Niko is a motivated young man doing something not new to him. I think he saw an opportunity to take his years of working hard for someone else, and saw the money that could be made owning the business for himself, in just a way that doesn’t make his customers feel hustled, rather . . . informed. Bottom line, I got a lot of work for a very reasonable price. A very reasonable price. Niko recommended a service for my timing belt to be changed. A swift research into the opportunity found myself addressing that potential failure and I agreed to have the work performed by Niko at a modest price.

I also needed brakes on the vehicle. He just replaced them with the Akebono brand he was recommending, at a much better price than most service centers will just ‘reline’ the disks, or whatever they call it. He also replaced the brake fluid in the system as well upon my request to do so at the same time.

Having now realized that I keep forgetting to drop off a light bulb that I have been waiting to install, Niko gladly replaced the bulb with a factory replacement at no charge since he was already under the vehicle. Another nice gesture of things he kept throwing in except the nice O’reilly auto parts oil change thingy inside the driver’s windshield; just after Niko had talked sternly and convincingly about not using cheap parts from places like, “O’reilly”. I think he should get rid of those if he is not in support of the business . . . then again, what is he telling me as his customer?

You see, I am also a 20 year aircraft mechanic that has always done my own auto repairs and maintenance but I am just too damn old to be climbing around cars and trucks lifting 35″ wheels and tires to do a brake job. Hell, with today’s vehicles lasting well above 200K miles, warrantees are running out and I’m getting tired. I needed a mechanic around to take the place of my kids. The kids are mostly gone now and I have a few projects in the garage to keep my personal interest, but some of the other stuff I’ll just pay to have a young eager mechanic…still willing to learn, to work on my cars and trucks.

Looks like he’ll be getting plenty of work from me and probably several referrals to boot. There’s a lot of us retired military that share similar passions about our vehicles, but are getting too retired to do it any more.

Give Niko a try.

Dicks

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