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Friday, 24 April 2020 17:43

Auto Repair in the Time of COVID-19

Written by Barry Lank, The Eastsider
Auto Repair in the Time of COVID-19 Courtesy Luis Lopez Automotive


At JT Mechanic & Body Shop in Lincoln Heights, an L.A. neighborhood, customers need to wear masks when dropping off their car.

In Atwater Village, customers at Luis Lopez Automotive park their car, roll down the window and leave the keys inside before a mechanic takes a look. And that's just for an oil change.


"I’ll be frank with you," said owner Luis Lopez. "It's pretty tedious."


Though still open as an essential business, auto repair shops are facing the same tough times as other businesses---though with factors unique to service stations, such as the business cycle and the personal nature of cars. 


Lily Tang, manager at JT Mechanic, said her business is now down to about 15% of normal, and the shop has been gradually cutting down on its hours. Parts suppliers are also reducing hours, according to Lopez. 


As for money, April is usually a good month for the car repair business, according to Yoel Iribe, manager at Highland Auto Repair in Highland Park.


"We were expecting to be booming around tax time," Iribe said. "People have a little more money to spend on their cars."


In fact, things were looking great for Lopez as recently as February, when his garage returned to use after being rented for five or six months for filming the Netflix series "Hollywood."


"The first week we were back, it was wonderful," Lopez said. "Business was hopping."


Then, suddenly, it wasn’t.


Lopez said he is applying for a Payroll Protection Program loan. Beyond that, all he and the other businesses can do it try to survive through the end of the quarantine.

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