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Old 01-13-2010, 12:40 AM
 
Location: MidCoast Maine
476 posts, read 689,757 times
Reputation: 312

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Hey Everyone,
We currently own a 1990 Suzuki Samurai that we just can't bear to part with, and are seriously contemplating a move to the Central Coast area (from Southern California). I realize it's kind of a rare bird, but does anyone have any thoughts on the availability of good garages in the area that would service this 4x4 as the need may arise?
Another vehicle that we are looking into would be buying a new Suzuki SX4 crossover (all wheel drive) as an additional vehicle. It appears that the nearest actual Suzuki dealer is in Augusta, which might be do-able, but any closer service options? Or should we stay with the more commonly sold vehicle which would be to go for a Subaru Forester. We also have a GMC Canyon 4X4, but I don't see too much problem finding good, local service for that particular truck.
Thanks for your insight! You guys Rock!
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Old 01-13-2010, 04:02 AM
 
Location: Maine's garden spot
3,392 posts, read 6,559,369 times
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A lot of the small, local, independent shops are quite good. There should be a local person that could handle working on the suzie. The Subaru is a very reliable vehicle and there are a ton of them around up here.
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Old 01-13-2010, 06:43 AM
 
Location: Waldo County
1,220 posts, read 3,713,657 times
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When you get here you will want to look around and check out a lot of different repair shops. Auto repair shops abound in Maine, and there are some really professional independent mechanics and really high quality repair shops that do first rate work. Most of the first rate shops are NOT at the franchised dealers because most dealers can't afford to spend the money on continuation training for mechanics AND pay them enough to keep them in their shops for a long time. And obviously, if you do not live in the one of the two or three towns that actually have a dealer in Maine, then you need to be prepared to drive a long way for service.

When you check out local repair shops you will need to inquire what the level of training is of the mechanics who work in the shops. There are a lot of shops that are one man operations, and of those a few are really first line mechanics and far too many are just guys who work for themselves for a wage as opposed to working for someone else for a wage.

You will want to find out about the computer diagnostic equipment that the shop has. EVERY car sold for the past twenty five years or so has a computer terminal in the engine compartment, and the servicing tech begins to diagnosis problems by plugging the car in. T he computer than reads the computer codes on the car's central computer and a diagnosis can be made. The equipment is fairly expensive and the updating service for it costs money, too. If an independent shop has little or not computer diagnostic equipment then they are not really in "business."

I would suggest that you also look for CLEAN in the shop. If the shop is sparkling clean, then the mechanic has enough pride in his work to spend the time and money necessary to keep the shop clean. Some twenty years ago I bought a Porsche, and knew that I needed to find a good independent mechanic to service my car, and that I would have to drive quite a long way to find anyone who could work on the car at all...the only dealer was in Portland. So through the Porsche Club I found a mechanic who had established his business in part by working on Porsches particularly. I made an appointment and drove the three and one half hours to have the oil changed. I got out of the car, walked into the shop, turned around and drove home: the shop was such an abyssimal pig stye that I wouldn't allow the hood of ANY car I owned to be opened in that place.

Neither Suzuki that you mentioned, nor the Subaru either, are especially sophisticated cars and their are plenty of them around. The Suzuki has been marketed in this country, rebadged as one of the smaller Chevrolet's, so I doubt that any reputable, up to date, clean and MODERN independent mechanic can work on them.

You should have no problem finding a good independent mechanic within ten miles or so of home. My advice is to look at the shop and talk with the owner. Then ask yourself on simple question: "If I was a car, would I want to have my appendix removed in this shop." If the answer is yes, or your "gut" feeling is no, then find another shop to interview.
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:07 AM
 
Location: MidCoast Maine
476 posts, read 689,757 times
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Great advice, thanks!
The availability of up to date computer diagnostic equipment is something I hadn't considered, but so important now a days. It's good to know that we should be able to locate solid independent shops in the general vicinity. I just wasn't too sure about getting reasonable service for the imports.

Every other year in California, we have to get our vehicles 'smog checked' which runs about $70 to $100 or so, sans any needed repairs to the emissions system. Is there a similar vehicle inspection routine required in Maine?
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Old 01-13-2010, 10:10 AM
 
945 posts, read 2,157,120 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 221B View Post
Every other year in California, we have to get our vehicles 'smog checked' which runs about $70 to $100 or so, sans any needed repairs to the emissions system. Is there a similar vehicle inspection routine required in Maine?
Annual safety inspection is required in Maine. Emmissions test is part of the inspection for cars registered in Cumberland County (Portland area)
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Old 01-13-2010, 10:25 AM
 
Location: On a Slow-Sinking Granite Rock Up North
3,638 posts, read 5,782,671 times
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Since you are coming from SoCal to Maine, can I presume that you will be driving it all winter?

If so, I would highly recommend a quality undercoating. Maine winter road maintenance products are very hard on the undercarriages of vehicles.

Welcome.
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Old 01-13-2010, 01:54 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
33,628 posts, read 55,255,833 times
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221B -
Hi; I am from California as well.

I see no reason why a 1990 Suzuki Samurai could not be the perfect vehicle for you in Maine.

Lots of people here drive off-road and they love their 4x4s.
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Old 01-13-2010, 03:11 PM
 
Location: MidCoast Maine
476 posts, read 689,757 times
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Yes, the Suzukis would be daily drivers, so thanks for the info on taking care of the undercarriage. Just another great tip that I might not otherwise know about.
I wish Suzuki would have kept the Samurai going in the US longer. It really fit a niche that nothing else has really ever filled. My wife and I love going off-road and exploring back-country trails, hence the Samurai and the Canyon 4x4s. I suppose the added plus to them will be nicer handling in snowy conditions. It's good to know that it might live on as a reasonable vehicle in Maine (for shorter hops, at least… not sure about longer trips in that scrappy little 4x4!) That's why we're also taking a look at the SX4 Crossover as an option.
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Old 01-13-2010, 03:12 PM
 
1,064 posts, read 1,899,555 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reloop View Post
I would highly recommend a quality undercoating. Maine winter road maintenance products are very hard on the undercarriages of vehicles.

Welcome.
Can an undercoating be applied to a car that is not new?

And if so, can it be renewed periodically?
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Old 01-13-2010, 03:15 PM
 
1,064 posts, read 1,899,555 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acadianlion View Post
I would suggest that you also look for CLEAN in the shop. If the shop is sparkling clean, then the mechanic has enough pride in his work to spend the time and money necessary to keep the shop clean.
Could also mean the mechanic gets no business to dirty up his shop.
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