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The Suburbanite
  • Mechanic: Pay a little now, or pay a lot later

  • Pay a little now, or pay a lot later, says Jerry Palmer, award-winning auto technician. Palmer says the poor economy has forced some car owners to postpone maintenance, but he warns waiting can result in a more expensive repair bill.

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  • Jerry Palmer knows immediately which car owners faithfully schedule regular maintenance.
    “They’re the ones who come in here with cars with 200,000 miles on them,” he said.
    Palmer, an auto technician for Progressive Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge in Massillon, recently won a new national Technician Recognition award from Chrysler. About 10,000 technicians were eligible for the award — but only two from each of nine regions got the nod.
    “They were looking for the best of the best,“ Service Manager Tim Chillik said. “There are 329 dealers in this (region). It’s the most populated, so the most competitive.”
    Palmer, of Canal Fulton, has been fixing cars for 30 years, the last five at Progressive. He also works on Vipers for a race car team. When asked what advice he would offer car owners to prevent expensive repairs, he didn’t hesitate.
    “Oil changes,” he said. “After 3,000 miles, the oil breaks down from the engine heat. Then the bearings wear out, then you have engine repair. That can be $3,000 to $5,000. Or you could pay $29.95 every three months or so for an oil change.”
    Some newer cars can go 5,000 miles between oil changes. The key for all maintenance, Palmer said, is following the owner’s manual.
    “The economy changed how people maintain their cars. It used to be, the “check engine” light came on, and they got right in,” he said. “Now they may wait, may not have that extra money in their pocket. I can’t blame them, but fixing it now — in the long run, it will last longer.”