Piston Slap: The importance of “near me” Google searches


Nancy writes: 

I am having trouble starting my 1940 Ford, likely because I did not drive it for a long time during the pandemic. I am pretty sure bad gas is part of the problem, so who do I trust for the cleaning of my fuel system and associated repairs to get it running again? I live in the Los Angeles area.

Sajeev answers: 

There should be a straightforward answer to Nancy’s question, as a reconditioned gas tank, cleaned fuel lines, new fuel pump, rebuilt carburetor, and replacement of any other part that fails a visual inspection should get the Ford back on the road. Except that doesn’t include the trust factor in getting someone else to work on a prized possession.

Most repair shops prefer to work on vehicles made in the last 20 years. They generally make more money churning through stuff like timing belts, fluid services, and Monroe Quick Strut swaps rapidly, which is less likely if a dead antique is in the way. If they even accept a 1940 Ford, it will be a back-burner affair getting attention only when easier, more profitable repairs are not available.

So you’ve got to find an antique-friendly repair shop, which is why Google “near me” searches are so important. In this case, the search criteria could be “antique auto repair near me.” Here’s what happens when I search “near me” on my computer.

Google Near Me search
Sajeev Mehta

Scroll past the advertisements up top, unless they specifically mention classic/antique vehicles in their ad copy. In my case, three out of four advertisements are not necessarily relevant to getting a 1940 Ford back on the road again. So scroll down to the “view all” button for Google Maps, and click on all the red dots that are a reasonable distance from you. Those red dots offer a wealth of information, as seen below.

Google Near Me search
Sajeev Mehta

Take a look at the photos added by Google users; if you see things like a vintage Porsche on a race track, odds are these folks are worth calling. Good reviews (4–5 stars) are great but not mandatory, but reading the good reviews, bad reviews, and owner replies is beneficial. If you like what you see, call and ask the manager/owner questions like these:

  • Do you work on older vehicles, especially those that have sat around for long periods?
  • What’s your labor rate? (Correct answer = Less than a local car dealership but not disturbingly less)
  • Can I inspect your shop? (Correct answer = Yes)
  • Finding parts for my car is difficult, so can I provide my own parts? (Correct answer = Yes)
  • Do you know local places that rebuild parts like gas tanks, radiators, alternator/generators, transmissions, power steering systems, etc. for cars in your shop? (Correct answer = Yes, with examples)

If you get realistic but reassuring answers, visit the manager/shop in person. If you like what you see, have the Ford towed there. If not, broaden your search on the map, or pick a new search topic: Auto repair near me will absolutely get you a lot of potential businesses to research, especially if you zoom out even further (handy for those living in rural areas).

Finding the right search question and poking all over Google’s map becomes second nature once you do it a few times. Soon you’ll be “near me” searching for everything in your life. And when that happens, you’re welcome.

Have a question you’d like answered on Piston Slap? Send your queries to pistonslap@hagerty.com, give us as much detail as possible so we can help! If you need an expedited resolution, make a post on the Hagerty Community!

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