I Vote For Vautrin

There’s never a good time for your car battery to die.

Mine died yesterday at 5 p.m., right after soccer practice.

James Hickok — our All-State goalkeeper — provided jumper cables. That was one of the biggest saves of his career.

Our fantastic assistant coach, Kurt Dasbach, provided advice.

“Go to Vautrin,” he said. “They’ll pop another battery in. They’re the most honest guys in Westport. And they’re open till 6.”

I’ve lived in Westport my entire life. I’ve driven past Vautrin Auto Service — next to the new Goodwill — probably 10,000 times. I’d never gone in.

I drove over. Greg Bernfeld — Vautrin’s owner for the past 11 years — took a quick look. He yanked the old battery. He put in a new one.

Vautrin Auto Service works magic on many cars. This is not mine.

Then he handed me the bill. The battery was $99; with tax, it came to $105.29.

The labor was $0.

“Come on,” I said. “You’ve got to charge me for that.”

“No I don’t,” Greg countered. “I charge labor if there’s real labor. This was 2 minutes.”

In a lifetime in Westport, I’d never gone to Vautrin.

Now I won’t go anywhere else.

30 responses to “I Vote For Vautrin

  1. I just paid $79 plus tax in labor for the Toyota dealer to replace a tail light bulb (bulb cost $1.06). “Oh, it’s a very complicated job,” I was told.

    • Oh really? I own a Toyota Camry and one of the lights went out recently. After a quick trip to Walmart, I changed the bulb in two minutes.

      Snap!

  2. Greg used to work at Green’s Farms Shell and whenever I went there, he was the only one I wanted to work on my car. When he opened Vautrin, I followed. Not only is he a fine diagnostician of car problems but he will ALWAYS efficiently take care of the problem and he NEVER overcharges. Not only that, but he and his staff are really great people…My family and friends have all discovered him and everyone agrees. So glad you’ve acknowledged what an unsung treasure he is in Westport.

  3. Another great source for some of the quick fixes, bulbs, wiper blades, tools and parts for “do it” types, is Cooper Auto, other side of the Post Road.

    Dealer’s labor costs tend to be very high, over $100 per hour.

    Owners: Man or Women, read your Manuals. A lot of the easy “how to stuff” is in there.

  4. Kim Crowther Manning

    Darn! You gave away one of the best secrets I’ve ever had! My parents took their cars to Vautrin for years pre-Greg, and now my husband and I take our cars there. Vautrin has only improved since he took over. I recently had a slow leak in my tire and drove into Vautrin without an appointment to see if Greg could help. He dunked the tire in water to find the leak, saw it was a nail, yanked the nail, filled the hole with whatever that foamy stuff is, and sent me on my way without charging a cent. Maybe every repair shop would do that, but somehow I doubt it. When I asked Greg how much I owed him he laughed and said “forget about it”. A good, honest guy.

  5. Where is Vautrin? Never heard of it and I’ve been an area resident since 1975. Bob and Jay at Compo service station near the fire station on the Post Road did the same thing for me when I had a flat tire. Fixed it on the spot for free.

  6. Thanks for this tip. I have been taking my Honda to Norwalk, a place I trust also and which does not overcharge. But the Norwalk station is pretty far, so I’m going to Vautrin next time I need something done.

    • Greg does all warranty work on cars too…using factory parts so your warranty is guaranteed in case of a recall…and his price is cheaper than the dealer’s.

  7. Athena Ploumis Bradley

    Hugh & Athena Bradley had gotten a tip from Dan Schine about 6 years ago . We have been happy & trusting customers ever since.
    Greg is indeed a solid ,honest & most trust worthy car expert we have ever
    done business with. Time and again he has proved this !!

  8. Now this is the sort of local blog topic I love, a nice shout out for a great local business. (I guess I should admit I’ve never really heard of Vautrin either, but I tend to do most car stuff myself – so I definitely know Sandy over at Coopers, another local treasure – “that will be $3 boss”.) So glad to hear of an honest and fair local shop here in our great town of Westport.

    Of course, this topic won’t even get 20 comments, but I much prefer it to the wild political threads where literary gunfights and stabbings are the norm.

  9. Greg and his guys are the Best mechanics in town, Honest, and Fairly priced (but please don’t go there expecting free labor on all small jobs)!

  10. Ellen Wentworth

    I have been going to Greg for 18 yrs,on the advice of a friend. I have never once been disappointed. He is the best! Keep up the great work,Greg.

  11. As I expected, Greg’s one act of kindness has been repaid by priceless advertising that will dramatically increase his business. Add me to the growing list of those who never noticed it before, but will now go to Vautrin anytime I have the opportunity to do so. Well done, Dan.

  12. Dan, I’m a long-time reader, first-time poster— but couldn’t resist this time. Am devoted to Vautrin — started going to Greg a couple of years ago on the advice of —- your mother!

  13. ugh! now i’ll never get my car back quickly! but they deserve the biz. great guys.

  14. Being new to town, we’re in the market for a pediatrician, doctors, dentists, hair stylists, etc. I can now cross “mechanic” off the list. We’ll go with Vautrin. Thanks, Dan.

    • Welcome to town. I went through (for some categories, still going through) the same thing myself since moving here in 2004. Here’s a tip to scratch another category off your list: for a pediatrician, try the doctors at Village Pediatrics — I’ve been using Dr. Gorman for my daughter (now 11) since we moved to Westport, and followed her when she set up Village Peds a few years ago. I can’t say enough wonderful things about her, Dr. Gruen or their office. Check them out at: http://www.villagepedi.com
      I hope you’ve already discovered another of Westport’s treasures — the Westport Public Library. Incredible breadth of programs and services for kids and adults; busy and restful spots throughout, depending on your mood; never short on delightful surprises (investigate their Maker Space); and a great way to meet your neighbors. http://www.westportlibrary.org
      Again, welcome!

  15. it is nice to know that there are places like Vautrin. As a Lambie posted – I am a fan of Compo 66 for the same reason. When we moved to town 20 years ago – they displayed the same type of customer service that Vautrin showed you. It goes to show that in the world of big box stores and inpersonal service – there are still good folks around.

  16. Dave at IPM (near the train station) is a knowledgable, hardworking, diligent mechanic if your car is an Audi, Volvo, Mercedes, Porsche or BMW . He regularly deals with emergencies in a cool, prompt manner, and a $99 battery is higher than I have had to pay.

  17. Great post!

  18. Lived in this town since 1945 and have been in the service business as the owner as well as founder of Drive Your Car Service, a Driving Service, since 1959 (Fifty-three and an half years).
    Want you to know: Greg Bernfeld is The Very Best!
    Would be very hard-pressed to find a finer man–and gentleman–in business in this town today or any day.
    Greg Bernfeld is honest, fair and excellent, as are his mechanics.
    Referring my clients to him, without reservation or hesitation, is very reassuring, refreshing and gratifying, knowing that they will all be treated equally well.
    Call; make an appointment; have your vehicle serviced; experience what I and my clients have, first hand.

    Louis A. Stone, Jr.
    [aka “Peter” Stone]

  19. Well Dan, glad you got true, good service. Unfortunately I haven’t had such good luck with Vautrin in *buying cars. They sold me one that busted out within months, back in 2002, a 1999 model. Refused to fix anything when it was clear it was not as advertised. That car has long since gone… (obviously).

    Guess I’m the odd one out. AAA coming to me and installing a new battery from them has worked for me better, more convenient, and all less than $110 (includes install). They even came out and replaced the terminals for free on a different day, as I saw they needed it — within 15 minutes– free. But of course, that involves buying AAA in the first place. Glad to hear Vautrin was fair in your case, and perhaps they’ve improved. Hey- just being honest!

    • Hey JT, Sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience. Just so you know, there was a different sales group in here then (gone since ’05– for those same reasons). That would not happen on my watch!! Greg

      • Thanks Greg- I am actually about to pick an auto shop for repairs, perhaps I’ll reconsider your shop since you took the time to personally respond. Much appreciated, and is a stark contrast to “back in those days…”

  20. Ken & Linda Smith

    We love hearing stories about Westport’s honest merchants, and I think Greg sounds wonderful. But we need to give a shout out for Tim Purcell, owner of Christie’s Service Center who is scrupulously honest and charges fair prices. We’ve been going there since Klaus Nerz was the owner and then Tim (a longtime Westporter with a family) took over. So many people have thanked us for telling them about Christie’s, so that’s another “Westport Good Guy”.

  21. Dan, Thanks for taking the time to post the kind words. We at Vautrin Auto value our clients and work hard to meet or exceed everyone’s expectations. We realize there are other good auto repair shops in the area and we appreciate the choice they have made with us.

  22. On the negative example side: Hank May on the Westport line tried to charge me $115 plus $20 “installation” for a battery. Let’s see, $20 divided by 5 minutes = $4/minute or $240/hr.

  23. I agree wholeheartedly with Dan’s assessment of Vautrin. Greg is a true professional…honest, hardworking, fair, and customer focused. I wouldn’t go anyplace else either. His staff reflects his care and concern and always have a “can do” attitude.