Astro Transmission Incorporated

  • 4.9 of 5 stars
3 reviews

461 Derby Ave, West Haven, CT 06516, us

(203) 389-6800

Email: 

Website URL: 

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Hours
 
Specialties
Specializes in Transmission work
Loaners
No
Notes
 
They are always honest
5.0/5
They are competent
5.0/5
Their repair price is reasonable
5.0/5
They complete the work in a timely manner
4.5/5
They respond well when they screw something up
5.0/5
They take the time to explain the problems and necessary repairs
5.0/5
They treat male and female customers in the same manner
5.0/5
They are always honest
5.0/5
I would use this mechanic again
N/A
I would recommend this mechanic to others
N/A
They fix the problem the first time
4.5/5
The shop is located in a safe neighborhood
5.0/5
The hours of operation are convenient for customers
5.0/5
They are near public transportation (or provide loaners, shuttle bus, rides as needed)
4.5/5
Nov 06, 1998
This letter, which I also sent to the mailbag, says it all: Dear Tom & Ray-- Remember the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner"? Of course you do - all those slimy things with slimy legs, burning witch's oils, and broken shapes that plunged and veered? It's a perfect poem for auto mechanics. Though whether you two qualify is debatable. In any case, I realized the connection between Coleridges's poem and cars when I bought a used SAAB I've since decided to call "the Albatross." Fortunately for me, I bought it from "Mariner" Mike, who runs a shop here in New Haven, Connecticut called Astro Transmission. Now Mike is a nice man, an honest man, a man you can buy a used car from and feel good about it. I haven't the faintest idea what he may have done in a past life to deserve the Albatross roosting with him. But now that we've all lived to tell the ghastly tale, I want to share it - though as warning or inspiration only you and the yahoos who waste time with your mailbox can tell for sure. OK, so this lady, we'll call her Jane, brought the Albatross to Astro. Her husband, we'll call him Joe, thought the car wasn't worth fixing. Jane insists, Joe doesn't refuse, and next thing you know Mike has a nicely purring car with a newly rebuilt transmission and just one problem: Jane has no money and Joe refuses to pay. But Joe offers to transfer title to Mike if he'll call it quits on the bill. Enter me. I was looking for a used SAAB (the Albatross is an '86 Turbo 900), and had brought a damaged car I was thinking of buying in to Mike for evaluation. Mike judged the car I brought in unfixable, but introduced me to the Albatross, offering to sell it privately with (this is key) a full warranty, if I would settle Jane's bill. And so the deal was done, and like the Mariner, Mike found the Albatross slung around his neck. Not that we saw the curse right away. After a few tweaks and switched brake lights the car passed inspection and I got it registered and was on my way. But not for long. On a long, hot day's drive around New York I found the Albatross losing power. Now, Mike had told me a few things needed adjusting, including the idle regulator, and we'd arranged a time to get that done. So as a driver who doesn't know idle regulators from idle steelworkers, I assumed the power loss was something Mike had already promised to fix. It got worse as the day went on, but I still figured I could make it back to New Haven where Mike could easily take care of it. Wrong. Turns out the power loss came from a transmission leak; a hose had somehow worked loose. Leaking fluid all day, the Albatross lost power completely going uphill in the dark. "Is that DEATH?" I wondered, as I rolled back toward oncoming traffic. No, but it was a tow job. I got it off the highway, and Mike got it to his shop, where he smelled the burnt transmission as it came on the lot. "I've never seen a transmission driven till it fused before," Mike told me. "It's kind of like a science experiment." Now at this point Mike could have argued that only an idiot would keep driving fast with an obvious power loss. And I would have likely agreed. And then we could have fought about whether or not warranties cover defective mental operation by the owner. But Mike simply said he'd take care of it, at which point I knoew he was no ordinary used car salesman. This left him no profit but under the circumstances, he said he was glad to break even. I then left for a business trip. When I got back Mike had rebuilt the transmission a second time. He'd also adjusted the regulator, tested the engine, and checked just about every part in the car. Now this was above and beyond the warranty, but like I say, Mike's no ordinary salesman. He sold me a car he thought was in good shape. He wanted me to drive away happy - so he'd feel good about the sale; and so he wouldn't see me, or the Albatross, on his lot again soon. He even arranged a free loaner for the "few days" of tests before I got the Albatross back. Wrong again. You could almost hear the daemon's voice saying "The man hath penance done, and penance more will do." No matter how Mike tested or adjusted, the car stayed out of whack. He got the engine purring, the idle went dead. The idle up to speed, the compression went wrong. And on and on. My days with the loaner became weeks. We spoke often in that period, Mike and I. Often enough to memorize phone numbers. Often enough to recognize voices. Often enough that his wife might have wondered why he talked so much with a female customer, except that his reaction to my messages was generally "oh, shit." For hours at a time he'd get on with his day, work on cars he was paid to fix, and forget the Albatross. Then he'd see a message from me. Oh, shit. By now, having started repairs in the summer, we were coming up on Halloween. I asked Mike if he'd read the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," and of course he had. I imagined him wandering around his shop, refusing to look at my Albatross, Like one, that on a lonesome road Doth walk in fear and dread, And having once turned round walks on, And turns no more his head; Because he knows, a frightful fiend Doth close behind him tread. Eventually, Mike narrowed the trouble down to likely malfunction of the on-board computer, the one part he didn't own diagnostic equipment to check. So he sent it off, at his expense, to the local SAAB dealer. Sure enough, the computer was loopy. Just think how Coleridge could have tortured the Mariner if microchips were invented in the 18th century. In any case, Mike had finally solved the wee mystery of Joe's eagerness to abandon the car. Well, Mike paid the SAAB dealer for a rebuilt computer. I asked how much money he'd lost selling this car to me, and he just growled "I prefer to think about annual sales." He installed the new computer, and then once again adjusted and tested till the car was perfect. At long last we set a day for me to pick it up, when he'd have slotted in one last part which SAAB was sending by UPS overnight express. Needless to say, the part arrived late. UPS recently switched their coding system, eliminating bright red "next day air" tags that helped drivers sort those packages for fast delivery in favor of a single tag system that's easier for the loaders. So the UPS driver didn't know he had a "deliver by 10:00 AM" package on his truck. Mike said the guy looked shocked as his electronic board flashed "Late Delivery!" over and over. Mike wasn't surprised. The curse of the Albatross had held to the end. But now at last (I think) it's over. The curse (I hope) has been broken. I've been driving the Albatross without incident, and (fingers crossed) nothing more will go wrong. I offered to write this letter, so Mike would at least get publicity for his saint-like work. He accepted, cautiously. See, it turns out Mike does a couple of local radio car talk shows in Connecticut, and he already gets in business from those appearances. And the thing is, Joe and Jane came in that way. So happy holidays, to Mike and all car guys who ever thought they resembled the Ancient Mariner. And may all you drivers out there always deal with car guys as honorable as Mike. And if there's any curse left in the Albatross, may it transfer back through the internet (or airwaves) to Joe and Jane, where it belongs. --Rebecca
Jun 29, 2000
Very busy Shop. Extremely clean for a repair shop. Took a few day's to get an appointment, but work was completed on time. Saved $500.00 from dealer price.
Jun 29, 2000
  • N/A
Very busy Shop. Extremely clean for a repair shop. Took a few day's to get an appointment, but work was completed on time. Saved $500.00 from dealer price.

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