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The Word is Out About "Honest Terry"

Reprinted by permission from:
North County Times

North County Standout
 He's Known as Honest Terry

For many drivers, the idea of going to an auto mechanic is about as much fun as a root canal. Not only are car repairs expensive, but some mechanics may overcharge or fool trusting customers into getting repairs they don't need. You know the drill.
Other repair shops charge $80 or more just to diagnose a problem.
But not all auto shops behave this way. Terry Lau, owner of Terry's Nissan and Auto Specialist in San Marcos, runs his shop differently. He tells customers exactly what their cars need to run properly, and he does this without tacking on additional diagnostic fees. It is also why Lau is considered one of the more square-dealing mechanics in San Marcos. And he has been for some time.
"The money comes automatically in this business," Lau said. "You don't have to create stuff; cars break."
Lau said many auto shops charge unreasonable prices just to diagnose a problem that takes only five or 10 minutes to find.
At Lau's place, cars are repaired the first time they come in and are ready when his customers need them. It is this prompt, honest service that has kept Terry's in business for 30 years, said mechanic Milan Rogers, an employee.
Customers who have their cars repaired at dealerships don't get the individual service they find at Lau's garage, Rogers said.
The majority of Lau's patrons are repeat customers, including the mayor of Carlsbad, Claude A. "Bud" Lewis. Lewis, Lau's former high school history teacher, has gone to Lau for the last 10 years.
"I feel very comfortable going to Terry's," Lewis says. " We have an understanding ---- he tells me what needs to be done." Period.
Another reason customers keep returning is because Lau, a friendly man with an easy smile, will go out of his way to help them, longtime customer Paul Polito said.
Not only does Polito bring his own car, but he also feels comfortable letting Lau's mechanics work on the cars of his college-age children. Lau has also helped one of Polito's daughters buy a car. "He's that kind of guy; he really helped her out," Polito said.
Lau began working on cars while attending Carlsbad High School, and in 1973 opened his first shop in Carlsbad. In 1975, he moved to San Marcos in search of more space.
"Now with a 3,500-square-foot facility, the shop services about 20 cars a day," Lau said. Even if a car isn't repaired correctly, Lau does everything he can to make it right.
"That's the best way to show customers what you can do."

Start date/time: July 4, 2003

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