Owners get cars back from closed auto shop

Joanne Stockdale's Chrysler Sebring is towed away from Creekside Automotive in Grand Rapids. (July 28, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Monday morning, owners were able to reclaim vehicles that had been locked in at a closed auto repair shop for weeks.

Creekside Automotive on Burton Street SW near US-131 in Grand Rapids shut down without warning in June, leaving customers’ cars stranded behind a chain link fence and locked gate.Creekside Automotive 070114

No one has been able to find Creekside’s owner since he suddenly closed the doors, so there was no way for owners to get their cars back. But then, the property owner’s management company went to court to take back the shop.

Once that happened, they set a two-hour window Monday morning for customers to come get their cars.

Joanne Stockdale’s Chrysler Sebring had been up on a hoist since the shop closed and came down Monday.

Joanne Stockdale's Chrysler Sebring up on a hoist at Creekside Automotive. (July 1, 2014)
(Joanne Stockdale’s Chrysler Sebring up on a hoist at Creekside Automotive. July 1, 2014)

“At least it’s down off the hoist. At least the hoist worked. I’m happy about that. We weren’t sure for a minute,” she said.

Her Sebring has been at Creekside since October. Creekside had made several attempts to fix it, and Stockdale even bought a new engine — though that engine was nowhere to be found Monday.

“So I’m starting from scratch again,” she said.

Monday, she had help from her new mechanic and a crew from a wrecker company who were donating some of their time. The group of men collected parts of the Sebring from the floor and put them inside it, and it was towed to another shop.

Inside Creekside Automotive after people collected their cars. (July 28, 2014)
(Inside Creekside Automotive after people collected their cars. July 28, 2014)

Richard LaGrone Jr. had to push his Saturn out into Burton Street. It had been sitting on the lot for nine weeks.

“It didn’t run at all,” LaGrone said. “Tried to start it. It doesn’t start. There’s a couple of things torn apart in here. The locks and everything is on. I’m going to have to check … to see if there’s any of my car still lying around inside there.”

“We see some of these shops out there, so I’ve got some pointers: Always check with the Better Business Bureau. Make sure they’re insured.  Make sure they’re licensed with the State of Michigan,” John Stewart of Real Pro Auto Service said. “Cheap is not always the way to go.”

Creekside did not have a state license and shouldn’t have been working on cars at all.

There were still eight cars on the lot when the court officer closed the doors again Monday. He said the vehicles will be towed off the property. Owners who still want them will have to deal with the wrecker company to get them back.

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