Joel Muñoz
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For those times when your spouse complains about your project car just sitting there taking up space or a much-needed auto repair is too costly, an ideal spot in North County has emerged to serve amateur motorheads.

Joel Muñoz just opened U Fix-it Automotive, a do-it-yourself garage, one of only two in California that Muñoz is aware of. Located at 2420 Industry Street, the shop offers everything for the shade-tree mechanic, including tools and technical help.

Rates start at $15 per hour, or $100 for the day, to use one of eight lifts in their service bays. Customers have access air compressors and tire-balancing equipment as well. Each bay has a computer monitor to research over 40,000 repair manuals, technical service bulletins, recall notices, or how-to videos. Pneumatic tools, engine lifts, and other specialty tools can also be rented.

Muñoz, more savvy businessman than mechanic, says he’s licensed the idea of his self-serve garage from a similar shop in Phoenix. He’ll soon begin marketing to car clubs, auto-shop students, and backyard mechanics around North County. “We even have a storage area for those working on project cars,” said Muñoz.

Muñoz offers what he calls “no excuse” weekends — providing big-screen monitors for football games.

The facility also offers free classes on basic auto repairs, such as preventive maintenance, brakes, and oil changes; he said it’s those services that most people get taken advantage of.

Through a network of parts houses, Muñoz said parts can be ordered and purchased at below retail price. But for most of us amateur mechanics, the best service offered is a technician who will be available to take over and finish the job should one get in over their head; Muñoz said the rate charged would be about half the average hourly rate of most garages.

Using the shop’s online information monitor, I checked into a repair that I know will be coming soon for my vehicle. My mechanic estimated $1028 to fix. U Fix It can get the part for $753 (about $100 less than any place I found). Although it looks complicated, based on my level of limited experience, the shop manual calculated that it should take me less than an hour — perfect for a Sunday afternoon when the Chargers aren’t playing so well.

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