Valley car repair business helps family in need

Posted at 7:32 PM, Feb 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-01 21:59:39-05

A Phoenix family is rolling in a much safer van thanks to a Valley business that went out of its way to help.

Thelma Bowman and her daughter, Felicia, had been getting around any way that they could. On foot, by bus and, when they could afford it, by cab.

But with Felicia's chronic kidney disease they needed reliable transportation to get to doctors and dialysis appointments. They spent all of their saving on a minivan that they bought from a private owner.

"He told us it was in good working condition," Felicia said. "He even had his wife there to help him sell."

They thought they could trust the couple, but it turned out that they couldn't.

"The owner had taped up the engine light on, it was taped over with black tape, " Thelma said.

She really knew that she was in trouble when the fuel gage never moved.

"We kept filling up the tank, and each time it would only take $7 at the most," Thelma said. "I thought, 'What's going on? This can't be right.'"

Even worse, the van couldn't pass the state emissions test.

Out of money and out of options, the ladies made their way to the Let Joe Know Consumer Forum at Tempe Marketplace.

That's where they met AAA Auto Repair manager Travis Mock. He said they were his first case of the night.

"I didn't quite plan to experience emotions," Mock said. He couldn't get them off of his mind. "I left that night thinking 'how in the world can we help this family?'" Mock said.

He rallied help from his bosses at AAA, and a few days later he asked Thelma to bring the van by for an inspection.

"I wanted to hug them over the phone when they called me" Thelma said.

Travis said the problems were extensive, but fixable and he wanted to help.

So they kept the van for a couple of weeks, even setting Thelma up with a rental car so they could still make it to Felicia's appointments.

"I just broke down in tears," Thelma said.  "And I thought, Tthey're not going to leave us like this.' There are really honest people. There is somebody out there who has a heart, who has all this compassion."

In the end, the van got new brakes, tires, spark plugs, fuel pump, and a lot of other fixes to make trips to the doctor a lot less stressful.

"It's like a miracle," Felicia said. "A God send."

A huge thanks goes to AAA Auto Repair in Phoenix for helping this family out.

And it's another reminder when buying a used car, you must have a trusted mechanic look it over, avoid "as is" sales without warranties, and check out the business reputation online.

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