PJW Automotive: a neighborhood shop known for quality, honesty

Vehicles being serviced at the New Brighton shop.

Current owner, Pat Whelan. Soon-to-be owner, Mike London.

Technician Patrick Adamietz at work on a repair.

After nearly four decades of work at the shop, owner looks towards working 'on some retirement'


Trust is a rare thing in life, and even rarer in the world of automotive shops. Anyone who finds a mechanic who won't try to upsell a simple repair knows to cherish that relationship forever. Longtime patrons of PJW Automotive in New Brighton know that they have found a gem.

"Pat treats me really well and I trust what he says. He's never tried to take advantage. My dad taught me about cars, so I know what's up with cars," says Christina Super, a repeat customer at PJW. "None of these guys are ever going to try to pass anything by you."

"I came here 15 years ago, then I didn't need him for a while," says Becky Olson. When she needed maintenance again, she chose to come back. "I remembered Pat because he was so honest, and so kind."

PJW Automotive is well-established in New Brighton. It has been in its present location off Old Highway 8 since 1985, and for five years before that, at its original location several blocks away. Owner Pat Whelan works alongside three full-time technicians and a part-time apprentice. They can service any vehicle.

"We're strictly a mechanical repair shop, versus a collision shop," Pat says. "Our primary focus is cars and light trucks. Our biggest amount of cars and light trucks are the domestic lines — Ford, GM, Chrysler. We work on a ton of Asian cars. We also work on European imports, just not as much."

PJW has vast resources to stay on top of developing technology. Webinars, training classes and online services for professionals keep them current with knowledge and certifications.

Pat is still easy to find at the shop, often chatting with guests at the front desk, but he has plans to hand over ownership to his longtime associate, Mike London. Mike has been working with Pat for more than 15 years.

"I've been in this thing for 38 years, and it's time for me to step out of the main role and work on some retirement," Pat says. "The facility is all going to stay the same, that's the plan. Hopefully with the same top-quality, personable service, just with some changes in names."

Because the team specializes in mechanics, they are advocates for regular, preventative maintenance — it's just like having regular checkups with a doctor instead of waiting to go to the emergency room.

"Normal, regular maintenance is a good thing — from a trusted service! There can be a lot of misinformation. It leads people down maintenance paths that aren't very productive for the long life a vehicle," Pat says. "A perfect example: we've got a truck out here. It's a nice truck, but it's got a lot of miles on it. We haven't seen it often for maintenance, and it looks like it's going to need a $6,000 motor repair. It came from a guy who didn't think he needed to change his oil very often."

Pat will be the first to tell you that even though most people don't budget for regular service, the long-term savings are worth it.

"Service visits always cost money," he says. "But if you have a car with over 100,000 miles and skipped the service visits, you might think about putting some money aside, because it will need maintenance."

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