By John Rice
Of the big stories we've covered at the Review, few have gotten a response, like my column about failing the emissions test. Three villagers called to offer their help, including a mechanic. I was touched but not surprised. We have used many Forest Park mechanics over the years, who were caring, competent and fair with their charges.
The first was Forest Park Foreign Car Repair. They gave us the lowest repair bill in history for fixing the linkage on our VW Rabbit. Eight dollars! Lately, we've been using Forest Automotive. We brought Scott Posson a beater we bought for $500. After looking it over, Scotty recommended we sell it to a scrap dealer for 100 bucks. I promised next time I'd bring Scott a "real" car he could actually fix.
The next car we brought him wasn't cheap — we had gotten it for free! It was perfect for tooling around town until the brakes failed and my wife sailed through an intersection. Scott gave us a price for a brake job and other repairs, which far exceeded the value of the car.
To replace it, he recommended a friend at a dealership, who sold us a car that, so far, has not sailed through an intersection. Meanwhile, I was nursing my 2007 Pontiac along and noticed that my engine kept getting louder. It suddenly roared like a jet engine, when the entire exhaust system dropped to the pavement.
I stopped immediately, figuring that if I drove another inch, I would destroy the exhaust. Fortunately, I was two blocks from Forest Automotive. After I explained my problem to Scott, he dispatched an employee to secure the exhaust with a bungee cord. This kept me from damaging the exhaust and it only required a few bolts to re-attach it.
Scott then began his fight with my "check engine" light, so I could pass the emissions test. As I mentioned, I spent my days driving to the Addison testing station, only to fail the test. Finally, the Addison guys told me I would never pass the test if I didn't go to one of their recommended mechanics. This sounded like extortion. I decided to stick with Scotty.
After he fixed an O-ring or something, he wouldn't let me pay the bill until I passed. What a relief it was to finally get my license sticker. No more fear of flashing red lights in my rearview mirror. Scott's been helping non-gearheads like me for decades. He was only 20 when he opened his first repair shop in Oak Park.
Scott and his partner, Paul, have been operating Forest Automotive since 1977. Scott is a big fan of Forest Park. But he is not a fan of how the state conducts emissions tests. He believes the testing should be done by local mechanics, not the Illinois Air Team. In New York, for example, drivers bring their cars to their own certified mechanic, who conducts safety and emissions tests.
This would save emissions from people driving to Addison and waiting in line. He was a bit resentful that the testing station recommended other mechanics, noting he doesn't qualify for their list because he fixes cars preemptively before they take the test. These other shops fix the test failures, which is why they are favored by the state.
I'm grateful to Scott and the other Forest Park mechanics, who have kept our cars on the road. I'm also relieved that I have two years before my next emissions test. I doubt my Pontiac will still be drivable by then but, with Scott, who knows?
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.