TIE: Suncoast Auto & Tire/Frank´s Auto Air Muffler & Brake City

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In the age of Firestone, Pep Boys, Sears Auto, Mobil, et. al., mom ´n´ pop auto shops often struggle for a slice of the car-repair pie. For us it all comes down to price and service, two categories where the independents still stand a chance. We frequent both Frank´s and Suncoast for both. Neither hard-working shop demands we disrobe and bend over for their services, and they usually cost less than the chains and dealerships. The employees are straight up and realistic (even admitting when they can´t help, and willing to recommend someone who can), and your car won´t mysteriously start sputtering or whining or clanging a day out of the shop. It doesn´t matter that Suncoast´s exterior is fading, or the helpful guy at Frank´s can´t run your credit card till his coworker gets off the phone. If they´ve managed to save a few pennies here and there, it´s a good bet they´ll be passing ´em on to you.

Suncoast Tire and Auto, 6777 Haines Road N. St. Petersburg, 727-520-1148; Frank´s, 5515 S. Dale Mabry, Tampa, 813-831-9773.

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