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Brothers keep the wheels turning

By Staff | Apr 6, 2009

Bernie and Scott Kriewall have been repairing and towing vehicles in the area for more than 30 years.

If everything on TV were true, then keeping a vehicle running great, looking good and lasting a long time would be the easiest thing ever.

Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Regularly scheduled maintenance and lubrication, using the manufacturers recommendations for oil, grease and liquids, is what often will do the trick in keeping a vehicle on the road.

The best oil in the world will do your engine no good if you never change it. Proper and preventative maintenance is the key, whether it relates to the engine, the interior or the undercarriage of a vehicle.

Hiring reputable mechanics to replace normal wear-and-tear parts and perform preventative maintenance is of utmost importance.

Two local men who have literally helped keep vehicles on the road are Bernie and Scott Kriewall. Their business, Blue Earth Auto and Truck Stop, has served the people in a 25-mile radius for years.

A mechanic for 37 years, Bernie says he and his brother are seeing more people having routine maintenance done on their vehicles during these tough economic times. Their customers are hoping good car care will enable them to keep their cars and trucks longer as well as getting them better gas mileage.

“They’re having us fix stuff like brakes and suspension and even tire rotation,” says Scott, a 35-year veteran mechanic.

“I think because of the economy, people are more alert to maintenance. They want their cars to be more efficient,” says Scott.

Both mechanics urge their customers to be more alert to gas mileage, since poor performance may be the result of some other possibly more severe mechanical problem.

When servicing a vehicle, the Kriewalls check and change oil, examine the spark plugs, suspension, wiper blades, windshield washer fluid and check the tires to see whether they need rotation. They also look at the transmission fluid level or ‘forgotten fluid’ as they call it.

“We have all the tools and supplies on hand to do routine maintenance,” says Scott.

Another thing people often forget when they are doing their ‘Spring car care,’ says Bernie, is to make sure they wash the salt from the undercarriage.

“Our work has changed drastically over the years. From 1957 to 1974, we had the same set of points and condensers,” says Bernie. Every year since then it has changed due to electronics and metrics.

When the metrics were introduced, the Kriewalls had to buy different tools in order to do their mechanical work. This also heralded the end of the days when most people could do their own automotive maintenance in their yards or garages. The car industry basically forced people to return to a dealer for repairs.The Kriewalls also say repair work is getting more expensive because of the increased cost of parts and oil.

“In 2008,” says Bernie, “we saw the biggest increase of our careers when the cost of motor oil went up 40 percent.

‘Big or small we move ’em all’ is the slogan they have painted on their tow trucks.

Their large tow truck can winch a truck out of a ditch. But they have also assisted in smaller and even unique projects such as pulling vehicles out of rivers and retrieving trailers that have sunk in the ground. They have even helped ‘boom up’ safes and pianos from homes and businesses.

“I like dealing with our regular customers and the variety of this job,” says Scott. “From day to day I never know what we might end up doing, especially during stormy and icy days. These are the times we end up doing a lot of towing.

Even though they primarily work on cars and pickups, the Kriewalls also get service calls from truckers stalled on the interstate.

“Truckers want to get back on the road as soon as possible, so the first things we always check are the fuel filters and if their air lines have frozen up,” explains Bernie. If these or other minor mechanical issues aren’t the cause of the breakdown, the Kriewalls tow the truck to their shop.

“It’s really rewarding to get someone who has broken down on the highway up and running and back on the road to get to their home,” says Bernie.

The Kriewalls have always enjoyed working on GM products, but are adept at providing maintenance for all makes and models.

“Some of the imports are the most difficult to work on because of the tight quarters,” says Scott.

In order to keep current with manufacturers new products, the Kriewall brothers attend two classes per year. These are held at the local parts stores and include a wide range of topics from brakes to electronics.

“NAPA is pretty good about getting reps down here to help us,” says Scott.

Taking good care of a vehicle, inside and out, can make the difference between being the proud owner of a good looking, long lasting, reliable machine or saying goodbye to a rusty, faded-paint jalopy that is falling apart or breaking down long before it was designed to do so.

Preventative maintenance is a must. So, whether it is a tow or a tune-up, no job is too big or small for the Kriewalls at Blue Earth Auto and Truck Stop.