April 9, 2010

review: Green Garage.

Because loving your car shouldn’t mean hating the planet.

I love my car. I hate Big Oil. After watching Fuel, I left the theater even more determined to get my car off oil as much as I could as soon as I could (sure wish Subaru would bring their diesel engine to the States!). Thanks to Green Garage, there is that much less oil in my car now, and the impact of my car on the planet is that much lighter.

Green Garage (read our editor’s story of their launch at Crispin Porter Bogusky) is the brainchild of “Chief Carhugger” and Founder Ryan Ferrero, a former auto dealership owner who decided that there had to be a better, more eco way of auto repair that would not only lessen the impact on the planet but would also extend the life of a car. He found 1,000 “eco” car care products and gave them to “Carhugger” Ernie Lavigne with the task of finding out how many were actually “green” products. Six passed muster. Since that time, the product line has expanded to 60 different planet friendly care care products, all of which have been certified by third parties and none of which would void a manufacturer’s warranty.

I took my beloved 2002 Subaru Forester with 130,000+ miles in for a basic “Drive Good” package; there are two options with this package, either re-refined oil or for an extra $10, their API approved, bio-degradable G-Oil engine oil made from the cholesterol obtained from animal fat. My old oil was drained out (and added to other conventional oil they collect and then turn over to a separate company for re-refinement/recycling) and replaced with G-Oil. The oil filter was replaced as well, and Carhuggers Nick and Kelly went bumper to bumper and gave my car their 53 point inspection. They made a few suggestions, and even noted that they would have suggested their Pulse Plugs but since I had recently had my plugs replaced, it didn’t make any sense to replace perfectly good, new traditional spark plugs. The cost of the oil change was more than a conventional oil change (a bit over $85 with tax), but my car isn’t due back in for another 8,000 miles, at which point they will only replace the oil filter; the oil itself is good for between 16,000 and 24,000 miles. Based on one Green Garage oil change (once every two years) vs. a conventional oil change (four times a year), I already stand to save about $150, not including the potential for up to 15% in fuel savings. Awesome. Like a CFC lightbulb, the upfront costs are higher when compared to conventional, but when you factor in the life cycle, long term costs and savings, Green Garage comes out way, way ahead.

Green Garage thinks differently from traditional repair shops. I didn’t expect to be steered away from a product like I was the Pulse Plugs, but the Green Garage crew takes a longer view of the life cycle: they won’t do the work until it needs doing. From their point of view, it makes no sense to replace something that works simply to make a sale. Their focus is to extend the useful life of the car someone is already driving. Vice President of Sustainability: “Queen O’ Green” Catherine Greener (who also works as a green consultant for Nissan and other major companies) states it: “The greenest car is the one you already own.” It’s better to extend the life of the car than replace it unnecessarily. Interestingly, while the perception of green auto repair is one of sacrificing performance for planet friendliness, Green Garage customers have actually reported increases in their car’s performance after Green Garage’s green upgrades. The oil change itself, in addition to the long term savings, is said to increase engine efficiency up to 5%; the oil filter, while costing twice as much as a conventional oil filter, lasts up to three times longer and uses about 70% less oil. That all adds up to eliminating up to 1,760 pounds of CO2 a year (equivalent to 90 gallons of gas or having to plant 20 trees a year for ten years). Add to that their goal of being a zero waste car repair facility (they are a full service auto maintenance and service shop and offer routine maintenance and emergency repair in addition to their green upgrade services), and car owners can definitely feel good about taking their cars to Green Garage for maintenance and repair (about the only thing they don’t do is put gas in your car!).

Green Garage has been open since September of 2009 and recently moved into their current location on 55th & Pearl in January. On Monday, April 12, they open their Fort Collins location (with plans to take Green Garage national). They offer a valet service if you can’t get to them: they’ll come to you, pick up your car, service it and bring it back. For companies that are big enough and can offer multiple cars to service, they’ll bring Willie, their big, green truck (that includes a lift) to that company and service multiple cars right in the parking lot.

Green Garage: because loving your car shouldn’t mean hating the planet. Call (303-991-5650 x614) or email (customerserviceATgreengarageDOTcom) ’em and schedule an appointment; your car, wallet and your planet will be glad you did.

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