Ever since he was a boy, Uptown Auto Specialist (501 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-866-8392; www.myuptownauto.com) owner Paul Cosma dreamed of owning an auto-repair shop. He started out working at car dealerships and independent garages, and when he moved to New Orleans from northeastern Ohio more than 30 years ago, Cosma immediately found a location to open his shop. He hasn't moved since.
Uptown Auto Specialist provides a full range of car repairs and a complete body shop specializing in German-made vehicles. The shop also offers pre-purchase inspections, so customers know a used car's condition before they buy it. Cosma stresses the importance of inspections. He's encountered people planning to buy $8,000 cars who are shocked and disappointed to find out the vehicle needs $3,000 worth of repairs.
Along with pre-purchase inspections, routine maintenance is key to ensuring a car lasts for the long haul, Cosma says. Even though the need for frequent oil changes and tune-ups is decreasing in newer models, vehicles still should be inspected by a professional several times a year, he says.
"Bring (your) car in before it's completely falling apart," he says. "Fixing two or three things is a lot easier than 10, and it will be cheaper for the customer."
Cosma is proud of his business' professional technicians, all of whom are factory-trained by manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. Technicians' tenures at Uptown Auto range from 5-25 years. Cosma goes to great lengths to ensure he and his staff stay up to date on advancements in car repairs.
"It requires a constant education to keep up with new technology," Cosma says. "One of the services I pay for is information."
Trainers from major car companies teach Uptown Auto technicians how to use and repair the latest automobile technology. Cosma and his staff attend multiple training sessions a year, which last two to four days or longer. Cosma is preparing for a 10-day training session in Alaska, which he will attend with auto technicians from around the country.
Cosma does more than just attend training sessions.
"I work on the cars as well," he says. "Because a repair can be so complicated, sometimes we have to put all our heads together to find a solution."