Tuesday, June 18, 2024

St. Regis local offers mobile mechanic service

Mineral Independent | November 1, 2023 12:00 AM

When the check engine light is flashing, or you can no longer ignore the unsettling sound coming from under the hood of your car it’s time to get your vehicle into the shop. But when it’s a serious automotive issue sometimes you just shouldn’t limp your car down the road another mile, that’s when a mechanic that makes house calls makes so much sense. 

 And when the mobile repairmen has the passion, skillset, and mechanical repertoire like St. Regis graduate, Bryce Dellinger, you know your vehicle is in good hands – mostly likely greasy ones. 

“I can’t quite remember the first time working on a vehicle, but I’d always help my dad with maintenance and repairs on our vehicles since I could dang near hold a wrench,” Dellinger remarked. “My Dad taught me fractions and math from all the wrench and socket sizes years before I would even learn stuff like that in school.”

Dellinger was born in Missoula, grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, then moved back to Montana in 2009. He shared, “It all started from a very young age, my Dad got me interested in racing and cars and trucks. Growing up in Las Vegas, we were surrounded by some of the nicest rides in the country. Classics, customs, choppers and Harleys, rat rods, drag cars, top fuel, NHRA, Nascar, etc. The scene is just huge down there.” 

At seven years old he learned how to weld aluminum, most kids that age are perfecting how to tie their shoe laces. Then Dellinger went on to build his very own BMX bike. He gleaned much of what he knows from his father, “He taught me how to weld, fabricate, turn wrenches and so much more. I’ve always been interested in cool and custom and fast stuff, all thanks to my Dad,” expressed Dellinger. 

He and his wife, Tessa, settled in Superior a little over a year ago, and both have started up their own businesses. His wife makes and deliveries homemade baked goods, and Dellinger is using his extensive mechanical background and training to start up his own Mobile Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, that will serve all of Mineral County. 

The longtime gearhead is now proudly an ASE Master Automobile Technician. After graduating from St. Regis High School in 2015, Dellinger explained, “I attended the two-year Automotive Technology program at North Idaho College, which counted as one year towards the required two for ASE Master Tech status. I was in the first class to graduate from the brand-new Parker Technical Education Center in 2017.”

After working part time, he recalled, “I had the required industry experience and took all A1-A8 tests and passed, becoming and ASE Master Tech when I was 20 years old.” This series of tests encompasses engine repair, automatic transmissions and transaxle, manual drive train and axles, suspension and steering, brakes, electrical/electronic systems, heating and air conditioning, and lastly engine performance. 

“I have always dreamt of being self-employed. I’m a motivated self-starter who wants to work. I don’t have time to sit around waiting until 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. to get up and go, just to line someone else’s pockets who doesn’t put their heart and soul into the work like I do,” Dellinger exclaimed. “I don’t like a scheduled lunch break, being told when I can eat and how long I have to eat. I like to work at my own pace and just do what feels right. The sky is the limit with self-employment.” 

Truthfully, he’d always envisioned himself building cool rods and customs, but never really imagined being on the general repair side of automotive, but it’s what pays the bills. 

Dellinger stated, “You need to learn all the basics and how everything operates anyways. I don’t know how many people I’ve met who want to build hot rods and race cars, but they haven’t a clue on any of the fundamentals. Engines are just air pumps that use fuel which is ignited to burn the oxygen.” He added, “You can’t skip steps, it doesn’t matter if it’s a minivan or a three-thousand horsepower dragster, the same principles apply to both.”

Having a mobile tech service out in a rural area like Mineral County is a pretty ingenious business venture. Dellinger noted, “There are never enough techs out there, and almost every shop in the nation needs a tech, so to have access to someone who is skilled and certified go directly to you is awesome.” 

He added, “I enjoy being able to use my skillset to help the community that I spent some time growing up in. Everything comes full circle and happens for a reason. I am blessed to be able to live in a place like this and can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

For any other mechanically inclined gearheads like Dellinger he has some advice. He confessed, “I was never interested in school much. I hated school and I’d always try to find excuses not to go. I always got good grades and learned just fine, but I just didn’t like school.” But that all changed when he went to a trade school. “Going to school for something you’re interested in and want to do is a whole lot better than going to school and being forced to learn stuff you don’t care about, and that makes it so much easier to retain information and to learn,” he explained.

Dellinger expressed, “When I went to school in St. Regis I took a small engines class, welding, and drafting. Mr. Dave Jensen is one of the best teachers I ever had.”

Regardless of what career or trade you pursue he acknowledged, “The most important things are work ethic, drive, and passion. If you don’t have those you’ll never succeed, school or not. Also, pay attention in school, because if you can’t do basic math, simple algebra, geometry, or read a tape measure, and aren’t willing to pay attention and become proficient with it, do not pursue a trade that has to do with mechanics because you will epically fail.”

An average day for Dellinger as a mobile mechanic looks different with every sunrise. “It’s something new all the time. Sometimes I’m staying in Superior doing brakes and oil changes, some days I’m driving 40 miles away and doing bigger jobs like engine swaps. I’ve serviced home generators, done a bit of metal art, welding and fabrication, etc.,” described Dellinger. 

He noted, “I take on almost anything right now and it’s kind of all over the place, but I make it work. I have pretty much all my tools and equipment with me, but I obviously can’t have everything a full-blown shop does, like an a/c machine is one of the first things that comes to mind.” 

A very common automotive ailment is calls for check engine lights. Dellinger said, “Diagnosis of engine performance problems and electrical problems are some of my favorites. I like the more complex problems, especially the ones that other people have tried diagnosing but couldn’t find the problem. Vehicle electrical systems are one of my strongest areas of focus.”

In the last eight years, there hasn’t been a vehicle he wasn’t been able to diagnose, with the exception of the few customers who didn’t want to pay for a second hour of advanced diagnostics for intermittent or more difficult problems to find.

“It can get difficult to do mobile work at peoples’ houses. A lot of people don’t have garages, either which makes it more challenging. I’m a Montanan though and tough it out and get through it. Improvise, adapt and overcome,” Dellinger shared. “The weather hasn’t stopped me yet, although I am nervous for the winter as this will be my first winter being mobile and working outside on cars.” 

Like so many in the market for property or housing, Dellinger and his wife are still searching for a place of their own and the potential to have a shop for his business as well. Looking ahead he pondered, “My goal for my business is to stay in business, I guess. I’d like to expand and get into my own shop building. In 10 years, I hope to have a fully functioning shop with a couple of good techs and enough equipment to be capable of doing just about anything possible on a vehicle. Even with a shop, I would like to continue offering my mobile services to help the community.”

Aside from being a gearhead, Dellinger’s most prized roles are being a husband, and a father to his one-year-old son, Walter. He has a few other hobbies too, like playing the guitar, woodworking, being in the outdoors and hiking to area lakes. 

But like most shade tree mechanics, Dellinger has a project vehicle of his own. He admitted however, “I only like to work on my own vehicles if it’s something I want to upgrade or improve.” Like his recently acquired 1982 GMC SWB square body truck that is going to be the little street truck project with a high compression, naturally aspirated small block chevy 350 build. But that’s a work in progress. Dellinger will save his elbow grease and knuckle power for everyone else’s rigs that are in need of repairs. To schedule an appointment with Bryce Dellinger, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician, he can be reached at 406-499-6469.