Hooptie Rescue

Table of Contents



Welcome to HooptieRescue.com!

We are leading the charge in reforming modern auto repair.

Automobiles are as complex as any automated industrial process machinery these days.

Technically, they are “embedded (computer) systems!”

Our techs are embedded systems specialists (as well as mechanics).

We also are experts at mining various online resources to see what problems similar vehicles to yours have had (and sometimes innovative/cheap solutions).

Often the greatest challenge in car repair is an accurate diagnostic while the actual repair itself is fairly trivial (and there are plenty of highly qualified mechanics out there to do the latter).

What many mechanics don’t realize is that fixing it right the first time is ultimately the cheapest way to go (but customers inherently know this, probably because they have to go thru the time and bother of bringing it back again, or shopping it around to another mechanic/shop to see if they can fix it, and then another, and another, ad nauseam!).

We specialize in diagnostics!

We have no motivation to sell you parts because we don’t even sell parts! We have no motivation to sell you unnecessary repairs because our highest calling (and highest pay) is to figure out exactly what’s wrong with your car and move on to the next diagnostic!

Do we also do repairs?

Yes we can do some light repairs like fixing a broken wire (e.g. when we’ve already torn into your wiring harness to figure out where it’s broken), cutting off the end of a split vacuum line then re-attaching it, etc… Sometimes we’ll even do (or consult on) some mechanical repairs like if it’s something that you might have difficulty getting done really right by the shops in the area (and we feel really sorry for you) such as aligning a complex timing chain or re-solder flowing one of your electronic modules (but these are definitely not the norm).


TL;DR version

Many times, but the time your machine gets to us, it’s next stop is the junk yard. Although we strive to make that not happen, unless you specifically give us written instructions otherwise, we are going to dive in and as quickly and thoroughly as possible tell you, if not exactly what is wrong with it, whether it’s worth fixing or not.

Our rates and policies are structured so our mutual goals are in alignment and we can get to the solution as cheaply and effectively as possible for you while at the same time insuring Hooptie Rescue can continue to provide excellent service to you and future customers.

Agreement in effect

By hiring us you agree to the following:

The contents of this website on the date you deposited funds with us (or escrow them) is the agreement that is in effect between us, and only until those particular funds are exhausted in a first in-first out manner, after which, if subsequent deposits are made, the former agreement is extinguished and the agreement in effect becomes this website when those later funds were so deposited/escrowed1.

Your objectives

It is your responsibility to clearly communicate to us what the complaint with your car is, preferably in writing2 (but usually if you don’t, we’ll email you a “memorandum” of what you told us for your review, which you need to do and get back to us with any corrections at least 3 days before your appointment to make sure we got it right or any mistake we subsequently make is on you).

Read this carefully:

  • good
  • fast
  • cheap

Pick any two!

Sadly the reality of the world is you usually can’t have it all.

Unless you clearly communicate to us what your priorities are, we are going to default to “good” and “fast” service from us (which will not necessarily be cheap, but most people want a quality diag/repair the first time even if it costs a bit more as mentioned above).

If, on the other hand, say, you just need your car to get you to an emergency appointment or job and you need us to hack it together, we might be able to accommodate you3.

If you’re broke, but you have time to let us come work on your car in our “down time,” for example, or you could bring your car nearer to us (where it would probably have to be parked on the street but it has historically been in an industrial, very safe area – but no promises) we might be able to save you some travel costs or give you an even greater discount. For extremely high value cars, for an additional fee we may even be able to accommodate you within a secure gated industrial facility near us for short to medium length work (for example, not exceeding 4-5 days).

How We Charge

“One” Diagnostic

Often times it is difficult to determine exactly what “one diagnostic” is, as a car can have several problems that are contributing to one symptom.

For instance, we recently did a 1974 Mercedes 450SL where the complaint was it “wouldn’t start,” (and for the short periods when it did thanks to the efforts of other mechanics it would run terribly) but it had sat unused for quite a while so its list of contributing problems were:

  1. bad fuel
  2. bad cold start injector
  3. bad port injector
  4. stuck/sticky vacuum advance
  5. bad fuel pump (that actually failed during the diagnostic)
  6. bad ignition coil (also failed during diagnostic)
  7. much raw gas in the engine oil (as both injectors above were stuck open and spraying into the cylinders)
  8. ignition timing way off
  9. prior “mechanics” swapping several potentially good factory original parts for bad/questionable ones (while disposing of the originals).

In hindsight there was no way to know exactly which of its issues was the most significant (as most were pretty serious) and obviously it would not be fair to only charge one diagnostic fee for such a car as to track down and repair all these problems took many days, so our rates are designed to accommodate you the customer as far as possible while at the same time making sure such a job doesn’t make us go broke in the process!

During a “fixed-price” diagnostic essentially what happens is when we find what we consider to be a “contributing problem” to your ultimate complaint (e.g. the “bad cold start injector” to the “not starting” complaint above), if we decide we’d like to have a go at fixing it (by the hour for the number of hours that you pre-fund/authorize – we don’t do estimates!!!), and we correct that issue but it still doesn’t resolve your ultimate complaint, then we continue the diagnostic with no additional charge (other than travel and related expenses of course).

If we decide we don’t want to try and correct that issue, but you personally correct that issue (or take it to someone else who does), and that doesn’t solve the said complaint, then (if you call us back within a reasonable time of when we found that contributing issue, e.g. 30 days) we continue the diagnostic for no additional charge.

If we decide we would like to take a stab at correcting the issue and you decide you don’t want us to, then when you either fix it yourself or you take it to someone else and it still doesn’t resolve the complaint, then we’ll continue the diagnostic for half of the amount of the previous diagnostic fee you paid (e.g. it could be 1/4 of a full diagnostic fee if we are in the 2nd cycle of this latest process). See our fixed-price diagnostic workflow chart below for more details.

Our Rate(s)

Our current hourly rate is $104 which we call a Hooptie Unit, or HOONIT for short.

If you’re interested, see 4 for how we compute this.

Our fee includes travel time to and from your location starting at the closer of Point Richmond California or wherever we happen to have an available technician at the time of your appointment5, or Point Richmond, whatever is shorter, and wherever he’s going to afterwards or back to Point Richmond, CA, also whichever is shorter. If your issue requires multiple visits or overnight stays then you could either pay for those, choose to wait until we’ll be in your neighborhood again, or bring your car closer to where we are going to be (usually near our headquarters at Point Richmond, CA).

As some diagnostics can get quite involved (possibly running all day or even several days in extreme cases) we have a special of a “3 HOONIT diagnostic.”

Does this mean your car will be fixed for that price?

No, but it can greatly reduce your economic risk.

The price of a HOONIT in U.S. dollars (or any other mutually agreed upon medium) is its price on the day it is paid/deposited with us or a mutually agreed upon third party. See Payment below. The amount refunded will be in U.S. Dollars deposited with us (or an escrow) regardless of the then current value of a HOONIT.

Our minimum unit of pay is 1/2 HOONIT (e.g. 1/2 hour) with a minimum granularity of 1/4 HOONIT (e.g. 15 minutes – although often times we can track our time, and thus account to you, down to the minute).

Workflow charts

If you are unable to zoom in on these, right click on one, select “copy link location” (or something to that effect), open a new tab (usually with Control-T), paste the previously copied link into the browser’s address bar (with Control-V), hit enter and then try zooming (usually with Control-+ or control and shift held down together while striking the “equals” sign). Then you should be able to scroll around on them with your browser’s scroll bars and follow the logic.

By the Hour Repair


Fixed-Price Diagnostic



Because we do not maintain a physical facility where we can store cars, tow trucks to tow them to it, etc… (allowing us to pass those savings on to you) we have no ability to put a “mechanic’s lien” on your car should, sadly, we have to bring you bad news regarding the viability of repairing it within a reasonable time period and for a reasonable price, which can, on occasion, discourage people from paying our bill, so we require you to secure our fee up front.

Although we try and hold a generally cheery and optimistic viewpoint about life in general, we’re not going to candy coat your situation because a) we have no motivation to do so (recalling our position on selling you on us doing your repair) and b) we know the shortest/cheapest path to getting you back on the road again is to face whatever the barrier is head on rather than directing you to all those who will just play on your hopes and dreams to line their own pockets (e.g. by guessing the problem and shotgunning parts at it)!

Regardless, you can secure our fee either by depositing the funds with us in advance, or using any number of mainstream online escrow services (understand though that these services charge a fee which you will be responsible for).

We know times are hard (this can especially true when your car is broken) so we usually try and “stand on our heads” in order to make it possible for us to do business, plus we have been known to take different kinds of payments like barter, crypto, etc… so please communicate with us your ideas!

(We are currently working on a program where we can sometimes take your car in exchange for a couple months rent on one of our vehicles, and even possibly repair/recondition your car then rent or rent-to-own it back to you for a very reasonable amount, which means mechanical headaches, and unexpected huge transportation expenses, will largely will become a thing of your past!)


Although sometimes refunds can, and generally do happen immediately, our policy is to only do our accounting once monthly, usually around the beginning of the month, so formally we are not obligated to issue refunds until the 15th of the month following when our role was finished, and then only if we finished working for you before the last week of the current month (otherwise you may have to wait for the next “accounting cycle”).

Of course, if your payment was not made in U.S. dollars, that will take special processing which you will need to arrange with us in advance.

What technically is a “fixed rate” diagnostic?

There are two kinds of problems:

you don’t know what every step is to go about solving it (but you may know a step or two that might get you closer to a solution which when completed may reveal subsequent steps, or not)
you know every step to the solution even tho those steps may not be simple, cheap, or quickly accomplished.

What a “fixed rate” diagnostic provides (unless we agree to the contrary in writing or electronically before we start work) is to reduce the problem from a non-trivial one to a trivial one. For example: if we ultimately diagnose that a wire is broken somewhere between a connector under the dashboard and the engine management computer the diagnostic is technically finished. This is true even if it may go thru several connectors on the way there. At this point the car can be repaired by either digging into the wiring loom, inspecting the intervening connectors, or just rigging up a “sister wire” to complete the circuit constructively wiring “around” the problem.

Whether you or someone you hire will conduct the repairs from that point, or we do, and at who’s discretion it is determined that the diagnostic is finished is discussed elsewhere on this website.

Your obligations to obtain a standard “fixed rate” diagnostic

(lack of any of these can cause the fixed rate to go up)

Physical workspace

We need several conditions where you are going to require us to work on your car, such as…


Your workspace must be reasonably safe (the determination of which is solely up to the discretion of our technician) such as absence of dangerous neighborhood animals, violent/disturbed neighbors or others, proximity to blatantly illegal activity, etc…

Proximity to our vehicle

We must be able to bring our vehicle in close enough to your vehicle to, for example, hook up jumper cables, connect to our Bluetooth diagnostic transponder in your car while sitting in ours, etc…

Close access to power, water, restroom, auto parts/tools store

It may complicate our diagnostic if these basic facilities aren’t close by, causing us to either raise our price for the basic diagnostic or incur more hours if we’re operating hourly.

Adequate clearance around your car

We will need your car to be where we can easily get all around and under it preferably on all 4 sides (but sometimes 3 may do, depending on the totality of the circumstances).

We will definitely want to be able to work on your car without having to be exposed to hazards such as traffic whizzing right by it, close proximity to dangerous construction sites, sharp/hazardous materials (metal scrap, broken glass, etc…), and so forth.

Work surface

We generally will need your car parked on a level, clean, paved or concrete work surface. Sometimes relatively clean and firm dirt or gravel may suffice.


Obviously weather can be a big contributing factor as to if a mobile diagnostic and/or repair can take place at a particular time. If it is going to be extremely hot, or raining, you may need to provide a covered spot for your car or we’ll need to reschedule your work.

Extreme cold and/or strong winds can also be a factor to take into consideration when selecting your spot for us to do the work.

Condition of your car

We require that your car be/have:

  • approximately a half tank full of fresh fuel of the proper type in it
  • a fully charged battery
  • clean battery terminals
  • free of vermin, clutter, and excessive filth, both in the interior and trunk
  • untouched by previous (less than competent) diagnosticians for this particular complaint

Things not to do to your car

We require that you (or anyone else on your behalf) not:

  • change any of the fluids in your car (as the condition of the old fluids can be an important clue in the cause of your complaint)
  • change parts on your car (especially without keeping the originals)
  • mess with wiring harnesses, electrical plugs, etc…
  • wash or otherwise clean the engine


If you fail to provide any of these or other reasonable accommodations for our tech and his equipment at your site without giving us prior written notice and making written arrangement with us you forfeit both the travel time cost and first HOONIT of diagnostic/repair fee!

Intermittent problems

Don’t you just hate it when your car just breaks randomly and almost never in front of the person that needs to fix it?

We hate that too. The problem is, it happens a lot!

When it happens to us here’s how we’ll proceed:

If we’re traveling to you and when we get there you’ll surrender our travel fee (and related expenses). After we do our initial evaluation of your car, if we still think it’s something we might be able to help you with you’ll surrender the first 1/3 of the diagnostic fee and we’ll spend a bit of time trying to get it to fail for us (usually an hour or two, depending on when we feel it’s yielding diminishing returns).

After that you have several options:

  1. You can just hang onto the car until you sort out under what specific, reproducible conditions it fails, then we can try again (with no additional charge on your diag fee except for travel and related expenses);
  2. You can bring the car to us so we can keep tinkering with it, driving it around a bit, etc… to see if we can make it fail, or..
  3. You can call it quits in which case we’ll refund any unused portions of your deposit.

If you initially choose option #1 above, but then later decide you want to choose #3, you can just let us know and we’ll refund any unused portions of your deposit, but after that if you want to start over you will need to deposit/escrow your full diag fee again.

If you do not contact us within a year of your appointment, if we can find you we’ll refund your money (making decision #3 above for you). If we can’t find you we’ll deposit your money with the county where the appointment was had, or last where we knew you lived, as “abandoned funds.”

We do not pay any interest on funds left with us for an extended period of time like this.

If you sell/transfer the car, and the new owner gives us satisfactory proof you also intended to transfer the deposited funds for our services to them, then we will generally honor their request to proceed (albeit at our discretion).


As doing diagnostics is usually somewhat of an open-ended proposition, time commitment wise, it can be very difficult to be precise about the exact time we will be showing up on your site especially when yours is not the first appointment of the day.

Also, where we headquarter has several railroad crossings which can, on the rare occasion, delay us for up to almost 2 hours.

When it appears we will be running behind we will do the best we can to appraise you of the situation as soon as we become aware of it and if necessary reschedule.

Emergency or After Hours Service

Generally we are only available during business hours, but can be available for prioritized service on weekends or after hours for an increased price on a case by case basis.

Our liability


We are not responsible for damage or anything taken from your car for the duration of our work on it, nor before we’ve arrived or after we’ve left.

If you have valuables in your car, an extremely valuable car, or it is in a dangerous area vandalism/damage wise, you need act accordingly and remove them or make different arrangements for where we are to work on it.

Damage/disassembly of your machine

Although we greatly strive to avoid it, you recognize and acknowledge that a through diagnostic sometimes requires partial disassembly of your machine, which can include damage/destruction of certain parts, or even make the machine more expensive/difficult to repair than what it is worth, and you agree that Hooptie Rescue will not be responsible for any of this, neither to reassemble it, make it operable, nor pay for same.

Accuracy of diagnostic

Occasionally (but rarely) it does happen that we throw a total “air ball”6 with your diagnostic, or we find ourselves painted into a corner where to proceed with the diagnostic would involve either knowledge or equipment that is clearly beyond our ability to obtain in any reasonable amount of time and/or money given the totality of the circumstances.

When that happens all we are responsible for returning to you is anything you’ve paid beyond our travel (and related expenses), hourly repair/diag fees currently expended, out of pocket expenses (e.g. for parts/materials and/or outside services used mostly or exclusively for your car), plus any currently unsurrendered 2nd/3rd portions of the fixed diagnostic fees held by us for you on retainer.

In other words, our fixed diagnostic fee is conceptually broken into the following equal parts:

  1. The “good old college try” fee7;
  2. The “we think we found something relevant” fee8
  3. The “it’s either fixed, should have been fixed by now, or you’ve given up on the project” fee9

These parts become due (from the escrow) or surrendered (from your retainer with us) upon completion of the relevant phase of the diagnostic.


As we are conceptually the “last stop” for your “Hooptie” before the junkyard10 our liability for repairs are limited to the labor amount you paid us and that’s only when the malfunction is actually our fault and not that of any third party nor a defective part you had us install.


You agree to binding arbitration with us in the following manner:

Escrowed funds

Where the funds are escrowed the escrow service will determine how the dispute gets resolved (within the limits of liability spelled out elsewhere in this website).

Retainer and/or surrendered funds

Where you have deposited a retainer with us and/or the funds have already been surrendered to us out of your retainer the arbitration will be as follows:

  1. All parties agree to operate in “good faith”11.
  2. You will select one neutral 3rd party who’s willing to hear the dispute for a reasonable sum.
  3. We will similarly select one neutral 3rd party.
  4. Compensating and paying the expenses of the aforesaid arbiters will your solely responsibility.
  5. If within a reasonable time determined to be one week a reasonable arbitration fee can not be worked out with our arbiter we will select another up to a maximum of two more.
  6. If you are unable to negotiate a reasonable sum with our selected arbiter(s) after the 3rd try, we and your selected arbiter will try and mutually select one.
  7. If that final attempt fails, then the dispute can proceed to Contra Costa county superior court in California only under the condition that it will be under the judicial power jurisdiction under the rules of common law pleading (e.g. no discovery unless/until equity maxims have been satisfied, joinder of issue of a single point of fact or law is achieved, review of the trial court is by writ of error rather than appeal, etc…).
  8. Those two parties shall examine the dispute and determine the resolution within the limits of our liability spelled out elsewhere in this website.
  9. If those parties can not agree on the resolution, they will select a “tie breaker” individual mutually agreeable to both of them to determine the dispute.
  10. Under no circumstances will Hooptie Rescue be responsible for customer’s court/attorney’s fees nor costs.

What kind of machinery can we work on


We can work on any car, pickup, truck, van, SUV, etc… so long as it’s privately owned12 and it’s primary purpose13 isn’t the transportation of other people’s (not the owner’s) persons or property for hire along the public right of ways while making a “specific charge therefore” (i.e. used for the privilege of making a private profit off of a public resource).

In other words, if your car, truck, etc… is primarily used in the ordinary course of life and/or (non-commercial transportation) business we should be able to work on it.

Regrettably, we can not work on motorcycles.

Marine, Agricultural, Construction, Industrial

Yes, we can, and do work on these type of machines if we are, or can easily be, properly equipped to do so. Please ask.

Social Media

From time to time we make and post interesting diagnostic case studies on social media and by doing business with us you agree that you and/or your friends or family’s images may become included in our postings and that we can use your first or nick names unless you in writing specifically tell us in advance of us showing up at your site that you withdraw your consent for same.

Naturally we are diligent to not disclose more specific information about you all such as your addresses, license plate numbers, etc… but you agree to hold us harmless for anything less than gross negligence in that effort, and then only to the extent of the money you’ve actually paid us as per Arbitration section of this website.


“What you did was perfect. After a couple of local shade tree mechanics looked at my car for hours, you stuck your hand in the air intake, Googled something, and within a couple minutes figured it out. You asked me for some shoebox cardboard and 15 minutes later you’d built a gasket and installed it and now my car still runs perfect. It made a little noise afterward but that was only because I didn’t follow up having a metal gasket made like you said.” ~ Chris

  1. - Magalia, CA


You can contact us via email (or send us money via PayPal) here: Email@HooptieRescue.com

You can send us SMS (text) messages or voice call us when you know we are “in the field” at (510)375-7156

You can voice call us any time at (530)636-6669

If no one answers we are probably busy rescuing other hoopties so please leave a message and someone will get back to you right away!

You can also visit our Facebook Page and message us there.

Don’t forget to check our YouTube channel for current case studies and more!




this website is under version control and backed up on systems on two opposite sides of the globe so we have a record of exactly what was changed and when.


which can include email, SMS messaging, FaceBook messenger, basically any method where a neutral 3rd party handles the traffic between us in a persistent, i.e. non-volatile manner so we both have a record of what was said.


but then recognize you proceed at your own risk and if you bad mouth us because it broke again right after you get to where you needed to go expect us to take legal action on that to protect our reputation – because honestly, there’s just no pleasing a very small minority of people – but conversely, we do welcome and encourage honest reviews of our services in social media!


In order to combat inflation (and not have to constantly figure out a fair rate for our price considering things such as the consumer price index, price of fuel, food, etc…) our hourly rate is based upon something commonly available and tangible: the melt value of the metals in $100 worth of US nickel coins (one dollar’s worth being a mix of 75% copper and 25% nickel alloy weighing 100 grams or 1 “hectogram,” or “HCN,” standing for *H*ectogram *C*opper *N*ickel, pronounced “hexen”) as can be seen on the following website:


Periodically we will adjust the number of hexens of our fee but only based upon our workload or unusual requests of our clients, like the high or low priority of the service request, amount of work the client is willing to do himself perhaps with us consulting over the phone with an occasional “check in” to see how they’re progressing, etc…


Sometimes our tech will be in your area on other non-diagnostic related business in which case there will be almost no travel time, or they might be in your area doing a diagnostic in which case we will try and split the travel fee between you and that (or those) other client(s).


a basketball sports term for shooting and missing the basket, hoop, backboard, net, etc… in other words the ball misses everything but the air.


the 1/3 we get for showing up, doing an initial evaluation – usually limited to about 5-15 minutes – and determining we are capable of giving you any actual helpful information about your complaint that’s reasonably likely to help lead you it’s resolution (which sometimes can just be proving to you what some other mechanic proposed the solution was is infeasible).


the 1/3 we get for thinking we have found a demonstrable issue which substantially contributes to resolving your ultimate complaint about the car


the 1/3 we get when your complaint’s been fully fixed, a reasonable amount of time has elapsed (generally 30 days), or you’ve sold/junked it or otherwise given up on fixing it


although we hope you’ll come to use first to potentially save yourselves and us a lot of grief


deemed to be “honesty in fact” and “reasonable commercial standards”


e.g. not part of a government fleet


if you occasionally Uber or DoorDash with your car we should still be okay so long as it isn’t your “primary” (i.e. more than 50%) use of it.

Author: Kevin Haddock, CTO

Created: 2023-10-23 Mon 09:15