Recently opened used car business in Auburn is family affair

By: Gloria Young,
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Wells Auto Sales
Where: 701 Grass Valley Highway
Phone: (530) 886-8422
Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday by appointment (flexible and later hours as needed to accommodate customers’ schedules).


For used car dealership owner Ron Wells, an important part of being in business is giving back to the community. Wells, who owns a car lot in Placerville, recently expanded to a Highway 49 location in Auburn.
He’s been in the car business since 1995. That includes experience at dealerships in Sacramento and the Roseville Automall as well as at Magnussen’s Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Auburn.
When the opportunity arose to purchase the Placerville business three years ago, he was ready to make the move. He opened Wells Auto Sales in Auburn a couple of months ago.
“We’re familiar with the Auburn area. It’s a lot like Placerville, but bigger,” he said. “It’s a good family place to run a business. We grew so large in Placerville, we wanted a bigger lot.”  
Wells divides his time between the two sites and other family members provide the rest of the staffing. His wife Tammy Wells and daughter Stacey work in the office. Sons Junior and Jack handle sales.  Son Aaron works with his dad at both locations.  
“Being in the car business, you do have to work a lot of hours,” he said. “With the family working with this, we’re not always away from each other.”
The family is also very involved in an auto ministry at Green Valley Community Church in Placerville. The program repairs cars and makes vehicle donations to assist needy families — particularly single mothers.  A small auto shop on church grounds provides oil changes and brake repairs at no cost for those in need, Wells said.
“Our part (in the ministry) is I may take a car in on trade and instead of taking it to auctions, I might fix it up, get it smogged and safety-ed and make sure it is a good running car and then donate it to the church’s auto ministry, which will then donate it to a family that needs a car,” he said. “There’s a line of people waiting for these cars.”
Recipients don’t have to be members of the church, but there’s a screening process to become eligible for car services or to receive a car donation.
“They have to provide insurance and do the DMV,” he said. “We provide the car.  They just have to go to DMV and register it. Our goal is to try to do at least one a month or try to do 15 in a year. The donation of the cars we do on our own. Robinson’s Automotive in Placerville donates his time as well.
“It’s my way to give back to the community. I was sitting in church one day and asking where is my ministry. A screen came up for the auto ministry that they needed cars. First, it was just to donate the cars. But the more involved I got with the church, it then extended to fixing them up and getting them ready (to drive).  It’s my calling from God.”
Wells and his wife also help raise funds for Hope House, a transitional home in Placerville for women and children.
“The home was started about six years ago for single women with children who are in recovery from battered relationships or drug use,” Tammy Wells said.  
At Robinson’s Automotive, owner Marty Robinson handles repairs for the vehicles that pass through Wells’ two lots.
“What I like about Ron is that he repairs the things that need to be repaired on a vehicle … I tell him what needs to be done,” Robinson said. “Like if (the car) has a bad left shock, some (auto dealers) would only repair the left shock, but he repairs both. If the brakes are 50 percent or less, it is an automatic replacement. He goes over and above seeing that the cars he puts on his lot are superior.”
Wells credits his success to the way he runs the business.
“We do it a little differently,” he said. “We do our deals with a handshake. … My sons can make a decision as well as I can. They don’t have to call or ask for permission to sell a car. We sit down together and figure out what (the customer) wants.  It’s a quick easy deal. We sit down at the computer and (complete the deal) on the lot.”
Wells said his inventory of vehicles ranges in price from $5,000 up to $40,000. The selection includes cars, trucks, 4 by 4s — even motorcycles.
“In spring and summer is when I sell (the most) motorcycles,” he said. “I enjoy riding so that’s my excuse to carry them here.”
The most important aspect of the business, for him, is that it is family owned, “where I have something built for my family to follow through and inherit going through the years,” he said.