This Diesel Truck Dealer Is Donating Cars to Those in Need

OC Autos is a woman-owned and operated dealer with different management and goals than most.

Mallory Short/Hero

Most people dread car dealers and avoid going to them whenever possible. The sleazy sales tactics and overpriced unnecessary repairs perpetrated by some dealers over the years have given all of them a bad name. Bushra Salman had a dream of changing all that.

"I was a first-hand witness to the numerous times my mother would save her hard-earned money for months just to be able to either buy a modest but decent vehicle, just to find out that she was ripped-off yet again by a very charming and friendly salesperson," Salman told The Drive. "Or when she would go to a repair facility just to get a basic oil change and leave with a $2,000 bill for a completely unnecessary list of repairs that her car supposedly needed. All because these repair facilities felt it was okay to prey on a woman who obviously didn't know any better."

When Salman founded OC Autos in Santa Ana, California in 2010 she wanted to run a dealership that reflected her values. "Most of my awesome staff do not actually have a background in the auto industry, other than my technicians. My main goal when bringing new team members on board is to hire individuals who are already onboard with the OC Autos vision, which is unlike any other dealership in this industry where the dollar signs are priorities number 1 through 10."

Salman also made the decision to focus her business on diesel trucks, mainly GM's Duramax and Ram's Cummins-powered models. OC Autos keeps some Ford Powerstroke models in stock as well, but Salman says they are less reliable, particularly older ones.

OC Autos

Why the focus on diesel? "Honestly, in the beginning, it was because we knew that it would be a successful business model," Salman says. "No real competition and no one we were coming across in the industry really knew anything about the diesel engine." Salman and her husband had fallen in love with the torque and versatility of diesel trucks while living in Texas. She saw a market niche she could take advantage of in California while sticking to her ethics in the way she does business.

In addition to being a more customer-friendly dealership than most, OC Autos offers classes to teach customers about how to buy and maintain their vehicles and, most importantly, how to avoid getting ripped off the way her mother did. But Salman's pet project is Relief on Wheels.

When Salman was 16 she got a job in Los Angeles and had to rely on public transportation. "It was rough," Salman says, "Especially being a young girl who could have been easy prey to just about anyone. It was intimidating and scary every single day that I walked onto that bus." Salman dreamed of having her own car. "Not for my ego to be satisfied, or so that I can show it off, or anything of that sort. Just to feel normal, and independent, and safe." Alas, she couldn't afford one.

"I remember the first day we opened our doors for business in 2010, we set an intention that one day if given the capability, we are going to donate a car to someone in need on a monthly basis. We are not there yet; presently, we donate a car on a quarterly basis, but I am determined to make it a monthly occurrence one day in the near future. Each time we have had the pleasure to donate a vehicle to a family in need has made me feel like the most successful person in the world, regardless of what my balance sheet may have looked like in that moment."

OC Autos is a shining example of how dealers can fight their negative stereotypes and provide quality products and services to their communities without engaging in underhanded sales tactics. "The fact that we are a woman-owned and operated company has already been an enormous step to breaking the never-ending list of stereotypes of what women should or should not be doing, and I am very proud of that."