Auto Repair Shops vs. Dealership: How to choose

by admin on June 10, 2011

There are many factors involved when choosing between independent repair centers and auto dealerships for your car repairs and maintenance.  Thanks to improvements developed by the manufacturers, today’s vehicles require far less maintenance, particularly on vehicles built in the last 10 years. As a vehicle owner you have the legal right to choose any auto repair shop to perform services, without risking losing your warranty. Remember that auto dealerships offer recall-related services at a lower cost or for free. Also regular maintenance can vary widely depending on the shop you choose. Auto dealerships are more likely to follow the recommended service by manufacturer than auto repair shops.

Independent repair shop may be the smarter financial choice, but sometimes, paying a little extra is a wise choice. Here are things to consider when choosing between auto dealership service and independent repair service:

Compare services you receive – Comparing prices between multiple dealers and repair shops, for example a 50,000-mile service, does not guarantee you’ll be receiving the same exact service. You need to ask what is exactly included in the service as well as a breakdown of parts, labor and any other fees to determine where your best deal is.

OEM parts – Dealerships use parts that are supplied by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), whereas car repair shops use aftermarket parts unless the customer requests otherwise. OEM parts are often more expensive than aftermarket parts and may not always be the best solution for auto repair. Aftermarket fluids, filters, other car parts during the service intervals, many engine components, brakes, tires and windshield wipers are perfectly fine. For other part failures, such as sensors related to your car’s computer system and car body parts, it’s best to stick with original equipment not to result in added cost and problems later on.

Labor rates – Ask for the labor cost; labor rate and estimated time to complete the job. Auto dealerships use flat-rate system while car repair shops track their technician’s actual work hours. In the flat rate system, every repair has a published time in the labor guide. Independent repair shops may not have the lowest labor rates. Decline in car sales has forced some dealerships to lower their labor rates or offer coupons and specials.

Technician experience – Auto dealership technicians are constantly trained on the auto brands the dealership sells. Independent auto technicians are cross-trained to work on a wide variety of vehicles. Highly qualified independent repair technicians have diverse knowledge and experience, allowing them to fix vehicles faster and more thoroughly.

Think about convenience when deciding where to go for car repairs. A free loaner car or a courtesy shuttle is offered by some dealers, while a repair shop will expect you to find your own ride. Regardless of the best financial choice, choose a shop that you feel comfortable working with.  A good service adviser or a mechanic who listens to your concerns and answers your questions thoroughly is priceless.

Leave a Comment

Previous post: