Sooner or later every car owner will have to ask themselves if they should take their car in to the dealer or to an independent shop and it’s a question folks have asked us at All Tune & Lube Total Car Care. Both can repair your vehicle and do a good job at it but there are advantages and disadvantages to either.
So which is best for you, your car and your bank account? Here’s a look at the pros and the cons of dealer and independent repair shops. Independent repair shops are smaller and less expensive than dealer shops. And many get high marks for customer service.
“People are more satisfied with independent repair shops,” says Robert Krughoff, president of Consumers’ Checkbook, which has been rating auto repair shops since 1976. “And they tend to be less expensive than dealers.”
Independent repair shops, like All Tune and Lube Total Car Care in Tempe Arizona rely on word-of-mouth recommendations and customer referrals for much of their business. So it’s no surprise that many independent garages place a high premium on customer service and satisfaction.
Because independent shops tend to be small, with maybe three to five technicians, you’ll get to know the owner and everyone that works there. You’ll be able to ask questions directly to the mechanic working on your car.
Because of lower prices, a small independent shop is a great place to go for basic maintenance and repairs not covered by a car’s warranty. At the dealership, everything costs more.
It’s a common misconception that you have to take your vehicle in to the dealership for regular services in order to maintain you r warranty. That’s simply not true. The Magnuson-Moss Act of 1975 made it illegal for dealerships to deny warranty claims because normal service work was performed at an independent facility.
And don’t worry that a smaller garage won’t know how to fix your cars’ problem. Thanks to new software programs, today’s independent garages have nearly all the same technical and repair information as dealers.
Manufacturers publish technical service bulletins to assist technicians in diagnosing and repairing problems in cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles and a good independent will have that information.
Still, knowledge is one thing, skill is another. Make sure you choose a shop with ASE Certified technicians.ASE certification is done by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and in order to maintain their certification mechanics must pass comprehensive exams every five years.
While you r vehicle is under warranty you need to have the dealership do any warranty repairs. The dealership is able to recoup the costs of warranty repairs from the manufacturer. If you get the repair done any place else, you’ll have to foot the bill yourself. As good as the price and service may be at a small, independent garage, nothing beats getting a repair for free.
The biggest advantage of taking a car to a dealer shop is its tie to the auto manufacturer. If you have a beef with the service or a particular repair, you can always take it up with the auto manufacturer. Plus, many dealer mechanics receive factory-authorized instruction, so many of the mechanics at a dealership are likely to know their stuff.
As mentioned earlier, any repair covered by a new car warranty must be done at a dealer shop if you want it free.
One thing missing from a dealer shop is the personal touch. You hand your keys over to a service manager or service writer, not a technician or mechanic.
At a dealership you won’t often meet the mechanic working on your car. A large dealership could have 20-30 mechanics working on any given day. You could ask to talk to the tech working on your car but it will probably be a different person each time.
The other downside to taking your car into a dealer shop is the price. You tend to pay more for basic maintenance and repairs at a dealer shop. Once a new car warranty expires, there’s little tying you to a dealer shop.
You may want to compare dealer prices with a local independent garage. Tracking down a lower-priced and reliable independent garage could really trim your auto maintenance bills.
From your local mechanics, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete auto repair and maintenance in Tempe Arizona.