The Car Repair Quandary: Using A Dealership Or Independent Shop

Best place to get my car repairedWith gas prices soaring, credit lines shrinking, and the economy still far from recovered, individuals are constantly seeking ways to spend their money more wisely. Most of us can agree that car repairs can be costly and are a cause of major concern for any vehicle owner on a budget.

Over the decades, battles have ensued between franchise auto dealerships and independent repair shops as they compete for the repair work of local vehicle owners. In time, it has become evident that dealerships and independent shops each have their own advantages and disadvantages, creating uncertainty in the mind of a car owner trying to decide where to get his or her vehicle serviced.

Franchise dealerships can be known to have generally higher prices, but this is often due to conveniences, amenities, and also assurances not typically afforded by independent shops. Factors such as technology changes, warranties, and improved auto part quality have changed the auto repair game, and the old rule of thumb that dealerships provide better quality and independent shops are cheaper is not necessarily a given.

Americans spent an average of $1,209 per year when taking their cars to dealerships as opposed to $903 when only getting serviced by independent shops. – AutoMD.com

Training and Certification Make a World of Difference

When it comes to the quality of repairs, the training and experience of any auto repair shop’s employees makes the difference. To meet manufacture requirements, franchise dealerships must provide certain training to all mechanics and must purchase specific equipment to be used on the brand of cars their dealership sells. Also, mechanics at franchise dealerships tend to work on a smaller variety of car makes, allowing them to potentially become more specialized on your particular vehicle’s model. According to Tom Torbjornsen of AOL Autos, “Dealers also have access to proprietary information, usually one (1) year’s worth of information on new vehicles they sell and service. This means that no one else can access this information, which is often necessary for diagnosis and repair.”

“Dealers also have access to proprietary information, usually one (1) year’s worth of information on new vehicles they sell and service.” – Tom Torbjornsen, AOL Autos

Years ago, any car enthusiast with mechanical know-how and a few tools could open an independent corner repair shop and was not held to any quality of service standards. Times have changed though as independent mechanics now must purchase specialized equipment, upgrade computer software, and participate in training programs on an ongoing basis if they intend to keep up with the advancing auto technology on newer car models. Although independents usually are not as specialized on one make or model in comparison to a dealership, being a “jack of all trades” in the auto repair industry allows the independent to diagnose a wide range of problems, including those that are often hard to identify.

There are a number of industry certifications an independent repair shop can obtain to show they are up to date with training and certain other requirements. As recommended by an article written by Alina Tugend of The New York Times, “Customers should check if the repair shop has a blue seal of excellence (offered by Automotive Service Excellence Organization) — about 400,000 mechanics nationwide do.” Other notable certifying bodies include NAPA Autocare, Triple-A and PPG Certification.

“Customers should check if the repair shop has a blue seal of excellence (offered by Automotive Service Excellence Organization).”

Aside from quality, consumers are most concerned about auto repair costs. AutoMD.com gathered data about repair costs, concluding that Americans spent an average of $1,209 per year when taking their cars to dealerships as opposed to $903 when only getting serviced by independent shops. Because of OEM requirements, franchise dealerships typically have higher overhead costs which in turn create higher repair pricing to service customers, but dealerships have made strides recently to become more competitive, plus as mentioned earlier franchise dealerships are more likely to include amenities and conveniences such as free loaner vehicles (nice ones), car washes, lounges with cafe, internet, etc.

How to Choose Between Dealership and Independent

It’s inevitable; your car will need repair and maintenance work at some point in time. You can spend hours or days researching dealerships and garages online, getting quotes and estimates before you make an appointment. One hassle you will find is that you must repeat yourself by giving each service provider the same information about your budget and repair needs.

“The best part about AutoConverse.com is that you do not have to give up your personal contact information to work with dealers and merchants.”

At AutoConverse.com, you can alleviate some of this hassle by creating a repair request in your local market. When you do this, a notice goes out to all dealership and service garage members in your market on our site , giving them the information they need to come back to you with questions, estimates, and quotes. You won’t have to provide any of them with your personal contact information, because they will be required to use the forum and messaging features of the site to communicate with you. Then once you have selected which service provider you want to have work on your vehicle, you can make arrangements with that provider via telephone, email, or on their website. The choice is yours.

So don’t be shy. make a repair request today and be on your way to locating the right mechanic for you. With the right mechanic and proper routine car of your car, you can effectively reduce the chances of your beloved vehicle turning into a money-pit.

Auto Enthusiast and Contributor. Big fan of muscle cars and classics. I get excited by high performance automobiles and powerful engines. Also enjoy helping people with dealers. If I can be of assistance in any way do not hesitate to contact me.

About the Author

AC Jones
Auto Enthusiast and Contributor. Big fan of muscle cars and classics. I get excited by high performance automobiles and powerful engines. Also enjoy helping people with dealers. If I can be of assistance in any way do not hesitate to contact me.

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