There are times when a trip to the dealership versus your trusted home shop is necessary. Maybe there’s a warranty recall. Maybe your vehicle requires special tools.
But what if you’re stuck between deciding to take your vehicle to the dealership or an independent repair shop for service? Is the dealer more expensive than an independent shop? Can you trust independent shops? Can you trust dealerships? Of course, you’re ultimately wondering where you’ll get the best value.
While it’s a decision you’ll have to make at some point in your life, having some more information will empower you to make a decision you feel great about. Ultimately, it is a similar decision we make regarding any industry–do you prefer the experience of dealing with large corporations or small operations? Here are some things to consider:
Dealership Technicians are Highly Trained in Specific Vehicles
Many technicians at independent repair shops began their careers in dealerships. Dealerships train technicians in repairing the vehicles they sell. Especially for newer vehicles, dealership technicians have much experience in a few makes and models and can efficiently identify common defects and can perform warranty recall repairs.
Dealerships Often Have Higher Repair Bills
Although dealership technicians can quickly diagnose vehicle problems, the savings in their efficiency are not passed on to customers. With all the costs associated with running a dealership, repair bills tend to be higher.
Independent Repair Shops Care About Your Experience
Staff at independent shops will take the time to educate you, follow-up with you, and keep a relationship with you. Their relationship with you is their greatest asset so they will do everything they can to maintain it. You have the ability to form a genuine working relationship with an independent shop and have opportunities to learn about your car and how vehicles work. At Community Auto, we are always willing to provide a vehicle system lesson, show you parts and send you pictures and videos of broken components. Independent shops possess the freedom, flexibility and care to address your concerns and therefore typically provide higher quality service.
Independent Repair Shops Have High Quality Technicians
Since many technicians start their careers in dealerships and then move into the independent world, independent repair shops typically have high quality technicians. Independent shops depend on technicians who know how to fix cars they service (typically all makes and models) and do not have the resources to train as much. Same thing goes with service advisors. Since independent repair shops are not huge profit centers, they cannot afford to make many mistakes, lose consumer trust (i.e. “up-sell you”), or hire incompetent staff.
Wherever You Go, Don’t Worry About Being Taken to the Cleaners
These days, the automotive industry works to reestablish trust that has been broken between professionals and consumers. Dishonest repair shops don’t stay in business for long. One way to ensure you’re dealing with a quality shop is to see how long they’ve been in business–this is a huge indicator of how well they treat their customers. Quality shops have many controls in place to ensure transparency and consumer protection. Of course, as with all dealings, the more you know, the better off you are. If you are familiar with the parts and issues being discussed with the service advisor, you will feel better about the repair process. Our website has excellent resources for educating yourself, including an interactive vehicle systems simulator and a third-party repair estimator. While you don’t have to worry about being totally ripped off, do keep in mind that everyone has different priorities when it comes to their car, which is something service advisors at dealerships may not care to recognize. One thing I know for sure is at Community Auto, we truly do care about meeting your needs and strive to recommend services that match your goals. We are revolutionary in this sense and operate by the motto, “never put money ahead of people”.