Dealership Service or Independent Mechanic?
Cars require routine service and maintenance to operate safely and efficiently and avoid costly repairs. Should you trust your car to a local independent mechanic or the dealership? Does it really make any difference? Well, yes, actually it may.
Dealership service departments require staff to become factory authorized certified technicians who must meet and maintain corporate standards. Moreover dealerships use original equipment parts (OE) vs. generally manufactured automotive parts. In addition, dealer technicians tend to work primarily on brand vehicles. Combined with training, this offers a level of expertise that often cannot be matched.
Dealerships want to establish and maintain positive relationships with their customers. As such, many publish electronic newsletters and use social media to provide information, coupons and discounts. Dealerships may also offer online appointment scheduling, comfortable waiting rooms with refreshments and clean restrooms. Finally, if you have a problem with a dealership service department you may have the option to contact the corporate office for resolution.
Warranty work must be performed at the dealership to keep the warranty in effect. As warranty work is performed at no charge it only makes sense to have this work performed at the dealership. Maintaining a service history at a dealership may also reap rewards when you decide it is time to trade-in your vehicle.
Further, in terms of normal preventative maintenance costs, dealerships are price competitive with independent shops and national chains. It is easy to assume that independents are less expensive overall, but consider that they may not be using the manufacturers branded or recommended parts.
Conversely, independent mechanics, are often able to offer lower rates due to lower overhead. Because they are most often small businesses, you will likely establish a personal relationship with the mechanic and the same mechanic may work on your car each time. The best are certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Today, most independent shops have access to some of the same electronic information that dealers have, but not all. Manufacturers have proprietary information and diagnostics that are specific to their brands and are not available to independents, and in many cases other brand shops.
Protecting the investment in your car is well worth the time and effort. Quality service and maintenance will save you in the long run.