At some point, every luxury car owner grapples with this decision: should you take your car to a dealer or independent shop for maintenance and repairs? Both can meet your auto repair needs and both come with their own personal set of pros and cons. Regardless of anyone else’s advice, you have to make the decision that’s best for you and your car. Here’s a look at some of the drawbacks and perks of going to an independent shop or dealer. This list can’t make the decision for you but it should make choosing a little bit easier.
Nine times out of ten, independent garages are smaller and less expensive than dealer shops. They also tend to get higher marks for customer service than dealer shops do. Because independent shops are often smaller, you have the opportunity to get to know the mechanic working on your car. You also have more of an opportunity to ask the auto repair technicians question and learn more about your import.
If you’re worried that a smaller garage may not be equipped to handle your car’s unique issues and maintenance requirement, you really have no reason to worry. Thanks to new software programs, independent garages across the country have access to the same repair information as dealers. Honestly, the only downside to going to an independent shop is giving up your new-car warranty. For a repair to be covered by a new-car warranty, it must be taken to the dealer.
Dealers have a leg up on most independent shops because of their direct ties to the manufacturer of your car. The downside is that you rarely ever see the technician who’s working on your car so you can often miss out on a lot of important and interesting information. You can always ask to speak to the mechanic when you bring your car in to be serviced by the dealer. You just need to be prepared to speak to a different mechanic every time you go.
Another downside to taking your car to the dealer instead of an independent shop is the price. You tend to pay twice as much (if not more) at a dealer than you do an independent garage. Once your new-car warranty is up though, there isn’t much keeping you tied to the dealer. If you take a moment to really compare the two side-by-side, this is what you should see:
A dealership lacks personal touch and slaps you with an unbelievable bill every time you need an auto repair post-warranty.
An independent garage provides you with well-trained technicians (just like a dealer does) but places real emphasis on customer service.
Making a Choice
If you’re still not sold on the idea of choosing an independent garage over a dealer to service your import take some time and compare prices, speak with some local technicians, and let them sell you on the idea themselves. If you do your research, you’ll find that you can receive the same quality maintenance and repairs from an independent garage at half the cost of a dealer and friendlier service.