It’s important for a vehicle owner to find a trusted, reliable service location. All manufacturer’s have their own set of recommendations specific for each year, make and model however, it’s almost standard every vehicle will need to go into the shop at least once or twice a year for routine maintenance. Since many cars are purchased from dealerships, it’s very common to go back for service, but is that the best thing to do?
Let’s settle this by looking at the pros and cons of getting service at a dealership:
Well Trained Mechanics
One of the major advantages of getting service at a dealership is that the mechanics are highly trained and certified from the manufacturer. These mechanics have earned the specialization with your vehicle’s brand and often receive ongoing, required training to constantly stay abreast of new technologies. They can normally diagnose any issue and get it repaired quickly because dealerships have specialized equipment and a parts department on site.
Dealerships tend to have the latest, most efficient equipment to keep pace with the constant innovations of the automotive industry. For instance, a dealership selling electric or hybrid vehicles requires specialized diagnostic tools and machinery that a smaller independent shop may not have because they do not see the type of volume in those vehicles to warrant such a purchase. The same can apply to luxury vehicles or more complicated repair jobs; some smaller shops many not want to take on that liability due to inexperience with certain models or lack of appropriate tools to adequately complete.
If your car is under warranty and something goes wrong, the dealership will fix it for free, but it can only be taken to a dealership for service for it to be covered under warranty. Similarly, recalls can only be serviced by a vehicle specific dealership. Many consumers prefer dealerships because of the comfort factor that if a problem arose, there will always be someone higher up on the corporate ladder to rectify a situation and provide accountability.
You are Just another Customer
Dealerships service thousands of customers. Because of the heavy volume, mechanics barely, if ever, have an opportunity to get acquainted with vehicle owners. It’s a very impersonal transaction. Dealerships try to service vehicles as soon as possible and get them out of their bays to turnover more. It’s unlikely the next time a vehicle gets serviced by the same mechanic at a dealership they will even remember, whereas going to a local independent shop customers and mechanics can build more rapport.
Dealership’s tend to be the most expensive place to have a vehicle serviced. They have to pay union mechanic wages and with each year of seniority the wages can continue to rise. Parts are also generally marked up greater than retail. Dealerships are a lot larger than national or independent shops so have higher overhead. To offset these fixed costs, they increase prices and the consumer foots the bill.
It all comes down to your personal satisfaction. Dealerships are staffed with top talent and this talent costs more. You can find high quality car care if you ask around and find a place that values its reputation.