Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Independent Auto Repair vs. Dealership Auto Repair: 5 Things to Consider

by Marjorie Steele, Cars for Keeps Social Media Manager

"Your dealership alternative" is becoming a familiar slogan among independent auto repair shops. To be sure, independent auto repair shops - like Cars for Keeps - would like to drink some of that warrantied service milkshake, but it's not just a ploy to steal business from auto dealerships. More and more vehicle owners are actively looking for better customer service, better prices and more comprehensive repair service than auto dealerships offer.

There are many factors to weigh when choosing between auto dealership repair service and service provided by independent repair centers. In some cases, the similarities between the two may be very close, making it difficult for vehicle owners to choose. To make matters worse, a lot of misinformation has been spread to consumers about warranties, cost and parts availability.

If you, a friend or family member is struggling to choose between auto dealership service and independent repair service, we encourage you to take the following into consideration:

Vehicle warranty. Contrary to popular belief, vehicle owners have the legal right to choose anyone to be their auto repair service provider to perform services not covered under warranty, without risking losing their warranty. There will always be some services and recall-related repairs which auto dealerships can offer at a lower cost (or for free) under warranty, but these are limited, especially as the vehicle ages.

Additionally, standard dealership warranties usually expire after 12 months or 12,000 miles; highly certified independent auto repair centers (like Cars for Keeps) can often offer extended parts and labor warranties which cover terms as long as 3 years.

OEM parts. Quality independent auto repair shops like Cars for Keeps have access to the same original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts auto dealerships do; independent repair shops are often able to get OEM parts from less expensive suppliers than dealer direct, passing those cost savings down to the customer. Also, OEM parts may not always be the best solution for auto repair, and they are certainly not always the most cost-effective, yet OEM parts are the only parts auto dealerships offer. Independent dealerships offer car owners a range of parts brands, allowing car owners to cut expenses by choosing non-OEM parts, if they need to.

Labor cost. Auto dealerships and independent repair shops track their technician's hours differently; dealerships tend to standardize allotted work time, offering technicians incentive to finish jobs more quickly. Independent repair shops typically track technician work by actual hours, passing along cost savings to the customer. Independent repair shops as a whole generally offer labor at 20% less than dealerships.

Technician experience. Last but not least, auto technician experience is a very important factor when it comes to auto repair. Auto dealership technicians receive highly specialized training specific to the auto brands the dealership sells. This gives dealership technicians firm expertise on a handful of auto brands, but it also means that technicians lack expert knowledge of other brands, hindering their breadth of expertise. Highly qualified independent auto technicians are cross-trained to work on a wide spectrum of vehicles, and for technicians who work at AAA approved, Bosch and NAPA Certified independent repair centers, their level of mechanical training and knowledge is quite extensive. Experienced independent repair technicians often develop better problem solving skills as a result of their diverse experience, allowing them to fix vehicles faster, more permanently and more thoroughly.

Of course, we at Cars for Keeps are biased towards independent auto repair, so if you're still skeptical, we encourage you to try making the comparison yourself. If you do, be sure to drop us a line and tell us about your experience!


Automotive Car. Powered by Blogger.
Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Favorites More