The last thing any car owner wants to think about is having to bring their car anywhere for service. But, when that dreaded day comes, you have to choose between taking it back to the dealership where you bought it or finding a trusted local mechanic to do the work.
Which is the better choice of the two?
It turns out it may depend on what you’re having done. Check out our pros and cons list for both options.
First, you need to know that you are under no obligation to return to the dealership to keep your warranty. You can go to any authorized mechanic to get the work done, just be sure to keep records of each visit and follow the terms of your lease and warranty. Most warranties ask for you to keep record of outside services done to your car, so records will come in handy if you do eventually go back to the dealer.
The major appeal of having the dealership work on your vehicle is that the technicians work exclusively on that brand. Dealerships have access to more resources dedicated to their make/model and receive regular training to keep up with all the updates. This makes them experts, where a local mechanic may not work on cars like yours on a regular basis.
On newer model cars, with all the advanced technology that they often have, it may be wiser to go to the dealer. They’ll have the proper tools to run the diagnostics on your vehicle that an independent shop may not have access to.
It can also be smart to build a relationship with your car dealer, especially if you plan on buying from them again in the future. If you take your car in for all your warranty work there, and then need a repair once your car is out of warranty, they may be able to offer you better prices, or give you added perks, that a smaller shop may not be able to.
Dealerships may also be able to offer you an extended warranty through your car maker, which can help if your vehicle needs further work down the road. This would be a good purchase if you are planning on moving or if you travel with your car frequently. If your warranty or extended warranty is through your automaker, it should be honored at dealerships nationwide.
The other option is taking your car to an independent mechanic. They typically tend to be less expensive than a dealership. However, most mechanics are paid on an hourly basis. Be warned that they may take longer in order to charge you more.
If you’re really looking to understand how your car works and what the problem is, working with a smaller mechanic is a better bet for you. It’s easier to have conversations and form a relationship with local, mom and pop mechanics than ones who work for a dealership.
While negotiating on pricing can be done at both independent shops and dealerships, you may find that the mom and pop shops will be able to offer deeper discounts. Just be sure to do your research, and make sure that they have the blue seal of excellence through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
Wherever you decide to get your automotive work done, make sure you follow the schedule in your owner’s manual for getting regular oil changes and tire rotations.
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