Independent mechanics are indeed cheaper than dealerships, but if you choose to go through the indie route, you need to be aware of all the caveats that come with it. If your car is still under warranty, there is absolutely no reason for you to opt for anything else besides a dealership.
This way you will make sure that all the repairs you encounter will adhere to what the manufacturer recommended. However, when the time comes and your car is out of warranty, you have to choose whether you prefer a cheaper price, or you prefer a more cohesive and reliable service because you are already aware of what a dealership offers.
On the other hand, if you bought a used car, you can go through the indie route without even considering dealership services. If that is the case, you need to make sure that the mechanic in question is reliable and has decent experience working on similar cars.
Before you make your final decision, be sure to read this article to find out why one should stay loyal to a dealership as opposed to going to an independent mechanic from the get-go. This way you will have a broader understanding of what you get with each of these options.
Dealership repair shops – Pros and Cons
Dealership repairs shops are beneficial because they specialize in a single brand. This means that most mechanics that work in these shops are specifically trained to work on such cars. So, if you own a BMW for example, a BMW dealership is likely going to be the place with the most experience as far as working on various BMW models is concerned.
Dealership repair shops are equipped with sophisticated equipment which enables them to do an in-depth analysis of your car to determine what your car needs. Dealerships always use original parts which is not always the case with independent repair shops.
You will not have to worry about whether the service your car is receiving is the very best out there. However, dealerships are known to work on hundreds of cars at the same time, and that means that your car is not the priority which also means you will have to wait for quite some time before you can even repair your car.
Furthermore, dealerships are also known to have inferior customer service relations which means that you may never know who is the person that works on your car specifically. Finally, dealerships repair shops are more expensive when compared to independent shops.
Independent repair shops – Pros and cons
Independent repair shops are usually smaller-scale operations when compared to most dealerships. This means that you will probably be able to talk to the person who works on your car. Shops such as these are usually staffed by former dealership technicians which means that they are often as skilled as most dealership technicians are.
However, that’s not always the case, and you need to make sure you do your research before you opt for an independent repair shop. Indie shops don’t specialize in particular brands all that often because they want to cover a wider array of vehicles.
The good thing about repair shops such as these is that they sometimes even do recognize third-party warranties which is not the case with dealerships. They are cheaper and they offer a more hand-to-hand service which means that your level of potential involvement in the entire process is way higher.
Nonetheless, it’s not always easy to find a repair shop that will satisfy your car’s needs optimally. Because they don’t specialize in particular brands, they might not even have access to original parts which can be a huge issue.
Specific cars require specific needs – Independent specialists
If you own a rare/old/expensive/limited edition car, even though a dealership might seem like the place to go, you should also try to find an independent specialized dealership. Dealerships such as these specialize in specific cars such as classic cars, EVs, luxury cars, muscle cars, or even supercars and hypercars.
For example, if you own an old air-cooled 911, it may be best to search for an independent Porsche specialist which is recognized by Porsche as competent to work on such a car. This way you will ensure that your beloved 911 gets the best possible service.
Of course, cars such as these are way more expensive to work on and the parts are not always readily available. This means that the price is rather high, but it’s still cheaper than going through the dealership route.
Is it better to buy an extended dealership warranty or go through an independent repair shop?
It depends on the car you have. If you own a high-end car that can cost huge amounts of money to repair, it’s best to just opt for an extended warranty and be done with it. On the other hand, if the car in question is not all that expensive to work on, it’s better to opt for an independent dealership.
The best thing you can do is go through specific online brand forums which often debate which option is better for a specific car model. The more you investigate the easier it gets to make the right decision.
Do both dealerships and independent repair shops offer loaner cars?
A dealership is way more likely to offer you a loaner car while your car is under repair, especially if the car is still under warranty. On the other hand, independent dealerships rarely ever offer loaner cars to their customers.
This makes a massive difference if your car needs extensive work which can last for weeks. If you don’t have access to another car and you are not in a position to ask for a loaner car, you might even have to pay more than $1000 to rent a mid-level car for three weeks.
Does going to an independent repair shop decrease my car’s resale value?
It depends on the type of car, but more often than not, you are going to lower your car’s resale value if you go through the independent route. This is because most people who want to buy a used car are more likely to opt for a car with a full dealership service record history.
However, that’s not always the case. It all depends on what was done to your car. If it’s something minor like a small dent or a scratch, it’s not a large issue. On the other hand, if you did more extensive work to your car which involved getting new parts then the difference might be a bit more exaggerated.