For those who own an antique or classic car, going to the dealer isn’t an option. And fewer independent Shops have the knowledge or skill to work on a vehicle that can’t generate computer code. If you are a member of that club, then you are on your own!
This post is for the average Joe, who finds himself running down the road and then suddenly hears a clanking or sees the flash of a “check engine” light. Now what? classic car repairs are expensive – who do you turn to?
Many people get their vehicles serviced at a dealership, usually the same one they brought their car from. While this may seem like the most obvious solution, dealerships often charge a premium. Is there really a better, more affordable option?
Independent Mechanics: Can they be Trusted?
Independent mechanics usually operate out of smaller garages. Don't let this deter you! Just because a place is smaller in size doesn't mean they lack the resources to do a good job. Plus, it’s not unusual to work directly with the guy who will be wrenching on your car, rather than a middleman (aka service manager).
Independent mechanics also have more affordable options available. If a part of the car needs to be replaced, car dealerships use only original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. These parts are more expensive, but often perform no better than a generic alternative, Independent shops may also suggest rebuilt parts at a significantly lower cost than new ones.
Because they can offer lower prices and produce the same outcome, many people favor independent shops over dealerships
What are the pros and cons of independent garages?
Personalized customer service
More affordable parts options
Most are generalists – working on all makes and models of cars
Independent Mechanics possess many of the same skills and tools as dealership mechanics
It you have a foreign, specialty or exotic car, your independent options will be limited
Car Dealerships: When do they have an Edge?
For starters, dealerships have the advantage of being able to operate at a large scale. They have factory-trained technicians that service hundreds or even thousands of cars each month. This provides consumers a level of confidence, knowing their vehicle is in experienced hands.
Car dealerships also offer the advantage of having more staff. If you're intimidated by a mechanic who knows more about your car than you do, car dealerships offer a buffer. A friendly service advisor that can discuss your specific needs with you.
In addition to this, dealerships also specialize in your car manufacturer, so they know the ins and outs of your specific make and model. Car dealerships also get many parts straight from the manufacturer. This reduces concerns about fit and performance. If your car needs service that is covered under a factory warranty, then you will most likely need the service performed by an authorized dealer.
There's also the matter of quality. Dealer technicians undergo extensive training and have specialized tools at their disposal. This may give them an edge in diagnosing and fixing your vehicle.
What are the advantages and drawbacks of dealerships?
Higher Staffing Levels
Factory Warranty Service Experts
Tend to be more expensive
Some consumers find the experience less personal
The Final Verdict
Which one is better, an independent mechanic or a car dealership? There is no black or white answer – it depends. If you own a gold McLaren that needs service, and you want a high level of customer care while you wait, then a car dealership is right for you!
However, if you own an “average car” and want to save some money, an independent mechanic may be a viable option. In the end, it all comes down to your specific needs and comfort level.