Breaking down the most important differences.
You’ve hit that point when your car is beyond the factor warranties and your questioning whether you should take your car to the dealership or find and independent repair facilities for maintenance and repairs. We often are asked what makes a dealership alternative different? Which should you choose and why?
Dealerships vs. Independent Repair Facilities
Dealerships are typically the safest choice when it comes to maintaining or repairing your car. For most brands, you’ll get service from a factory-trained technician who knows their way around newer makes and models of your vehicle. And, as the name suggests, factory-trained technicians know what it takes to keep your vehicle running the way its manufacturer intended. But at some point, it is just not feasible for dealerships to train technicians to work on older vehicles.
Independent repair facilities typically have less overhead and are able to offer more affordable rates when it comes to parts and labor. This can prove especially true when vehicles get older and are faced with costlier repairs. Dealership alternative often have technicians that specialize in older brands and can identify problems quicker. You also get more opportunities to speak directly with the shop owner or the technician working on your car. They may even be the same person. Assuming you become a repeat customer, your independent repair technician will become more familiar with your specific vehicle each time they work on it.
The Importance of OEM Parts
Getting your vehicle serviced at the dealership will ensure that it receives only genuine OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts. Whether it’s spark plugs, oil filters or brake pads, the best parts are often the ones your car came with when it rolled off the assembly line, but often a more expensive option.
Independent repair facilities are more likely to offer aftermarket parts, which can save you money. Typically, aftermarket parts are the same quality as their OEM counterparts and held to the same standards as the OEM parts. The good news is that you can usually work with your technician to use OEM parts if you prefer, which they may actually end up sourcing from a nearby dealership. So while you might pay a similar cost for OEM parts, you could also save significantly on labor.
Is the dealership the right choice?
If your vehicle has a valid manufacturer’s warranty, we recommend starting with the dealership to determine if your needs are covered. Whether it’s a dead battery or a major mechanical issue, the dealership may be able to cover some or all of the service cost. Exact terms will vary depending on the automaker, but new and certified-pre-owned vehicle warranties generally cover defective components or components that fail under normal usage.
Vehicles no longer under warranty can still be serviced at a dealership. Parts and labor will generally be on the costlier side. Some luxury brand dealerships tend to shy away from repairs on vehicles that are 10+ years old. If you find an independent that specializes in older brands, resolution to issues can be fixed quicker and less expensively, without multiple trips back for the same problem.
Is an independent repair facility the right choice?
Those looking to save money will find that Independent Repair Technicians are usually more affordable than a dealership service center. This is especially true if you own a European car such as a BMW, Mercedes, Land Rovers or Porsche, which can make service at a dealership cost-prohibitive. Many independent repair facilities specialize in specific brands and even vehicles.
If your vehicle is out of warranty and needs major engine or transmission work, it’s no exaggeration to say that an independent repair facility could save you thousands.
What to Look for in an independent repair technician
If you’re thinking about using an independent repair facility, we recommend looking for a shop that specializes in your vehicle’s make, ideally one with great reviews and regular customers. You should also confirm that they can source OEM parts and source them quickly when you bring your vehicle in.
Buckhead Auto Sport is an excellent choice as an independent. They service and repair many of the luxury brands with technicians that specialize in newer and older brands not supported by the dealerships. Stop by and talk to Stephen Adams about your vehicle. Take advantage of our concierge services. We’ll pick-up your vehicle service or repair it and return it to you at no additional charge. It truly the no hassle solution to repair.