When you need to get mechanical or certain types of body work done to your car, you have the option of taking it to one of the car dealerships that sells your make of car or to an independent mechanic. There are good reasons for going both routes ranging from specialty skill to price. You may already have a preference–a particular dealer or mechanic whom you trust. If not, carefully weigh your options before you decide. There are a number of ways to find a good mechanic, whether they are independent or work for a dealer. If you understand the pros and cons of both, you can better assess your individual needs and choose the mechanic that is right for you.
Car Dealerships: Advantages
If your car has a warranty, taking it to the dealership is the only way to enjoy the cost benefits of it. A dealership often has a parts department. Because of this, access to parts is often easier and does not require the time and money it takes to ship them or deliver them across town. Another advantage is the scale at which most dealerships operate. Work can be done quicker because there are more mechanics on staff, and since they are trained and certified to work on a particular make of vehicle, they will be very familiar with the model you drive. For certain jobs, prices will be lower at a dealership than through an independent mechanic.
On the flipside of the issue, car dealerships often do not offer the best prices on work or parts. Because they are usually a franchise of a much larger company, pricing decisions come from corporate headquarters. They are often quite a bit higher than independent mechanics because of large scale advertising costs, high budget operations and administrative overhead. Because of the disassociation between business and customer, a decreased attention to detail and price gouging can occur. Since the main corporation tends to think of the customer as a means to profit, there is no incentive for the mechanics and local workers to care much for them either.
Independent Mechanics: Advantages
An independent mechanic is held to higher accountability in their community because a bad reputation can mean no business. Often, they have an incentive to form personal bonds with their customers and to undersell the dealership. Thus, independent mechanics are more likely to feel attached to their communities than car dealerships, which answer to corporate headquarters. Attention to detail is another positive quality of independent mechanics who rely on their good work for return business. And thanks to the Internet, customer reviews can inform people which mechanics do honest, quality work.
Because they don’t work in large scales, independent mechanics might have longer waiting lists–if they are in demand. With certain jobs they might not be able to undersell the large auto shops and have to charge more. Parts may have to be ordered or delivered at added expense to you, and warranties usually don’t cover work done away from the dealership.
Compare independent mechanics with car dealerships when your car is in need of auto work. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but the most important thing is that you find a mechanic you trust. Different people will have had a variety of experiences with both dealership and independent mechanics. Talk to your friends and neighbors, and by all means, do your homework. You’re more likely to find the right mechanic that way.