Local Repair Shop vs Dealership Repair Shop

Published on May 25, 2021

What is difference between local repair shop and dealership auto repair shop?

In today’s current environment of soaring prices on new and used vehicles, it might be best to hold on to yours a little longer.  Contrary to popular belief, you are not required to have your car serviced at the dealership you purchased it from.  You have the option to consider your local full-service car repair and maintenance shop as well.  Both are good, yet different.  Here is why:

Your Local Repair Shop vs. Dealership’s Loyalty to You?

In our parents’ days, Mom and Dad relied upon having a relationship with a trusted local mechanic.  They wanted someone who knew them and the nuances of that classic car or truck they swore to drive until the wheels fell off.  Your locally owned auto repair shop generally will beat the price of products, maintenance, and service over the dealership’s service center.  You’ll likely find they will work much harder to achieve customer satisfaction to earn your lifetime business, regardless of the make, model, or age of your vehicle.  The car dealerships have a natural pool of brand specific customers, convinced they must have their vehicle serviced by only the dealer regardless of cost or service quality.  At the time of purchase, they are reminded that the dealership’s service department is the brand authority, and their technicians are exclusively trained to work on that manufacturer’s models.

Conflicted? Let’s Take a Closer Look at What Experts Say the Pros and Cons Are of Each?

An ongoing misconception is that only the dealerships have original manufacturer’s parts, specialized equipment, and brand technology.  It is also often believed the local auto repair shop will give you better value for your money.  Only a real inquiry into each can confirm these two beliefs.  For example, it is advisable to get an estimate for an out of warranty brake or transmission repair from both the dealer and local auto service center and, compare for yourself.

Dealerships focus their expertise on the particular car brand they deal with only.  So, you won’t be bringing your Honda Accord to a Ford dealership for repair or service, but you could bring it to a locally owned auto repair service center like Cassels Garage in Melbourne, FL.  Local repair shop often have training on all makes, models, and even after-market, tricked-out vehicles.  At the dealership, you will likely deal with a brand-specific knowledgeable service advisor and never meet the service provider (mechanic).  The manufacturer dealership covers the cost of most repairs if the car is under warranty.  If it is expired, you will pay dealership pricing for repairs, parts, and service.

Dealership auto repair centers provide brand-specific continuous technology and training to their technicians as their new vehicles and technical developments roll out.  Local auto repair shop technicians undergo extensive training on a cross section of brands.  Some independently owned car service centers offer third party warranties they believe will serve their customers quite well after the manufacturer warranty expires.   A little-known fact is that many professional technicians at locally owned auto repair centers are former dealership mechanics seeking to broaden their experience in a variety of vehicles, making them more marketable.  So, the locally owned shops may lack intense specialization in one specific brand, yet they are known for their vast knowledge, “have seen it all” situations, and personalized customer service.

When in Doubt, Do a Direct Comparison by Taking These Steps:

  • Compare labor costs. You will find talented technicians at both locally owned and big dealership service centers, but the greater dealership overhead and perceived perks (like snacks and treats, loaner vehicles, monster TVs, and elegantly appointed waiting areas) will be passed on to you in the form of higher labor costs.  Essentially, they are performing the same service, but with a little less “glam” and more personalization at your neighborhood auto repair center.
  • Compare parts and equipment costs. Original manufacturer parts are not exclusive to dealership auto repair shops.  Your local auto repair shops can also get brand specific original parts.  The locals will also inform you of less expensive options for parts performing the same functions to save you some money. Dealerships are required to use factory-made parts and equipment.
  • Compare reviews and customer satisfaction. As mentioned above, your local auto repair service is likely to try harder to keep you as a lifelong customer and gain your referral since they do not already have a built-in pool of brand-specific or warranty customers.  Remember the dealership must remain steadfastly loyal to the manufacturer and they earn commissions on their sales, parts, and services.  Your neighborhood mechanic is steadfastly loyal to you and relies upon your network of potential friends, colleagues, and family referrals to remain in business.
  • Compare extended warranty offers and check with your insurance for non-dealership maintenance and services that may be covered. Dealership auto repair shops offer manufacturer-backed warranties for fixes free of charge until it expires.  Millions of Americans deride unsolicited extended warranty telemarketer calls.  A quality locally owned auto service center can advise you if you really need an extended warranty, and which third party options are worth it.

The decision to go to the dealership or locally owned auto repair shop is really up to you.  Short term and under warranty, your repairs and service may be free of charge at the dealership.  Long term, it is generally more cost effective to build a relationship with your neighborhood full-service, auto repair and maintenance shop such as Cassels Garage in Melbourne, FL, especially if you are like your parents and plan to drive it until the wheels fall off.   Give us a call today for a free estimate and with any general or specific questions. If you are in the market for a pre-owned car, we can help with that too through our car concierge program.   We look forward to serving you, hassle-free at Cassels Garage, providing automotive repairs and service in Brevard County for over 50 years.

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