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Where to Repair: Independent Shops vs. Dealerships

car repair

We’ve all heard horror stories about botched repairs or high charges at both dealerships and independent repair shops. But how do you decide where to repair your vehicle?

The truth of the matter is that either option can be good depending on the quality of the shop and its reputation, and either option can be bad if the shop or the dealership has a bad reputation. You have to do your research on the independent shop or dealership that you are interested in and also consider pricing and repair time. Here are the pros and cons of repairing your vehicle at independent shops vs. dealerships:

Cost Matters

One main thing to consider is that an independent repair shop will often cost less than a dealership. Dealerships almost always tack on a premium with their repair services because they have more overhead costs and other costs. Or, they simply are looking to make a higher profit and know that their customers may not have any other option if there are no qualified independent repair shops nearby. For example, there are luxury car dealerships that make a lot of money from their repair services because there may not be any independent shops that can handle luxury models or imported models.

Online Reviews Matter

As long as the independent shop you are interested in has a good reputation and has the equipment and the experience to service your vehicle, it will almost always be a better option simply because it will cost you less money. The money you can save can sometimes be in the thousands, especially for a major repair like a transmission or an engine repair. A reputable independent shop should give you a full estimate upfront and won’t charge you more without your consent. The cost of your repairs will also depend on your location; some parts of the U.S. are much more expensive than others when it comes to vehicle repair, and there are differences within regions.

Wait Time Matters

The only other potential downside with independent shops is that they can sometimes be busier than dealerships - on a case by case basis of course. Dealerships often have faster turnaround times because their main business is to sell vehicles. Independent repair shops offer vehicle repair as their main source of income, so they can get backed up with repairs on some days. This can slow down the time it takes to receive your vehicle, so if you need your car back very soon, you might consider the dealership if they can get it fixed faster, even though you can expect to pay for it.

Reputation matters

In the modern digital world, bad reputation spreads like wildfire, and because of this most dealerships and independent repair shops will do their best to please their customers. However, you should always check reviews and read the experiences of other customers before you pick a shop. As long as the shop has mostly positive reviews it will likely be a good option for your repair. Read reviews completely and if anything turns you off about the company’s practices, or if you find several bad reviews, you are probably better off looking for a different shop in the area.

If your vehicle’s out of warranty and you’re looking for a great independent auto shop in the San Diego area, give us a call!

Image: Pixabay


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