Is It A Good Idea To Service My Car at a Dealership?

Going to a factory-authorized service center has its perks, but saving money probably isn’t one of them.

You don’t have to stick to the dealership where you bought your car for service. However, keeping a regular routine for servicing might be helpful.

Getting Car Service At A Dealership Vs Independent Mechanics

It doesn’t matter if you have a flat tire, a faulty thermostat, or a spark plug issue with your car, you are going to need a service sooner or later.

When a serious problem arises, owners can either contact the dealership or work with a mechanic who works independently. If you had to choose one, what would you choose?

Even though a dealership will usually have factory trained technicians and use OEM parts, you can often save more money at an independent repair shop and get your car back in a shorter amount of time.

Your preferences and priorities determine the answer. To help you choose between a mechanic and a dealership, let’s examine the pros and cons of each.

1. Training And Experience Of Technicians

The technicians at dealerships often have extensive training and specialize in the brand of cars they offer. This could allow technicians to diagnose issues more quickly and accurately repair them.

Some independent shops may have industry-trained technicians who hold certifications, but they may not have specialized training in certain models. Because of this, it may take them longer to diagnose or fix an issue.

2. Rare Issues And Selling Your Vehicle

If you have a particularly complex car problem, you should always turn to the dealer. After your vehicle has been serviced, dealers install all-new software updates using the most advanced diagnostic equipment available.

There are benefits to having close relationships with manufacturers. A similar statement cannot be made about most auto shops.

Several only specialize in one brand of vehicle, and while they may have similar capabilities, they are the exception rather than the rule.

If you plan on selling the vehicle, going independent is not a good idea. There will be some doubts about what is under the hood.

So potential buyers may try to undervalue the vehicle. That is why a certified dealership is the best place to service your car.

3. Service Advisors and Representatives

There are many people who work in the dealer service departments who help move a car from the time it is dropped off to the time it is received, serviced, repaired, and put back on the road.

In addition to technicians and service advisors, lot porters could have also played a vital role in servicing your vehicle, depending on where you bought it and what services it needed.

Independent shops tend to have fewer employees who are likely to double up on duties. This means you might not be able to speak directly to the person who handled your car.

It is more likely that the technicians will speak directly to customers rather than using multiple service advisors to explain what services were performed in a small shop.

4. Time Constraints And Location

Customers always make their choices based on where they are located. Due to the warranty, residents who live near a dealership benefit from free replacements of individual components.

You’ll find it particularly useful if you’re stuck in your car on your way to work. It is possible to change the standard location if it is inconvenient, as this document provides options.

If you live in an area that is more remote, you may have no other choice but to hire an independent mechanic. The dealer’s service centers are usually located in large cities, close to the majority of the city’s population.

It would be a good idea to search for the best auto shop in your local area in such a case. It’s important to keep one thing in mind, however. Having to deal with time constraints is always a problem for car owners.

There are times when it is not possible to wait because many people use their vehicles for traveling to work, going on vacation, or taking road trips with their families.

This is the area where dealers dominate auto shops. Dealerships offer a wide range of services, and because they are expensive, demand for them is typically low.

Their ability to turn out jobs quickly is due to the fact that they stock all the necessary parts. Regardless, the waiting time would not be significant.

5. Warranty And OEM Parts

You can be sure your car gets genuine OEM parts (Original Equipment Manufacturer) by servicing it at a dealership.

You’ll get everything straight off the assembly line, regardless of whether it’s brake pads or oil filters. Your vehicle will also be serviced by factory-trained mechanics according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Aftermarket parts are often sourced by auto shops, which saves you money. The quality of these components is often inferior, even though they are more cost-effective.

It is possible to ask your mechanic to use OEM parts if you work with him personally. While this may save you money on labor, it will not save you money on the parts themselves.

The dealers also have another unbeatable advantage. You always get a warranty on your car, which covers all kinds of repair work. Your warranty may be voided if you visit a third party.

In most cases, you shouldn’t visit an auto shop unless you’re out of warranty. There are several other benefits to being a dealer as well, which we will discuss in a bit more detail later.

6. The Benefits Of Going To An Independent Mechanic

Prices and customer satisfaction may be better at your local mechanic’s shop, but specialized technicians and brand authority may be more important to you.


Due to the large number of customers dealerships serve, appointments are often required for service or repairs.

Depending on when your vehicle is dropped off, a technician might be available several days or longer before it is repaired. It may be easier to get your vehicle repaired at an independent shop since they have greater availability.


Service and repair prices at dealerships tend to be higher than those at independent shops due to their larger overhead costs and operating expenses.

It is also common for dealership technicians to command a higher fee due to their specialization. In addition to hourly labor rates, markups on materials and parts can also be included.

Why An Independent Mechanic Might Be Right For You

It may be more affordable to use an independent mechanic than a dealership service center for people looking to save money. There are a lot of independent shops that specialize in a particular brand or even a particular vehicle.

It’s a good idea to get your car serviced by a center that specializes in cars from one region or another. If you can find the best independent service provider using this information, you may be able to find the right one for your needs.

What To Look For In An Independent Mechanic

In case you decide to take your vehicle to an independent mechanic, look for one that specializes in the make of your vehicle, ideally one that has a good reputation and receives regular service.

Ensure that they have OEM parts available when you bring your car in, as well as that they can source them from the original equipment manufacturer.

There is a wide range of experiences, so it’s worth talking to multiple shops before making your final decision.

It’s important to get to know the people who will be taking care of your vehicle before you get a quote. Having a good relationship with your mechanic is similar to having a good relationship with your dentist or doctor.

Which One Is Better?

Depending on your circumstances and priorities, it depends.

In addition to how much you pay, how quickly your car is repaired, and what kind of experience you get, which repair shop you choose can make an important difference in how much you pay.

Dealerships may be a better choice in some situations:

  • Your car needs to be serviced, so you need a loaner car.
  • There is still a warranty on your car.
  • Your car needs a technician who is trained specifically for it.
  • OEM parts are the only ones you need.

However, you may prefer an independent auto repair shop if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • It is important that you can communicate directly with the mechanics working on your car.
  • Your car needs to be repaired as soon as possible.
  • There’s a budget constraint.

The Dealer May Be The Safer Choice

The vehicles of today are extremely advanced, with more technology, sensors, and parts than ever before. As a result, if something does go wrong, you want to ensure the person that fixes it is an expert in the technology.

You’ll find factory-trained technicians in the dealership service department working on vehicles just like yours every day.

Their training is tailored to your vehicle’s specific needs. Also, OEM parts are often of higher quality than aftermarket parts, so you can be assured you’ll be getting genuine OEM parts.

Although the dealer may be more expensive, here are some things to consider if you have the flexibility.

Why Is Car Dealership Service So Expensive?

For minor repairs such as oil changes and tire rotations, dealerships may offer competitive specials, but their hourly rates are high. The reason for that is a combination of factors.

Automaker-specific courses are required for mechanics at a dealership rather than generalist shops.

There are mechanics who are qualified to work on certain vehicles and there are others who are not. Moreover, for new technologies and models, there may be only one or two mechanics who have undergone extensive training.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, which regularly administers skill tests, also certifies mechanics for a fee, which dealerships may pay for.

There are often standards that automakers mandate for their dealerships, from providing free snacks to making sure mechanics use expensive diagnostic equipment and specialized tools.

Repairs are usually performed by dealers using original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, parts, which have passed the automaker’s tests but may cost more than similar aftermarket parts.

This all costs money, and the dealership offsets its own costs in part by charging its customers a high hourly rate.

Can I Bring My Car To Any Dealership?

Taking your car to the service department of the dealership does not require you to go there. You can, however, benefit from consistency in service visits.

In the same way that frequenting the same coffee shop can establish a positive relationship with the barista, a regular visit to the same dealership may result in better service.

Nevertheless, you shouldn’t bring your Toyota to a Honda dealer for major repairs since their mechanics may not be trained on your vehicle.

According to anecdotal evidence, automakers may also be willing to waive out-of-warranty costs for owners who can show their vehicle has been regularly serviced by an authorized dealer.


When compared with independent mechanics or auto shops, dealers have a number of benefits. You can have your repair covered under warranty, and it can be done quickly and conveniently if there is a problem that is rare or complex.

For a better assessment of the service quality, compare prices and start with a minor task, e.g., balancing tires. In addition to online forums, you may want to look at customer testimonials to figure out what auto shop is the best.

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