Car Repair Prices: Should I Go to the Dealer or My Local Guy?

There is lots of advice on where to service one’s vehicle. Many argue that local shops are best, and that you only need to go to the dealer for warranty work and recalls. Others state that dealers are the real experts even though they’re expensive. These arguments are interesting, but do little to clarify the myths and facts of dealership service versus local shop service.

The two primary objectives of these arguments are money and quality. These two interweaving points need to be fleshed out when determining the appropriate facility in which to service a particular vehicle.

In terms of money, all car repair is expensive. Whether at a dealership or local shop, studies show that car repair prices are extreme. Consumers are scammed tens of billions of dollars every year. Every type of service facility: dealerships, local shops, and franchises, are ripping you off in one form or another. Stating that one facility is more expensive fails to recognize that 98% of ALL repair shops are ripping people off.

Moreover, the expense argument of car repair doesn’t take into account the quality of service for the money. The quality of service between a dealership and local shop is a key factor to consider.

There are vast differences in the quality of car repairs. There are many variables, from the customer service received, the diagnosis of the problem, the quality of parts used, to the technician performing the actual repair.

In short, you could have a water pump replaced perfectly, and at a great price, at a dealership. You could have the same job butchered at a local shop. You could easily switch these scenarios, and add ten more variables.

The concern over the quality of repairs is heightened by the fact that the majority of technicians lack the appropriate training, which can also increase the price. Furthermore, depending on the facility, the technician will be limited by the facility’s resources–equipment and expertise, as well as by the service center’s internal policies and practices.

For example, at a dealer, a technician can only use factory parts (parts built by the manufacturer). In most cases, this is great. Factory parts are perfectly designed for the vehicle. However, a twelve-year-old car doesn’t necessarily need a factory part. While it can’t hurt, the age of the car may not justify the expenditure, if the repair can been done for significantly less elsewhere. The technician may know this, and have a great alternative solution “outside company policies.” It’s unlikely, however, that he’ll speak up, or that he’ll even be allowed to speak up.

In cases like these, the customer suffers, having to pay significantly more than necessary. Dealership by-the-book protocols often dictate replacement of expensive parts, and thus dealer personnel will not and/or cannot offer alternatives. Following these mandates isn’t necessarily bad, and this example is not intended to frame dealerships in a negative light. However, repairs in a dealership environment very often exceed the value of the vehicle being repaired.

The point here is to illustrate that depending on the year, condition, and value of one’s vehicle, a dealership “may” not be the best alternative. However, this is rapidly changing. Technological advancements require dealer service more and more for computer updates, software updates, intricate electronic coding, and a host of mechanical concerns outside the scope of the local garage.

Unfortunately, a local shop may not be a good alternative either. At a local shop, a technician has a whole range of parts from which to choose. However, this presents problems. First, most local shops will use local parts suppliers regardless of quality because of speed, convenience, and business relationships. This means that you may get a better price (refer to Car Repair Prices: Who Charges More, Dealerships or Locals @ http://www.repairtrust.com/articles.html for an in-depth discussion on car repair prices). However, the use of many aftermarket parts (parts not built by the manufacturer) can cause numerous problems, and may even cause other systems to fail. This is common–and, you pay for it!

Local shop technicians–the good ones anyway–know the difference between quality parts and cheap parts. However, as mentioned above, the good ones are rare. In light of this, many local shops are turning to the use of factory parts because it’s just less headache. There’s nothing more frustrating than installing an aftermarket component that has to be bent, twisted, tweaked, and manipulated to fit correctly or work properly. Not only is the part made poorly, it’s been modified before it’s even installed. Comforting, isn’t it?

Car repair concerns are not limited to parts. The quality of the worked performed–diagnosis, labor, experience, and installation procedures–is a critical factor. In this arena a dealership technician and a local shop technician are often worlds apart.

A dealer technician has all available information and proper equipment at hand, although he may lack the training to know what to do with it. Nevertheless, he does have a team of co-workers to turn to, and he can draw from their experience. Dealer technicians also see your car and its types of problems daily, and what might be a complicated repair for a local shop is quite easy for a dealer.

However, the structure and flat-rate environment of dealerships very often cause even experienced technicians to overlook even simple problems. This is exacerbated by the lack of effective of communication of an inexperienced or overwhelmed service advisor who is supposed to be advocating on your behalf. While there are numerous other obstacles, the point is that dealers are in the dark ages in terms of consistent quality service.

Before discussing what’s better, a dealership or local shop, a final point to consider is the condition of your vehicle after several years. What facility keeps your vehicle in “better” condition: a dealership or local shop? And, does this “better” condition translate into dollars?

Given the current state of the service industry, it would be an aberration to receive consistent, quality service anywhere. Nevertheless, both local shops and dealerships are a vital component of the automotive service community. The consistent use of inferior parts and poor workmanship continues to be the local shop’s downfall. Vehicles need to be maintained according to manufacturer specifications. There’s no argument on this. Although dealers still struggle with good customer service and consistent positive results, a well-maintained vehicle from a state-of-the-art dealership results in a significantly better quality vehicle, long term. A better quality vehicle increases its value.

Auto Body Repair Estimates: Is It Possible To Get An Accurate Online Auto Body Repair Estimate?

When trying to find auto body repair estimates you are likely going to call around to many shops in your area. Keep in mind though that without seeing the damage firsthand, it can be very difficult to offer an educated guess on the cost of repairs.

Replacing a bumper for instance might sound straight forward, but there is the chance that all mounting brackets are cracked, or even bent completely out of shape. This will certainly add to the cost since it was not factored in during the estimate. This line of work has very little in the way of cookie cutter solutions.

There are a few online tools and guides that can be used to help prepare yourself before getting auto body repair estimates but you still will have to wait until the end to find out exactly what it will cost.

Simple dent repair can generally be estimated, but keep in mind this is liable not to include any repainting, or the finer work when it comes to getting all blemishes from the metal. Creating a smooth surface takes work, and matching the colors takes paint, this will all increase the cost in the end.

Some shops might not even give you auto body repair estimates without seeing the vehicle themselves. These are probably the more honest auto body techs out there, but still you would like to know before going in.

Your best advice is going to be ask a friend or family member who might be able to tell you what all is needed before calling around town. By knowing exactly what work needs to be done your auto body repair estimates will be a lot more accurate by passing on this information. You still cannot really know actual price until the work is started, but at least you will know what to expect before signing on the dotted line.

Auto Repair for Everyone

Easily Deal With Auto Repair With This Advice.

Does your car need to be fixed? You know how stressful it can be to have a car that is not working properly. You might also feel immobilized occasionally over choosing the right course of action. What do you do? Read further to gain knowledge regarding all of your auto repair needs.

Don’t underestimate how important it is to keep an emergency kit inside your car. You need tools to change a flat tire, charge a battery, and you must have spare gas. You may also want to add some batteries, a flashlight and a few blankets in the event that you break down at night.

Prior to handing over your keys, be sure you have a good idea of the repair cost. If you don’t understand something, ask questions until you do. Don’t be surprised with extra costs when the car has been fixed.

Speak with a repair shop’s technician if you wish to figure out what kinds of cars they’ve worked on in the past. A mechanic who has experience with the make and model you are driving will be able to diagnose issues quickly.

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself well with your car’s manual. This will help you speak intelligently to a technician about your car when it is time to take it in. You can even find that reading the manual can help you fix the issue.

Check online for reviews of local mechanics. This gives you an idea regarding the public’s view of the particular service and lets you know who and where you should avoid. Use this information to choose a good shop.

Before paying for repairs done on your car, test drive it to make sure it runs well. Many people don’t do this, and the car ends up with the same issues that were supposed to be repaired.

Be wary of mechanics that try and make unnecessary repairs to your car. Make sure that you give your approval first before a repair is done. A mechanic who has performed this practice should never be patronized again.

Remove valuable things from your car prior to taking it in to get fixed. The mechanic might need to move these things so they can do the job, and they won’t assume responsibility if anything comes up missing. You want to remove items from your trunk also.

Check to see that your technician knows what he is doing. If they beat around the bush and act shifty, they may not be the one you want to work with. Make sure that you trust the person that you are working with.

Make sure any mechanic you hire knows about your particular vehicle. There are certain specifics which he needs to know before doing any repairs. If you are not sure, spend the extra money and go to an authorized dealer.

If you have something major that needs to be done by someone at a shop, you have to be sure you get more than just a single price. Most mechanical shops are trustworthy, but others may try to slip in little extras which quickly add up. Try and locate a shop that specializes in servicing your particular type of car. These mechanics will most likely be more experienced in fixing your kind of car.

Doing repairs on your own can be hazardous. Have a person close by to help if an emergency occurs. Buy only the highest quality tools that will last and not break under pressure. This is particularly important for tools that you use to change your tires. A good quality jack is very important, particularly since you will be under the vehicle. This is the reason why you should use a reliable hydraulic floor jack equipped with the right jack stands.

Finding the right solution to your auto repair needs is as simple as following the tips in the guide that has been explained to you. It is wise to continue learning more, of course. You should now feel more comfortable about handling your auto repair needs.