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Do I need to service my car with the car dealer?

A dilemma that often plagues car owners is whether a dealer’s service is truly the best or if it’s all just a gimmick. Without a doubt, dealer-based car service is done by highly trained professionals, but is it enough to justify the cost difference?

On the other hand, independent mechanics are slightly cheaper, and a reputable one can offer the same service, albeit it will sometimes take more time. Today, we are here to address this question and see whether you should really service your car at your car dealership.

Experience is important

To be an employee at an official dealership, a staff member goes through various tests, meaning that the employees are cherry picked to be the best foundation for further improvements. Once employed, the whole dealership staff goes through various factory backed training over the course of their careers, which ensures that they are always familiar with up to date models throughout the whole brand range, and that their service is always professional. In addition, dealership mechanics work on the same car brands all of the time, so they know everything about your car and have full factory support in both hardware and software. This means that dealership mechanics have the best resources and working environment for providing top quality work and maintaining a brand’s reputation. Of course, that reflects on the final price, as hourly rates in the dealership are usually higher than at your local mechanics.

However, independent mechanics often come from a dealership background, meaning that their experience is also considerable, although it’s not always as up-to-date compared to dealership-based mechanics. But, some independent mechanics pay for factory training as well, meaning that their knowledge and expertise is the same as in the dealership. Having all that in mind, it’s best you find a reputable local mechanic if you drive an older model, but stick to your dealership or a certified independent mechanic if you own a new car.

Approach Differs Too

At a dealership, mechanics always go by the book and their service is kept at a highly professional level. That means that the procedures involved in repair and maintenance are the same for everyone, so there are no variations in hours of labour; and parts will be replaced with OEM (original equipment manufacturer) ones only, offering manufacturer-backed warranty. Necessary parts will usually be in stock, so the repairs will often be completed quicker than at a local mechanic. All that transfers to the price as well. You’ll know it in advance, but it’s safe to say that a dealership will almost always charge you more than a local mechanic. Even though all that looks promising in theory, there are some downsides when taking your car to the dealership. Since dealerships have a number of employees who work on a tight schedule, you’ll never know who actually worked on your car, nor how much they were committed. Apart from that, dealership service advisors often tend to press customers into spending more money than they should for maintenance that they don’t need, so be aware of that if you’re a fresh car owner with little experience in these situations.

On the other hand, independent mechanics tend to have a more flexible approach towards servicing and repairing your car. That means they can often bypass official procedures to do the same work, saving you time and money whilst offering the same work quality and final result. However, a dishonest mechanic can save on parts and charge you OEM prices, so always ask for receipts to avoid being overcharged. Speaking of parts, honest independent mechanics can recommend you cheaper options that don’t compromise quality, so having a good personal relationship with a local mechanic can sometimes save you both time and money. On the upside, you’ll also be having direct communication with a mechanic, which is usually not the case in dealership services. By personally speaking to your mechanic rather than a service advisor, you’ll be more sure that your problem won’t get misinterpreted, which is always a plus. The downside of independent service is that you’ll usually have to wait. Local mechanics often have limited space and they work alone, meaning that your car will be waiting in line to get fixed. Also, you can expect to wait for the parts to arrive because chances that your mechanic has them in stock are slim. So, if you’re willing to compromise time to save money, a local mechanic is a more reasonable choice.

Dealership Service and Resale Value

This one applies to all cars, but is particularly noticeable with premium vehicles with high original sticker prices such as luxurious sedans and exotic sports cars. When selling a car, having your dealership’s service book gives you the upper hand compared to other sellers. That is because dealership service book has more of a psychological effect on prospective car buyers who see it as undeniable proof that your car has been maintained well. Of course, that doesn’t mean an independent mechanic can’t provide the same service quality, but by having a dealership service book, it’s much easier to prove that you’ve had your car maintained properly. So having your dealership’s service history is definitely an upside if you want to sell your  premium car quicker and for a little bit more.

The Final Verdict

If you drive a car that’s still under factory warranty, or a car with a high sticker price, you should choose dealership service. That way, you’ll pay a little more, but you’ll save time and will be rewarded with higher resale value of your car. If you drive an older car, a trusted independent mechanic is a wise budget friendly choice. Also, numerous routine procedures such as light bulb, tire and oil changes could be done by your local mechanic.

Both options have their upsides and downsides. While dealership service is an easier way to go, finding a specialised mechanic you could trust will take a while, but it might be more rewarding in the long run. Whatever option you opt for, the only truly important thing is that you always keep your car mechanically sound, as it will keep you safe for years to come.

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