Where to Repair? Dealer or Independent

Do Dealers Really Charge More?

We've been asked this question for years, and we've always said, "Yes, they do." Of course, we had no evidence to support that statement; just a gut feeling. So we finally broke down and did some research - details are below - and found that overall the dealers in our study charged 15 % more than independent repair shops for the same repairs.

We also found that what you pay for repairs is strongly influenced by where you live. For example, if you lived in Maryland, you'd pay almost $3000 for the same repairs for which that sleazeball brother-in-law of yours in Montana, would pay less than $1500!

Here's What We Did.

We chose 2 average vehicles (a Dodge Intrepid and a Honda Civic) and 4 common repairs - (if you own a 3- or 4-year old car, you might very likely have to do all these repairs in the same year.)

  • Replace Timing belt and water pump
  • Replace Front brake pads and rotors
  • Replace front and rear struts (shocks)
  • Replace the alternator

Then we commissioned Paul Murky, president of Murky Research and Development Company, Incorporated, Partners, Limited, to survey both dealers and independent repair shops and ask for the price to do the repairs on each of the vehicles. He got prices from 158 dealers and repair shops around the country.

Disclaimer Obviously, we did not actually bring these cars to any of the shops, so we don't know if they would actually do these repairs for the prices quoted to us. We don't have any hard evidence, but we've heard that some shops give low quotes and then sock it to you once they have your car. But buying 158 cars to do the real test seemed a little beyond our budget.

Nondisclaimer (for the nerds) all numbers are significant at p < .05

Here are the Results Here are the Results Here are the Results
Here are the Results Here are the Results
Do Dealers Really Charge More?