Where to Repair? Dealer or Independent

Do Dealers Really Charge More?

Does all this mean that you should never go to the dealer? No. After all, money isn't everything. Would you want your open heart surgery to be done by the guy who had the lowest prices?

We think it means that for the normal everyday stuff that needs to be done to your car (like the repairs that we researched, for example,) you can probably save a few bucks --hundreds of bucks, even -- by going to a good independent shop.

But dealerships offer some advantages. For one thing, they will know more about your car than the independent shop. That could mean that they may not have to spend a lot of time diagnosing a problem that's unique to your car; and the independent shop may not work on enough cars of the same make and model to have that info at their fingertips. Also, if there happens to be a manufacturing defect in some part, the dealer may replace it for free. The independent shop won't. On the negative side, you might think that since the dealer is always working on the same cars, they must get pretty good (i.e., fast) at doing the exact same repairs over and over again and therefore should charge less for them. But we can see from this research that they don't charge less. They charge more.

So, if you've got a weird problem, the dealer is probably a better bet. But for most repairs that don't require rocket science to diagnose, the independent shop will probably will do as good a job as the dealer, and you'll save some money -- some of which you can send to us. Please send it directly to our secret bank account in the Cayman Islands.

Do Dealers Really Charge More?