We operate in a pretty affluent area of suburban Kansas City where, for the most part, people can afford the best of everything. Many customers assume that dealer service is the best thing for their cars. Some believe they must use dealer service centers to keep warranties in place. Some even presume their car salesman is looking out for them when they return to the dealer for service.
Don’t get me wrong. Most dealers provide fine service. But there are some things that simply must be pointed out so you can be sure you’re making the best choice for your situation. Let’s do a little fact checking:
1. Independent service does not void your warranty. Be federal law you are allowed to have an independent technician service your vehicle for issues not covered by your warranty (Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975). The law states that “no warrantor may condition the continued validity of a warranty on the use of only authorized repair service and/or authorized replacement parts for non-warranty service and maintenance.” Of course the dealer won’t point that out to you, but it’s true. We also handle extended aftermarket warranties often purchased at the dealer. Most (but not all) of them allow you to go anywhere for service.
2. Independent shops can get the same original equipment (OE) parts as your dealer. If you read my September blog on parts you know that I make each parts purchasing decision carefully. Sometimes it’s worth it for the OE part, and sometimes it’s not. It takes years of experience to make the right choice for each situation. But rest assured, if your vehicle needs an OE part, we will get one and install it correctly.
3. Independent shops can keep your service records as current as any dealer. I pride myself in keeping thorough records so my customers don’t have to worry about it. We contact you when it’s time to schedule vehicle maintenance and we keep track of what was done and when. It is best for all involved to have a clear picture of your service history so you can prevent large repairs that come when basic maintenance has been neglected. Our detailed records also increase the value of your car when it is time to sell it. We have a wonderful summary document for each customer that can be emailed to a prospective buyer.
4. I believe independent technicians do the best job of listening to your concerns and doing a thorough diagnosis. We have a lot at stake! If you take your car in for dealer service, you most likely won’t even see the technician who does the repairs. We have a big window in the lobby that looks out over our service area so you can see what our techs are up to. As the shop owner, I am always available to chat with you and to answer any concerns. Getting to know my customers is the best part of my job. If you’re looking for a strong relationship with your automotive service provider, the independent shop is the answer.
The best news is that government agencies, the AAIA, and even AutoMD.com all report that you can save an average of 25 percent a year annually on car maintenance and repair by choosing an independent shop over dealer service. It’s a no-brainer.
My next blog installment will feature the saga of one of our new customers who was shuffled from a dealer to a specialty shop when all he really needed was just an accurate diagnosis.