A new survey by AutoMD.com finds car owners trust independent shops over dealerships when it comes to vehicle repairs. The site surveyed 3,000 owners online between November 2 and December 12, 2012, and 80 percent of the respondents said they felt they had been overcharged for repairs at a dealership, while 90 percent felt they could save more money by visiting an independent shop.

But it's not just about savings, either. When asked who owners trust more to repair their cars, 67 percent said a private shop, while only 33 percent trust their local dealer. Meanwhile 47 percent of those who use dealers for their vehicle service are either satisfied or very satisfied with the experience.

Even so, the vast majority of those who choose to go to the dealer do so either because their car or truck is under warranty or because their vehicle has been recalled for service. A total of 83 percent of dealer-goers say they would rely on an independent shop if it weren't for a warranty or recall notice.

Who do you rely on? Take the poll below to tell us who turns your wrenches and be sure to check out the full press release for more information.

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Consumers Trust Independent Shops Over Dealerships for Car Repairs: Pricing is Key Issue, According to New Survey

AutoMD.com survey reveals consumers who shop for quotes report lower estimates at independent repair shops; four in five would not have chosen the dealership for repairs if vehicle was not under warranty/recall

Carson, CA – January 23, 2013 – A recent online survey on auto repair conducted by AutoMD.com* showed that while consumers are generally satisfied with their dealership experience, they trust independent repair shops over dealerships for auto repairs by two to one. Better prices and mechanic relationships are the keys for independent repair shop preference, with 80 believing they can save at least 10% by visiting an independent shop. Meanwhile, most report choosing the dealership service center instead of an independent repair shop because their vehicle was under warranty/recall.

But is this notion that dealerships are more expensive just a perception? Not according to the majority of respondents who say they have actually comparison-shopped repair job quotes: a whopping 87% reported that independent shop quotes were more affordable than dealership quotes.

"It is no secret that consumers are holding onto their vehicles for record lengths of time, meaning more and more visits to the repair shop or dealer service center," said Brian Hafer, VP of Marketing for AutoMD.com. "We conducted this snapshot survey to provide a window into how today's car owners feel about their repair shop/dealership service center options, and found that price and relationships are making consumers push the independent trigger - unless their vehicle is under a dealership warranty. But, with so many aging cars now falling outside the warranty, this survey indicates that consumers are going to compare repair quotes - and then go where they believe the price is right."

Survey Highlights

Car Owners Trust Independent Repair Shops More/Over-charging Perception Undermines Dealership Satisfaction

Sixty-seven percent of respondents said that they trust an independent repair shop more than a dealership to repair their vehicle.


Who do you trust more to repair your car: An independent repair shop or a dealership?

Independent Repair Shop 67%
Dealership 33%

When asked why they preferred the independent repair shop, the top two reasons were:
1) a relationship with their local mechanic (40%)
2) better pricing (at nearly 30%).

Why do you trust an independent repair shop more than a dealership?

I have a relationship with my local mechanic; I always take my car there 40%
I know I'll get a better price for repairs at an independent repair shop 29%
Even though I could have them install more expensive automaker parts, they don't dictate that I have to use them 9%
Their mechanics are knowledgeable; they fix all types of vehicle brands and I trust that they can fix mine 8%
They offer the best guarantee (parts/labor) 2%
Other 12%

Furthermore, the survey revealed that over 80 claiming that the overcharge was at least $200 and nearly 20 said paying a premium or paying for unnecessary repairs / service is the worst part of the dealership experience.

But it is not all bad news for dealerships: 47 feeling neutral. However, of those who were dissatisfied with their dealership experience (30 who say they trust the dealership more than the independent shop for repairs, 60% cited the dealership mechanic's knowledge of and familiarity with their particular model as the reason for their preference.

Dealership Visits Driven by Warranties/Recalls

But it would appear that of those who go to the dealership for repairs, the vast majority are only doing so because their vehicle is under warranty or recall: 83).

Car Owners Believe They Can Save at Independent Repair Shops - and Price Quotes Prove Them Right

Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe they can save over 20 say a savings of just 10% would make them opt for the repair shop over the dealership.

This is not just perception or speculation, it's an educated opinion. Consumers are looking for comparison quotes: 78).

Savings appears to be a key driver of consumers being proactive in getting repair quotes: 78 or more, they would compare repair job price quotes.

*The AutoMD.com survey was conducted online among over 3,000 car owners from November 2 – December 12, 2012.


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  • 109 Comments
      Drakkon
      • 1 Year Ago
      True story: I had a 1987 Chrysler Conquest (you\'re jealous, it\'s ok) with a bad alternator. Our county library happened to have all three service manuals for the Conquest/Starion and I was there one night, opened it up to check some vacuum diagrams and flipped it to the page with the electrical system. In the FACTORY service manual... STEP 1: Evacuate the refrigerant STEP 2: Remove the AC compressor STEP 3: Loosen the power steering lines STEP 4: Remove the alternator I tried a different method. STEP 1: Chock the wheels and jack up the left front corner of the car STEP 2: Remove the plastic splash liner from in front the the wheel STEP 3: Remove the alternator I had the think in my hand in less than 10 minutes. The factory service manual has two purposes: repairing the car **and** ensuring that mechanics in the service department make \'enough\' money. Don\'t get me wrong, I think mechanics do deserve to make a living, but the flat rate hours of the manual method was there to create hours and separate people from their money. An independent shop is more likely to look down in there and tell you an hour or hour and a half. The dealer service manager will look in the book and tell you five.
        Abstract20
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Drakkon
        They do write those for people with very basic car knowledge. Car jobs are usually charged on time, every job has a specified time. If the technician completes the job in less time, they still charge you full time. He shouldn't be docked for doing his job well, on the other hand he can be docked for taking longer than expected. Dealerships are being much more competitive these days due to the rise of independent shops and the better prices.
      bluemoonric
      • 1 Year Ago
      Most independents were the best technicians at the dealership, they use to work for. They got tired of the BS with the dealer and went into business for themselves. Most preferred to do business in an honest and professional manner. Dealers want dollars, most don't care how they are made. I have worked in numerous dealerships and the really good technicians go out on their own. They are the technicians that do really good diagnostic work. The technicians that stay behind are usually parts changers. They read codes and change out parts. Plus, they do it on your dime. They work on commission too.
      Gorgenapper
      • 1 Year Ago
      The sh*t flinging monkeys who call themselves 'technicians' at two of my local stealerships couldn't even perform a TSB properly on my car on four separate occasions (three of them to fix things that I noticed after the 'repair').
      Andre Neves
      • 1 Year Ago
      They're all crook on way or the other. Always trying to stick their hands in your pockets when you least expect it. Dealerships are the worst though.
      DeathKnoT
      • 1 Year Ago
      Join the forum for your car, and do the repairs yourself. Thats what i do. most of the common problems will be on the forum and fixes. Don't throw parts at the problem either. Break out the diagnosing tools. I own quite a few in just the 2 years I've been doing my own work on my truck. I also have some specialty tools for when my injection pump had to be replaced and timed.
        CTizzle
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DeathKnoT
        Ahh yes BUT....oh what to do In November-March when you don't live in AZ, or California, and NOBODY has thought of Self-serve garages in your state...wait a minute...I'm giving myself an excellent biz idea lol...as you were lol!
          michigan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CTizzle
          It sucks crawling around on a freezing garage floor in the winter but it can be done
      Random Guy
      • 1 Year Ago
      A new car with warranty=get your repairs at dealership.. A used Car without Warranty=Save tones of money and go to independent
        Avinash Machado
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Random Guy
        Agreed.
        AcidTonic
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Random Guy
        Warranty isn't void if you go elsewhere.... keep docs.
          John
          • 1 Year Ago
          @AcidTonic
          In certain cases it may be if the independant isnt aware of a part update and causes an issue or if it is stated as such in the warranty. Hell, using fuel with any ethanol at all (even e10) in a Ferrari can void the warranty. Documents are alright in oil change cases and so fourth but they may not be suitable for other issues. I will also say that an independant will not always save you money as it may result in a lesser quality fix or a miss diagnosed fix. There were plenty of times working at independant shops where we would get a vehicle only to farm it out directly to the dealer down the road because we couldn't really do the work we said we were doing. This happens all the time.
      Ricardo Agustín Pére
      I like the peace of mind that comes with going to a dealer. They always use OEM parts, they usually know exactly what's wrong with your car, they are experienced with your particular model, and if they don't get it right the first time, you can go back and they have your service records and can keep working on it without charging you again. The key is having a good relationship with your local dealer. I always take my cars to the dealer, they give me the best loaner vehicles they have, they let me keep the loaner for several days if I can't return right away, and if it's out of warranty, they're usually willing to negotiate on the price and bring it pretty close to what I'd pay at an independent shop. It's a no-brainer really.
      DKano
      • 1 Year Ago
      I prefer to do most of the work myself and will only go to the dealer when the work is just out of my reach, like engine work.
      Nick Allain
      • 1 Year Ago
      I live too far from a dealer to really use them. If they were closer and easier to use than an independent shop, I would likely choose the dealer. I've had some really bad experiences recently at indie shops. One guy who squirted transmission fluid on the underside of my car then asked me to come see how much my transmission was leaking (it wasn't and I knew better) and another guy who looked at car and said "probably something wrong with the brake or wheel on that side" then handed me the key and walked off. One guy wanted to fix something that wasn't broken and the other didn't want to fix something that wasn't safe to drive. That said, the place that didn't want to fix my car treats my mother entirely different which goes to show that YMMV. I've pretty much decided to learn as I go from now on and do as much as possible myself. I probably can't do it all but for the love of cars, I'm going to try.
      samagon0
      • 1 Year Ago
      this is so silly. you trust who you know. if you build a rapport with a dealership service department you'll feel safe with them, if you build a rapport with jiffy lube they're still a bunch of low wage people who don't care what happens to your car, and you take your car to get major repairs done at some independent that a friend told you about. go where you trust.
      56Jalopy
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't trust dealers with my car. I have had too many bad experiences and even had to repair a few things that where under warranty because dealer mechanics could not figure out the problem. This includes all of the big three US car makers and several foreign ones.
      geoffrer
      • 1 Year Ago
      If it's something I'm confident I can do myself, and I have the time, I'll do it. I save some money and I get the experience of working on my car. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon :-)
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