Dealership or Repair Shop? Debunks Top Five Myths

Car Owners can Save an Estimated $300+ a Year Opting for an Independent Service Shop, but Should They?

Carson, CA – May 17, 2010 – Car owners can save an estimated $300+ a year1on average by opting for their local independent repair shop versus the car dealership according to (, the most comprehensive and unbiased free online auto repair resource – but should they? In an analysis released today, debunks the Top Five Dealership versus Independent Repair Shop Myths, helping dissect when it is best to go to the dealership service center (where car owners spend approximately $56.7 billion a year2) versus the independent service and maintenance shop (where car owners can save an estimated 25% on their total repair bill1).

“There are many factors in deciding where to go for your vehicle’s service and repair; and, in some cases, the dealership service center can make more sense than the local repair shop for recalls, warranty work or complex repair issues,” said President Shane Evangelist. “But for many jobs, if the car owner does his/her research and finds the right independent repair shop, the work required can be done expertly while also saving hundreds of dollars.”

By debunking the Top Five Dealership versus Repair Shop Myths, continues its mission to empower car owners to make the service and repair decisions that are best for their vehicle … and for their wallet.”’s Top Five Dealership versus Repair Shop Myths

  5. THE RELATIONSHIP MYTH Debunks the Myths

If I don’t get all my service done at the dealership, I lose my warranty. Not true! You are legally allowed to have anyone service your vehicle for issues not covered by your warranty -- provided the job is done correctly -- without impacting the validity of your warranty. This is part of a federal statute enacted in 1975 called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Meaning: you can get maintenance and service not covered under your warranty (such as oil changes, etc.) done at an independent shop without impacting your warranty. Click here to read more

OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts used by dealerships are what my car needs, are higher quality than what I will get at the repair shop and there is no chance those parts will ruin my car. Not True! The fact is that OEM parts can fail as well (which is why there are parts and service departments at the dealership) -- and are not necessarily better than other brands of aftermarket parts, which can often exceed OEM specifications. Click here to read more

I should always opt for an independent repair shop because they have much lower labor rates and are just as good at repairing my vehicle as the dealership Not True! While it is definitely true that labor rates generally are much cheaper at your local repair shop (as much as 20% less on average3) than at the auto dealership, and that many of them specialize by brand and even have OEM-certified mechanics on staff, it is not always the best option, especially if you own a later model year vehicle and the job is complex. For those jobs, dealerships most often will have the upper hand as they not only have the diagnostic equipment supplied by the factory, but also the proprietary and – in some cases - restricted OEM codes and information needed to diagnose and repair the more advanced technology issues in newer vehicles.

However, this myth could soon go away with passage of the Right to Repair Act4 recently introduced in the US Senate – which would prevent auto manufacturers and others from restricting access to repair information. 5 But, regardless of the outcome of the Right to Repair Act, there is no cheaper labor than free -- which is what you should get at the dealership for work covered under your warranty or in the event of a recall. Click here to read more

Dealerships are the only ones who can keep all my service records current, so they will know exactly what my car needs and when to get it done. Not True! While it is true that dealerships do keep your service records current, nowadays they are not alone – most independent shops also keep customer service records. In fact, with the availability of easy online programs that maintain and update service records with little effort, car owners should keep their own service records – this is particularly important in the event of a resale of the vehicle. Click here to read more

I have a relationship with the dealership because I bought my car there, and can trust the service center mechanics to do only the necessary service and repairs. Not True! The fact is that your relationship is with the service writer whose pay is based on the amount of service he/she writes. You have no direct contact with the dealership mechanics or technicians (who more than likely will turnover with frequency), so the relationship is not personal. In a smaller independent repair shop, you are more likely to have a more direct relationship with the owner of the shop and even the mechanic. Click here to read more

Information is Power:

So, what’s the bottom line? There is no question that dealerships have higher labor rates, and that the American consumer, according to both AIAA and data, can save an average of 25%1 by going to an independent repair shop. Saving money is important but not all independent repair shops can do the repairs. So, in all auto repair and maintenance issues, caveat emptor (buyer beware)! advocates that consumers make sure that they do their research and know their warranty and service history. And, importantly, that they check online for the best shops for their individual service issue -- starting with’s Shopfinder, which provides geo-specific information on capabilities and hourly rates, as well as consumer feedback forums for over 400,000 repair shops and dealerships across the country.

  1. 1 Sources: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Federal Highway Administration Statistics, Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), and Calculations based on industry vehicle cost per mile and average vehicles per licensed driver resulting in average consumer spend of $971 a year on auto repair and maintenance. Adjusted for industry mix (dealer/independent,) and AAIA savings study suggests consumers spend on average $1,209 a year at a new car dealer and $903 elsewhere. This equates to over $300 in annual savings.
  2. 2 Source: AAIA 2010 Digital Factbook
  3. 3 Source: (Phone survey of over 50,000 dealerships and independent repair shops)
  4. 4 Source: Text of H.R. 2057: Motor Vehicle Owners Right to Repair Act of 2009:
  5. 5 Source: AAIA; Right to Repair Act: