I get this question quite often. Should I take my car to the dealership for service or should I take it to an individual shop.
The problem with this question. people tend to assume that the dealer is the best place to get there vehicle serviced. In a perfect world the answer would be Yes. However we don’t live in a perfect world and the way dealerships (most) pay there employees (auto technicians) you are likely to be sold service and repairs that your vehicle simply does not need and or get repairs performed that were rushed and done incorrectly.
Dealership pay plans for auto technicians. Let’s say Joe is one of the dealerships best technicians. Joe gets paid $31.00 hour which is not bad. But Joe or any other technician doesnt get paid for the time he is on the job. No, Joe gets paid by how many cars he can
break fix. Let’s say your car a 2007 toyota Camry needs an alternator. Joe gets paid 0.3hrs to guess What’s wrong diagnose your car and 0.8hrs to replace your alternator, do paper work, confirm the repair and test drive your car as part of the repair confirmation. That’s only 1.1hrs start to finish which is not a lot of time. But Joe is good, he gets it all done in 0.5hrs. This makes Joe a winner because he is now ahead of the game. If Joe continues to work like this all day he will make 16 hours worth of pay @ $31Hr and only have worked 8 hours. Sounds wonderful right. But you were not so lucky to have Joe (the perfect tech in the perfect world) work on your Camry, instead Steve worked on your Camry and Steve is struggling to keep up because Joe is so fast and Joe gets all the work. So Steve being paid the same way ( flat rape flat rate is the term used by the industry) as Joe wants to make money too, so Steve takes shortcuts, rushes, and forgets to tighten this bolt, that clamp, and skips the road test all together (Still seem like a good idea to have your vehicle serviced at the dealer?). Now imagine it’s a slow week and very few customers come in for repairs. This means very little pay for both Joe and Steve. So now Joe and or Steve is going to find every single thing wrong with your vehicle in hopes to make up there bad week on your dime.
Believe it or not, most technicians at the dealer are like Steve not Joe. But if you find a Joe, make sure you request that Joe works on your vehicle and no one else! Now I’m not saying that dealers are a terrible place to get your car fixed. But you should not be so naive as to believe it’s the best option.
The independent shop: Most independent shops don’t pay there technicians flat rate. They get paid hourly or salary or even salary plus commission. But there is a lot less pressure for the technician to get things done in a wreckless manner or attempt to sell you unnecessary service.
How do I choose where to go for service? Ask around, Friends, family, neighbors, look at yelp reviews. The best way to find a good place to service your vehicle be it independent or dealer is via word of mouth. Busy shops are sometimes an indication that they do good honest work. If you own a European vehicle (BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, audi, Porsche, etc, etc) try to find a specialist. Service information that is supplied to the general public (auto Repair shops) for European vehicles are often wrong, incorrect, or incomplete. So sometimes it just takes a specialist or an indie that has lots of experience with European vehicles. Again, ask around.