Car Owners are Driving Past Dealerships to Independent Repair Shops Staff
by Staff
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According to the Consumer Reports survey, capturing the preferences of car owners for their automotive repairs, there is a clear leaning towards independent shops and, in some cases, chains over dealership service departments. This preference is rooted in the experiences shared by 10,973 Consumer Reports members across 11,670 repairs at various service facilities, including 36 auto repair chains, independent shops (analyzed collectively), and dealerships.

Independent Shops and Chains: The Preferred Choice

A standout finding from the survey is the pronounced preference for independent repair shops, which, alongside the Goodyear Auto Service chain, received the highest marks for overall satisfaction. This preference is a testament to the consistent quality and customer satisfaction provided by these facilities. Independent shops, in particular, were lauded for their performance across all categories, affirming their place as the go-to option for many car owners.

Dealership Service Departments: A Varied Experience

The survey revealed a varied performance among dealership service departments, with notable differences by brand. Acura, Lexus, Mazda, and Volvo were among the brands with dealership service departments receiving high marks for overall satisfaction. In contrast, Jeep and Kia dealerships were at the lower end of the spectrum, with Hyundai not far ahead. The mixed reviews for dealership service departments underscore the importance of brand-specific experiences in shaping customer satisfaction.

In light of their low scores, attempts were made to gather comments from Jeep and Kia. Kia attributed its lower satisfaction ratings to an expansion of its owner base beyond the current service capacity of some dealers, citing efforts to increase capacity. Jeep, however, declined to comment.

The Importance of Reliable Repair Services

John Ibbotson, chief mechanic at CR’s Auto Test Center, emphasizes the predictability associated with regular maintenance in contrast to the unpredictability of repairs. This unpredictability underlines the necessity of having a reliable repair shop that can promptly address unexpected malfunctions, ensuring minimal disruption to the car owner's daily life.

Furthermore, the focus of CR’s survey on out-of-pocket repair experiences, as opposed to warranty-covered repairs, routine maintenance, or recall-related repairs, provides insights into the real-world choices and satisfaction levels of car owners when they bear the financial responsibility for repairs. This distinction is crucial for understanding the true value and satisfaction derived from the services provided by different types of repair facilities.

Incorporating these key findings enriches the discussion on automotive repair preferences, highlighting the nuanced considerations car owners must navigate when choosing a service facility. Independent shops and certain chains stand out for their ability to meet and exceed customer expectations, while dealership service departments offer a mixed but sometimes equally viable option, particularly for brand-specific issues or specialized services.

Of course, the best way to avoid any sort of dealership is service is to keep your vehicle well maintained.

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This article was co-written using AI and was then heavily edited and optimized by our editorial team. Staff Staff

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  • Prophecy Prophecy on Mar 23, 2024

    Also, in Canada dealerships charge $130/h for labour + a markup on parts. Now lets compare that to say Napa where they charge $65/h for labour and no markup on parts.

    I don't know anyone that earns $65/h let alone $130/h.

    One more thing. Dealerships bombard us with giving them a 5 star rating(for a 3 star service). This is because the manufacturer gives them $250 for every 5 star review.

    • Ottoknut Ottoknut on Mar 23, 2024

      And dealerships have 'service advisors' that earn money by pushing repairs/services on the customers that may not actually be needed. When I worked as a mechanic we took pride in our honesty and integrity. As a result we had lots of loyal customers and referrals. If you can find an honest shop with fair labour rates these days you stick with them.