Dealership vs Mechanic: Where Should You Take Your Car For Service?

Dealership vs Mechanic: Where Should You Take Your Car For Service?

When you need maintenance or repairs on your vehicle, it can be difficult to decide where to go. The choice between a dealership or a mechanic isn’t cut and dry.

There are some situations where one might be better than the other and vice versa. Which services can be done by a mechanic vs. which auto services should be done at the car dealership? Let’s take a look.

When You’re On a Tight Schedule

If you’re on a tight schedule for getting your car maintained or repaired, you should lean toward a car dealership. Compared to a mechanic shop, car dealerships are larger and less in demand due to higher prices. They can go through jobs quickly, while a mechanic shop generally prioritizes emergencies. Dealerships also almost always have loaner vehicles available so you can be on your way while your car gets serviced.

When Your Late-Model Car Has An Electronics Issue

Modern vehicles are packed full of electronics and computers, which means they require advanced diagnostic equipment. Dealerships already have this equipment and are well prepared to service random electronics issues that often pop up in late-model cars. A car dealership also has specialists who already know the ins and outs of the brands they service. With a mechanic, you could end up paying them to learn about your car.

When You’re On a Tight Budget and Need a Convenient Location

If you have a general repair issue, a tight budget, and you need a convenient location, your local mechanic shop is probably the better choice. It’s no secret that car dealership service shops are more expensive than the average mechanic shop. So if you don’t have a specialized problem and you’re on a budget, it’s generally easier and cheaper to take it to a mechanic.

When You Have an Old Car

Just as car dealerships tend to know the ins and outs of the latest models they’re selling, mechanics who have been in business for a while tend to be better at diagnosing and fixing older vehicles. Dealerships also take a by-the-book approach. They might take up to six hours of labor to fix something that might take a mechanic an hour by not removing as many parts.

When Your Car Is Under Warranty

If your car is new and under warranty, going to a car dealership is generally the better choice. Dealer-installed parts may come with lifetime warranties, depending on the brand. When you go to sell your car, records of strict dealership servicing during the warranty period will look more appealing to the buyer.

When Your Uncommon Car Has a Rare Mechanical Issue

If you have a high-end import model that suddenly encounters a random and unusual mechanical issue, you’ll generally want to get it serviced at a brand car dealership. Some mechanical problems are such a complex mix of sensors, motors, and body parts that a regular mechanic will know when to walk away. Dealerships and mechanics also consult each other so that one might recommend the other depending on your problem.

In most cases, there’s no clear overall choice between a car dealership and a mechanic. It often comes down to your specific situation, time constraints, and your vehicle.

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