In most cities, you have a variety of places where you can take your car for repair. Major dealerships all maintain their own repair shops. Independent auto repair shops see many different makes and models of cars, and specialty shops focus on one particular make. If you need to take your car in for repair, here are some things to consider when deciding which shop to call.
Dealership Repair Shops
These shops have the most current information on your car. They can show you the defect list, recall list and service history for your particular make and model. The mechanics use factory parts and they perform repairs per official guides published by the manufacturers. The prices for labor and parts are set so there is no room for negotiation.
You'll know that your car is repaired "by the book" when going to a dealership, which can also be a drawback. For example, if you have an electrical short caused by one bare wire in a wiring harness, the dealership guide may tell the mechanic to replace the entire wiring harness. But you can be sure that the problem was fixed. If you're on a tight budget, the dealership may not be your first choice.
Independent Repair Shops
The mechanic in these auto repair shops have access to much of the same materials and training as the staff at the dealership. But they are not held to the same corporate policies as the dealer's repair shop. For example, they can choose from a variety of aftermarket parts and can even use rebuilt parts if you're on a slim budget.
You can often deal directly with the owner and negotiate the price and how the work is done. In the wiring example above, the shop may recommend replacing the wiring harness, but you may ask that they try to do as little as necessary to fix the problem. This may let you pay for a little electrical tape instead of an entire wiring harness. Just be aware that these shops take pride in their work, too, so they likely won't warrant the electrical-tape fix but will stand behind the wiring harness.
Independent Specialty Repair Shops
The mechanics in this shop focus on one car make and model. They become intimately familiar with these cars and can tell you the high points and quirks of each car. There are fewer of these shops than any other auto repair shop, so you may have to drive through the city to find one that specializes in your car. However, if you have a unique problem with your car, these mechanics can find and fix it. Depending on the problem, the prices you'll expect to pay are somewhere between the dealer and general repair shop prices.
Your choice of repair shop depends on your budget and how confident you are that they will fix your car properly. You may want to talk to a few shops before you are confident that you've found a place that will take good care of your car. For more information, contact a business such as Professional Automotive.