A full service history is important for any car. While some people always get their car serviced at the dealership, others prefer to use a recommended independent garage. The question we are asked a lot is – does it matter? Both the smaller independent garages and the commercial franchises have their pros and cons.
Probably the biggest thing that sets independent garages apart from main dealerships is the scale of their business. Independent garages tend to be considerably smaller, and therefore have less overheads than the dealer franchises. This almost always makes them the cheaper option for servicing your car.
A reputable independent garage will also tend to rely on word of mouth to grow its client base. So they will offer a more personalised service that has a much stronger focus on customer satisfaction.
Most of the time when you take your car to an independent garage, you will speak directly to the a mechanic. This is often the same person is undertaking the work on your vehicle. This is great because they will be able to share their knowledge and expertise with you. They can also explain to you exactly what your car needs and doesn’t necessarily need. Quite often, independent garages tend to be run by former technicians from the dealership. This means that they are highly trained in what they do.
Don’t be afraid to ask Questions
When it comes to choosing an independent garage to look after your car, don’t be worried about asking questions. Does the garage have the necessary certification to undertake the work? Is the work guaranteed? Do they use genuine parts directly from dealership? Sometimes lower costs can mean cheap labour and inferior parts, which will probably cost more money in the long run.
A lot of people don’t know that a lot of independent garages are unable to carry out warranty work. This is because they are not authorised by the vehicle manufacturer to carry out the repairs. They also may not have access to service information, technical support and specialist equipment that the franchise dealerships do. This is not always a dealbreaker, but it is something to consider.
When it comes to buying a used car, your local garage may have a larger selection to offer than a franchise. They can probably offer a lower price too. Remember the importance of a service history when buying any used car.
One of the often-discussed disadvantages of having your car serviced at your local independent garage, is that it could negatively affect the resale value of your car. So depending on your car, any savings you make now could be negated when it comes to selling the car. It also depends on how long you intend on keeping your current car. This disadvantage is much less relevant if you’re keeping it for several years. But it’s worth considering if you like to chop and change every two or three years.
When it comes to having your car serviced or repaired by a franchised main dealership, there are many advantages. The most important is the fact that you will get the security and reassurance that your car’s warranty will remain valid. It is true that some independent garages are warranty-approved. A franchised dealer is the real deal though and can guarantee all their work. This will go a long way in upholding your car’s value.
Car manufacturers can’t insist that you use their main dealerships to service your car. But they can easily void any claims made against them such as if non-genuine parts were used. When using a franchise, you can be sure that the components they use are certified by the vehicle manufacturers themselves. They will also have access to the most up-to-date diagnostic and monitoring equipment – something that most independent garages simply won’t have the luxury of.
The main disadvantage of using the bigger players to service or repair your car is the bigger bills. Main franchise dealers have much higher overheads than your local friendly garage. This is because they have much larger premises and more staff. So they have to pass the costs of this on to the consumer or else they simply wouldn’t make any money. It’s for this reason that it’s important to ask for a breakdown of costs before having any work done, so you have a rough idea of the amount that the parts and labour are going to cost.
Peace of Mind with a Warranty
If you want to buy used car from a franchised dealer, then they will be able to provide a warranty that is certified by the manufacturer of the vehicle. They will be able to provide you with written evidence of this. If you need to finance your car, then the dealerships will probably be able to offer you a much more competitive rate than an independent garage. This is because they have a closer relationship with the manufacturer. This might not always be the case though, and don’t forget that you will be paying more for the car in the first place. So, it’s always worth researching the best finance option to suit your needs.
As we have discussed previously, having your car serviced regularly and on time with the franchised dealer will have a positive benefit when you come to sell your car. Prospective buyers much prefer to see a dealer stamp in the service book compared to a stamp by a local garage. If your car is new or nearly new then it’s well worth considering the added cost of using a franchise dealer if you intent to sell the car at any point in the near future.
So who’s better?
When it comes to deciding whether to use an independent garage or a franchised dealer, the choice is yours. If you are looking to own your car for a considerable amount of time, it will depreciate anyway and so it may be best to save money and use an independent garage. However, if your car is new or nearly new and you don’t intend to keep it for more than two or three years, then it may be worth the additional expensive of having it serviced at the main dealer. Before you make up your mind, be sure to check online for reviews as this will make the decision much easier and less risky.