(Columbia) March 8, 2005 - Fred Indorf owns his own auto repair shop. He says one of the benefits of going to an independent mechanic is the one-on-one relationship, "All our customers are return customers. Once they usually get to know us, they keep coming back."
For routine maintenance, like rotating your tires and changing the oil, you can save plenty by taking your car to an independent shop rather than a dealership.
Rik Paul with Consumer Reports says you don't have to worry about your warranty, "Many people think you jeopardize a vehicle's warranty by not taking it to a dealership. But federal law protects you. You can have your vehicle serviced anywhere you like."
If you prefer to go to a dealership for routine check-ups, it turns out you can save money there, too. Paul says a comparison of dealership prices for a tune-up found the amounts charged were all over the map, "We spoke to seven different dealerships in one area about a $60,000 mile service on the same vehicle. We got seven different quotes. And they varied by almost $800."
Most of the dealers wanted to do more work than the auto manufacturer recommends. Check your owner's manual to make sure you're not paying for work you don't need.
Sometimes dealership service is a must. For one, if you need repairs done that are still under the original warranty. Also, if there's a safety recall notice that the automaker is offering to correct.
Some extended warranties require you to go to a dealer for repairs, otherwise the warranty is voided.
One of the best ways to find a reliable auto mechanic is ask your family and friends where they take their cars. It's also a good idea to look for a shop that's both Triple-A approved and a member of the Better Business Bureau.