Car Serviced at the Dealership or Private Shop - Which Is Really Better?

When choosing a place to service your car, there are a lot of things to think about. The dealership uses original factory parts, and the technicians are trained by the manufacturer. However, many people swear by local mechanics, saying you'll save a ton.

It's important to understand how each operates so you can make a more educated decision.

The Dealership

Dealerships only repair and maintain the car brand that's on the building. They work on hundreds of cars every month, and their mechanics are trained by the factory. The way in which they deal with your car is very specialized and brand-focused.

Service technicians at the dealership can meet with you to assess your car's needs, and you'll likely never meet the actual mechanic. If you have a warranty, the manufacturer can cover most of your repairs. If your warranty expires, extended warranties are available to you.


The services at a dealership are much more specialized. They can offer warranties and services backed by the manufacturer, and they have access to the latest recalls and repair processes. That means that when you take your car in to get serviced, they're maintaining much more than just the problem at hand. They're also making sure everything else is in proper working order before you drive away.

All of this specialized care costs money. You will most likely pay more for the extra attention. You should familiarize yourself with your owner's manual, so you don't pay for any unnecessary work. You could also sign up for savings from the dealership via a mailing list of coupons.

When you go to the dealership, you have the peace of mind knowing that they'll be able to find the problem and fix it fast while an independent mechanic may not have the specialized knowledge to do it as quickly. A local shop may waste your time and your money on a generic diagnostic process that's not tailored to your vehicle.


Labor is often more expensive at a dealership because they pay high salaries for highly trained and experienced mechanics. You pay higher prices for the services knowing that what you're getting is specialized and quality work.


Aftermarket parts don't pass the same rigorous tests as original manufacturer parts and equipment. They may fit and work just fine in the beginning, but they also may not last as long or work as efficiently. Many people believe the original parts are always the best way to go.

These processes ensure a high level of quality control. However, if the part you need is out of stock at the dealership, you'll wait for shipping, and the prices will be higher.

Customer Service

Because so many people come to the dealership with cars that are still under warranty, they don't have to try as hard to keep these customers or attract new ones. They will always get incremental business from these customers.

Service managers get a commission on any repairs they recommend, so they may recommend services you don't necessarily need to drum up sales for additional parts and labor.

On the flip side, you will always deal with someone who is clean and looks professional, because the customer-facing people at the dealership are not the ones who work on the cars. The presentation is nice, and for some people, that matters.


Dealerships have nice waiting rooms. They have snacks and drinks, cozy chairs, TVs, and clean restrooms. If you're waiting on your vehicle, you may be more comfortable at the dealership. If you're not waiting, they have shuttles or loaners that you can borrow while they have your car.

Private Shops

At private auto shops, you often meet with the mechanic who is servicing your car for a first-hand account of what is happening. These garages are smaller, and they work on many different auto brands. You may find that many of them are staffed by technicians who used to work at the dealership, and some even honor third-party warranties.


The services offered at private shops are more personalized and generally less expensive. Always make sure the shop you visit has an Automotive Service Excellence certification. Check out reviews and shop around to find the right shop for you.


Many of the mechanics and staff at a private shop will continue their education or go to classes on various repairs so they could be just as knowledgeable or proficient as a technician at the dealership, or more. Some shops may also specialize in specific makes of vehicles, giving you some of the same specialized knowledge that a dealership offers.


If aftermarket parts bother you, a private shop has access to original parts. However, the aftermarket parts they offer are cheaper. Often, these alternative or rebuilt parts perform just as well as the manufacturer parts.

Customer Service

The great thing about private shops is they don't have to maintain loyalty to any particular brand. It's easier to build a relationship with them because they are more honest, and they have to work hard to keep your business. When you get a new vehicle, you can keep going back to them, even if it is from a different manufacturer.


Private dealerships don't have the overhead that dealerships do because they are smaller, so this reduces your prices. It's hard work finding a private shop you like because there are so many of them around. The waiting rooms may not be as comfortable, but if you strive for that personal relationship, it's the best choice for you.

For those who think nice waiting rooms or specialized equipment and training are important, then a dealership is the best place to go. If you're on the hunt for a good deal or you want a personal relationship with the mechanic, a private shop is better.

Check out Southwest Motors in Pueblo for used SUVs and trucks. Their prices and service are beyond compare, and you'll be happy with your next purchase as well as your experience.

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Southwest Motors

2600 W Us Hwy 50
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