The Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation in 2003 allowed motorists the freedom to choose where they had their car maintenance and vehicle services carried out. No longer were warranties tied to dealerships or franchises, as long as the new operator stuck to genuine and recommended parts and consumables.
With the freedom of choice firmly in the hands of each driver and car owner, the majority headed to their favourite independent garages over the dealerships for their full, major or interim car services, with some surveys estimating the preference as high as 70% of drivers.
Today, we’re going to consider the merits of both and why most motorists feel better opting for the friendly face of their local mechanic over the commercial car dealership.
The advantages of having your car serviced at a dealership
With their giant forecourts full of cars, an expanse of glass and polished chrome, and an array of staff floating around each showroom, the car manufacturer dealership already looks expensive—before you even get a foot through the door.
However, they don’t always deliver the higher prices we expect of them, and without a doubt, they have the most up-to-date tools and diagnostic equipment for their brand. However, all of that glitter and tech costs money. And that money has got to come from their customers’ pockets one way or another.
So why do so many drivers still choose to use dealerships? Here’s why.
To protect the resale value of your new car
With a full manufacturer’s service history, your car will achieve a far better figure when the time comes to sell it. A dealership service history shows the level of love and attention the car has received since it first hit the road and that only genuine parts and recommended replacements have graced its cabin, engine, and exterior.
The confidence that supplied the driver looking at buying a used car is often worth the extra cost.
Simpler warranty claims
With plenty of car marques throwing several services and MOTs in with their warranties, you’d be foolish not to take advantage of such an offer. Nobody can beat free, can they?
When the playing field is levelled, and the choice comes to finally save a decent chunk of cash on a car service, you can’t blame any driver for taking advantage of a smaller operation and its lower prices.
However, even working within motoring laws, manufacturers can void warranty claims with no written proof that the recommended parts and consumables have been used. So for that point alone, drivers with relatively new vehicles will stick to the dealerships, ‘just in case’.
The advantages of having your car serviced at an independent garage
Here at Fixter, we champion the local mechanics and independent garages—and rightly so. Depending on the age and the condition of your car, your independent garage offers several advantages that make them so popular with so many car owners.
Lower price and value for money
When choosing a car service, the most considered metric—if you haven’t already found your trusted mechanic—is cost. Your local garage doesn’t have the huge overheads that the dealerships do, so you’ll find far better deals.
With their innumerable overheads and mighty wage bill, Dealerships are often driven by targets to ensure profitability. Unfortunately, that can mean sales staff pushing additional items and upselling at every opportunity.
Have you ever wondered just how many of those ‘extras’ that cropped up during your service are necessary? Did all four of your tyres really need replacing? Did your brake discs really have so little life left? Many drivers with a little understanding and experience have a story of being squeezed for parts that still had plenty of life left in them.
We’re not saying all dealerships do that; far from it, most are more than trustworthy with what they do, but we have seen cases where the less informed driver has been taken advantage of. What we’re suggesting is that if you’re ever unsure, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.
Superior personal service
Take your car to a dealership for a service, and chances are you’ll never meet the mechanic working on it. However, at your local garage, you’ll probably be on first name terms with them within 10 minutes of stepping through the door.
It’s in their best interest to do a great job of your service so that you turn into the regular repeat customer they need to pay the bills. Local mechanics are the passionate motoring geeks that walk you through your car’s condition and the best way to keep it in its optimum order. I’ve regularly had mechanics go that extra mile to get the job done right and plenty of the smaller jobs throw