One of the biggest debates when it comes to auto repair is whether to go to a trusted dealer or opt for an independent repair shop. To tell you the truth, there is no straightforward answer as to which is the best option. Both options have their pros and cons that you must weigh when deciding to whom to turn.
In an effort to help drive sales to dealerships, companies are investing more on highly skilled and trained technicians. These technicians are usually experts on that particular brand of car, which means they are not only able to pinpoint the exact problem with your car, but they can do it more efficiently. Typically, auto dealerships charge a flat rate based on the amount of time they estimate it will take to fix the issue. If the technician takes longer to fix the problem, you only pay for the estimated time. On the other hand, if it takes less time, you still pay for the entire estimated time. This leads some technicians to rush through their work.
Most independent shops have only a few technicians and the owner is usually on site. This means you are able to get to know everyone at the shop and develop a more personal relationship with the company. You may even have a "preferred" technician. Usually, this is how independent shops build their business. Technicians are paid hourly, based on performance, or a salary. This helps to mitigate the urge to rush through repairs. Although independent repair shops are able to access the same information on each model of car as a dealership, technicians often only know a little about each model and are not typically experts on your particular car.
In Atlanta, the cost difference between a dealership and an independent auto repair shop may be around $200 or more. As such, when getting your car repaired, you need to consider your budget compared to when you need your car back on the road. If you do not mind paying a little more money, it may be worth seeing a dealership to have a more efficient auto repair, but if you have a tighter budget, an independent shop is probably the best match for you.