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  • Writer's pictureThe Garage Eccleshall

Independent Garage vs Dealership: Which Should I Choose?

So, your vehicle needs servicing, or you need to book in for a repair. Of course, you'll want to go to the garage or dealership nearest to you, but will they provide you with the best service, knowledge, and value for money?

Your local garage is likely to either be a small independent garage or a commercial dealership, both have their pros and cons.

There are around 40,000 independent garages across the UK, servicing over 13 million cars. If you were to compare these with commercial dealerships (such as Ford or Vauxhall) there are far less of them; 8 percent of all garages in the UK are run by manufacturers (according to The Highway Code), this would equate to around 960 nationwide.

According to ‘Which? Car’ magazine's 'Garage Guide 2013', 23 percent of independent garages have received an overall score of four stars or higher compared with just 16 per cent at dealerships.

Independent garages

The scale of an independent garage's operations is one of the most significant distinctions between it and a franchise dealership. Independents may frequently be less expensive than larger companies because they have fewer overhead expenses.

Independent garages will likely have a more personalised service with a friendly, knowledgeable team, personally knowing customers relying on word of mouth to grow its customer base.

This is especially true in small towns where garages are likely to be locally owned by those who know the area well and have a reputation in the town. You will frequently be able to talk directly with the mechanic who is working on your vehicle, who will be able to share their knowledge and inform you precisely what's going on under the bonnet.

Because of this you are able to ask more questions about your vehicle's issues and have a proper conversation, whereas some dealerships may just hand over the bill with little explanation!

By repeatedly using the same independent garage they will get to know you, your car, and your driving, and therefore advise on what needs doing to make sure your car is running appropriately for you as an individual. For example, if you are changing your driving habits to do significantly more, or as recently been the case for most of us, less miles.

This can mean they might bring a service item forward in the schedule to give you peace of mind preventing failure, or inspect a part and put changing it back, if they don’t feel it needs it. This will give you a safer and better value maintenance schedule for your car and save you money in the long run.

Not only this but some independent garages may specialise in specific areas (for example The Garage, Eccleshall has significant expertise in Mazda MX5s, Land Rovers and performance BMWs).

However, there are some limitations, local garages that are not dealerships often cannot perform some warranty work – because they are not authorised to provide repairs by the manufacturer. Some garages, although not able to complete the work themselves will include third parties to get the job done. Don’t necessarily let this put you off, local garages are more approachable so just ask the question first.

Main Dealership

There are several advantages to choosing a main dealership to service or repair your car. First and foremost, you can be more confident that your warranty will be guaranteed, especially relevant if you are driving a nearly new car. While some independents may be warranty-approved, a dealership can guarantee this, which goes a long way toward safeguarding the residual value of your car.

Dealerships will make certain their components are certified by the manufacturers themselves, not to mention the access they have to the most up-to-date diagnostic and monitoring equipment, which independents are less likely to have in their garage.

Sometimes you can often get better deals on repairs and replacement parts if you purchase an extended warranty or service plan from them.

One of the biggest benefits of dealing with a garage is their diagnostic equipment, although this also relies on them having the appropriately skilled staff available, which may not always be possible. This will help them find any faults in your car quickly and easily - which may reduce labour costs, in theory reducing the overall price. However, depending on the parts or issues, this may not be the case and sometimes dealerships can have higher standard costs.

This is in part due to the larger number of overheads they need to account for at their facilities, such as staff numbers, but depending on which garage you use there may also be potential hidden fees. Ask for a cost breakdown for any task carried out so that the figures are in black and white.

Servicing your car with a dealership will usually have a positive benefit on your car’s resale value when you come to sell the car. Potential buyers will often prefer to see services provided by dealerships rather than independent garages as they can guarantee the quality of the service. This is definitely worth considering if you've purchased a new or nearly-new car.

Our Conclusion

Independent garages will likely not be as expensive in the long run, offer better customer service and you are able to help a local business in your area whereas you may perceive dealerships may give you peace of mind.

We recommend that you explore the reviews (Google Reviews, Facebook, Yell) online and see what other people had to say about the garage. This will give you a great indication of the quality of service and can help you make the decision.

The Garage, Eccleshall is an independently owned garage that has been a part of the community for decades. Taken over in 2019 by new, local management, The Garage continues to service the community with MOT, Servicing, Repairs, Wheel Alignment & Tyres and more. The Garage, Eccleshall also has expertise in the repairing, maintaining, customizing and modifying of MX5 sports cars.



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