Independent Auto Repair vs. the Dealership

The Independent Auto Repair Shop vs. the Dealership

What's the different?

Why the extra cost?

Do I really need to bring my car to the dealership? 

We get a lot of questions about servicing a car. A question that we get most often is: "Do I have to take my car to the nearest dealer for service and repair?"

We’ve all asked ourselves that question at one time or another. Of course, any new car dealer would like to have your service business, but there are a lot of reasons to turn to the automotive aftermarket (or independent repair shop) for routine maintenance services as well as repairs.

First, let’s get some terms straight. New car dealers and manufacturers are referred to as Original Equipment Manufacture  – or OEM providers. Everybody else is in the Automotive Aftermarket (or Independent Auto Repair). That includes auto parts stores, quick lubes, tire and service, and repair centers.

It’s important to know how the automotive industry works. Most car manufacturers don’t actually make their own parts and none of them make all of the parts they use. Instead, there are over 5,000 manufacturers that make the parts used to build new cars as well as to repair used cars.

When a new car dealer pushes the myth that you need to go to them to get “genuine parts” or in order to maintain your vehicle warranty, that isn't fair to the client. The Automotive Aftermarket can install the exact same original equipment parts from the same parts manufacturer that supplies the dealer and keep your vehicle under the manufacture warranty. Do I need to bring my car to the dealership for service?

One of the advantages of the aftermarket is that they’re free to innovate and improve. The aftermarket is quick to step in and fix design problems in Original Equipment parts. They’re also able to improve on reliability and performance.

Parts Options

When you use your independent aftermarket service center you’ll get parts that meet or exceed manufacturers’ specifications. You‘ll also have the freedom to choose replacement parts that meet your budget, improve performance, buy used if you prefer, or continue with great OEM parts.

This freedom of choice is protected by law. You’re not required to use the dealership for service or to use the manufacturer’s brand of parts or fluids in order to maintain your vehicle warranty. Your local service center knows what products are recommended for your vehicle and can help keep you safely and economically on the road.

It’s like when you go to the hairdresser. They have a wide range of products you can choose from. You can buy something that’s less expensive when your budget’s tight, or kick it up a notch if you want. That’s the freedom of choice you get in the automotive aftermarket.

Some new car dealerships lead you to believe that only their technicians are able to properly service or repair your make of vehicle. That may be true if you drive a Ferrari, but for the rest of us, most training that technicians have is specific but transferable to many cars on the road.


We invest heavily in training our technicians and in making sure that they have all of the high tech diagnostic and service equipment to take good care of you. Hey, we live in the information age – we have access to the latest specifications, problem reports and repair solutions for your vehicle.


Like your hairdresser – she probably knows you. She knows your personality, all about your family, and maybe even a few secrets. Your technician should also know you, and your car.  What is your vehicle used for? How long do you want to keep it? What type of performance are you expecting from the car or truck? You can’t underestimate the value of that relationship.


Your vehicles are a big investment and you have to rely on them. Make sure you trust the person that works on your vehicle, your investment.

I am one of the owners of A+ Japanese Auto Repair in San Carlos CA. I can speak on behalf of some of the greatest independent auto repair shops in the nation. There are many out there giving clients great service every day.

They can get the right parts, have the training to fix your vehicle, and has a very strong commitment to your satisfaction. And for most of us, they’re more conveniently located and can usually perform maintenance services with less wait and hassle.


Disclaimer: This article is provided for general informational purposes only.  It is not intended as advice for your particular vehicle, and should not be relied upon for that purpose.  Please consult a qualified automotive maintenance professional to determine the maintenance and repair needs for your vehicle.

Categories: Car Maintenance
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