Pros and Cons of Auto Repair Shop Types


  • Dealerships employ factory-trained mechanics and use OEM (original equipment manufacturer) replacement parts. These facilities generally use the latest diagnostic equipment, and the mechanics become familiar with the job at hand because they often repair the same model cars and encounter the same repairs.

All of this makes running this type of shop very expensive and consequently more expensive to the consumer. Dealerships do, however, have four sources of income – new car sales, used car sales, part sales, and service. These sources can help offset their overhead.

Auto Repair Shop Types Pros and Cons of Auto Repair Shop Types

A drawback of dealerships is that a different mechanic will work on your car each time you bring it in unless you can make a request from the service manager.

  • Chain stores fix a variety of different car models and generally do a lot of volume. They tend to be less expensive than dealerships and usually stock a large selection of parts, which are usually under their own name brand. The repairs they do are usually the type that can get you in and out as soon as possible. They usually guarantee their work, and if they are large they might have branches at many locations.

On the downside, if the chain store offers its mechanics a piece of the action (commission) for selling the work, the mechanics might be overanxious to sell you work you really do not need.

These types of shops generally will not assign the same technician to your car each time.

  • Franchise muffler shops or transmission shops are owned and operated by individuals. The advantage to these types of shops is that you receive the benefits of both a large company’s resources and an individual owner’s interests. These shops are usually well stocked and managed. They benefit from large-scale advertising and they usually offer good guarantees.

Because muffler shops and transmission shops primarily repair mufflers and transmissions, they have more experience and equipment in these fields than general repair shops.

The downside is that they do not use OEM parts and the consumer pays for their aggressive advertising.

  • Independent shops rely on word-of-mouth referrals or local advertising. They are owned by individual proprietors or partnerships. They may be small or large, but generally they offer a more personalized service. You may come to know the owner or one of the mechanics on a first-name basis. (Remember, it is harder to take advantage of a repeat customer, especially if you develop a rapport with them.) Another advantage is that the cost of repairs may not always be set in stone. If business is slow or if the repairs are extensive, an independent shop manager may cut a deal to secure the job.

Auto Repair Shop Types 1 Pros and Cons of Auto Repair Shop Types

The downside is that an independent shop may not have the expertise of a dealership on some specific models and repairs. After all, someone who fixes the same type of automobile day in and day out might have the edge over a mechanic who develops his work experience over many different models.

  • Due to zoning laws and perturbed neighbors, backyard mechanics are not as prevalent as they once were. However, some wage-earning mechanics do take side jobs to make extra money. The only real benefit is that a backyard mechanic can afford to charge you a lot less than a shop because he does not have the same overhead. The downside is that he probably does not have a lift, which is sometimes necessary to work efficiently. He does not have insurance in the event your car kills someone or catches on fire after it was improperly repaired. You may save some money on the repair but the risk in the event of a problem is high.
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