Daily Finance recently published a good article on thinking through where you get your car repaired. Finding a good garage has been a challenge for me. My old company had a company-owned automotive service center. It was fantastic to have a place that you could go to that you would trust implicitly. The mechanics that worked their were company employees, so they had no profit incentive to screw the customer. They operated solely as a service to employees at the HQ.
Point #5 on Daily Finance’s list is “Don’t Go To Dealerships” (unless you are under warranty). I had a good lesson on this last summer. My SUV stalled on the Fourth of July and I called over to the dealership the next day. The vehicle came with a roadside assistance plan and they came to my home and put it on a flatbed truck for a visit to the dealership. It was a bad water pump and they also diagnosed a need for a brake job.
I got the water pump fixed ($1550) and waited on the brakes (that they estimated at $950). Yes, that’s $2400 in repairs, the way the BMW dealership estimates them. I decided to check out the imported auto repair place in my home town and compare the prices. They were $1750 for the same repairs ($1150 & $650). That’s almost a full third less than the dealership.
And the local place works hard to provide all of the big dealership amenities. A free shuttle to work, a nice car wash, a cold bottle of water, and a free donut in the morning. As I’ve written, I’m kind of a car guy and I am happy to shift all of our business to this place. I’m guessing we probably spend somewhere between $3K-$5K a year repairing our fleet (4 cars), so saving a third of that can make a huge difference.
I’m also interested in trying out the AutoMD website that allows you to competitively shop when you need a repair.
Any additional tips for auto repairs?
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