To make an informed decision about whether to use the car dealership or an independent garage, we’ve put together this useful guide.
Should I service my car at the dealership?
If your car is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, a condition of the warranty may be to have it serviced at a dealership that specialises in the car make. If you miss a car service or take it to a non-approved garage, this could make the warranty void. Some warranties include one or more free car services at the dealership. Some car makers also provide free MOT and breakdown cover in their warranties, provided that the dealership services the cars.
Some car manufacturers will provide what they class as “goodwill payments” towards car repairs if the vehicle has been serviced at the dealership and breaks down shortly after the warranty expires.
A car service includes changing the oil and air filters. A major service also involves replacing the spark plugs, adding antifreeze and topping up or changing brake and power-steering fluid. The main dealer will make sure that all parts and fluids used are official or those recommended for use in your make and model of car.
As well as a service, a dealership will do safety checks that can identify potential issues, such as worn brake pads and tyres. If the car is near its MOT date, an expert mechanic may also do a quick check and let you know if any faults in your vehicle could cause the car to fail its MOT test.
Car dealerships have highly trained staff that specialise in one make of car. They also have specialised equipment designed for their car models. Behind the scenes, they may upgrade the car software and repair minor faults that are not serious enough for a car recall. You may not even know that they have carried out this extra work for as they may not charge for it.
Is it worth getting a car serviced at the dealership?
It may be cheaper to get your car serviced at an independent garage than at the car dealership that specialises in the make of car you have, but there are many reasons to use the car dealership. Most car dealerships will have fixed prices, so you know exactly how much it is going to cost you. Some car manufacturers offer a monthly payment scheme that covers the services your car needs during the year.
A cheaper non-dealership service may not include safety checks and software upgrades. Don’t assume that your car dealer is more expensive than a local garage – many dealerships offer services at competitive prices to encourage customers to use them.
From time to time, car dealerships have promotions that save money on servicing. If a promotion fits in with your service schedule, take advantage of it.
It doesn’t matter how new or old your car is, it needs regular servicing by well-trained mechanics. A car dealership has a reputation to keep, and some argue that they will do a better job of servicing than an independent garage. However, if you have an older model car that is not under warranty and know a trusted mechanic that can service it, you may be satisfied with an independent garage.
Independent garages are often smaller than dealerships and may offer a more personalised service. Some independent mechanics have been trained by car companies, so their skills might be on par with the trained mechanics of the car dealership, but they may not be fully knowledgeable about the latest models. If you are thinking of using an independent garage make sure that they only use genuine parts suitable for your make and model of car.
For a new car or used car that is under a manufacturers’ warranty, you should be aware that if you do not have it serviced at the car dealership, you may void your warranty.
For older cars not under manufacturer’s warranty, you could choose an independent garage if it is cheaper and has a good reputation. Check online reviews to find out about customers’ experiences with the garage.
If you have bought an extended car warranty, this will probably require that the car be regularly serviced. They may not insist on using a car dealership, but you do need to have it serviced at a reputable garage.
If you have a high-end or expensive car that is not mass produced, it is probably wise to use the car dealership for servicing as independent garages may not have staff with expertise in that make of car. If you have a luxury model or top-of-the-range sports car, it’s worth paying the extra at a car dealership for mechanics that have been properly trained in serving your particular car.
If you decide to sell your car on, you may find that it easier to sell a car with a record of car dealership service than one that doesn’t have such a record.
Can you service your car at a different dealership?
You can service your car at any dealership or garage, or you can do it yourself if you have the necessary skills. You can go to any garage or mechanic for a car service, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should.
At Car.co.uk, we appreciate that your car may be one of the most expensive items you own. To keep in tiptop condition, it’s important to have it serviced regularly. For a fairly new car, you might decide that it’s best to go for a service at the dealership. For older cars, whether or not you get your car serviced at a dealership or garage is often down to personal preference.