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Study: Consumers Trust Independent Shops Over Dealerships

An online survey on auto repair conducted by AutoMD.com found that, while consumers are generally satisfied with their dealership experience, they trust independent repair shops over dealerships for auto repairs by two to one (67 percent to 33 percent). Better prices and mechanic relationships were the keys for independent repair shop preference, with 80 percent surveyed reporting that they felt they had been overcharged for a repair at a dealership and more than 90 percent believing that they can save at least 10 percent by visiting an independent shop.

And, according to the AutoMD survey, this notion that dealerships are more expensive isn’t just a perception. Of respondents who said they comparison-shopped repair job quotes, 87 percent indicated that independent shop quotes were more affordable than dealership quotes.

“We conducted this snapshot survey to provide a window into how today’s car owners feel about their repair shop/dealership service center options, and found that price and relationships are making consumers push the independent trigger — unless their vehicle is under a dealership warranty,” said Brian Hafer, vice president of marketing for Carson, CA-based AutoMD. “But, with so many aging cars now falling outside the warranty, this survey indicates that consumers are going to compare repair quotes and then go where they believe the price is right.”

According to AutoMD, it’s not all bad news for dealerships: 47 percent of those who used dealership service centers said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their experience, with 23 percent feeling neutral. However, of those who were dissatisfied with their dealership experience (30 percent), the belief that they had been overcharged was the No.-1 driver of dissatisfaction. And, of the 33 percent who said that they trust the dealership more than the independent shop for repairs, 60 percent cited the dealership mechanic’s knowledge of and familiarity with their particular model as the reason for their preference.

But it would appear that, of those who go to the dealership for repairs, the vast majority are only doing so because their vehicle is under warranty or recall, as 83 percent indicated that they would not have chosen the dealership if their vehicle hadn’t been under warranty/recall. The top reason? Repairs at the dealership are more expensive than at the independent repair shop (51 percent).

The AutoMD survey was conducted online among more than 3,000 car owners from Nov. 2 to Dec. 12, 2012.

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