For many people the economy isn’t getting any better, they are finding that money is tight and the future isn’t looking all that secure. So when it is time to service the car there are two primary questions;
a) Can I afford to get it serviced at all?
b) If I can, do I go to the relevant franchised dealer or the local independent garage?
In considering question a) there are a number of simple yes or no questions to take into account;
i. Am I fully confident that my brakes are going to remain fully efficient for the next 12 months?
ii. Am I fully confident that my engine isn’t likely to overheat and blow up/burn out over the next 12 months?
iii. Am I fully confident that my tyres are going to stick to the road and thus take me in the direction I steer in for the next 12 months?
iv. Am I fully confident that my car is roadworthy and therefore isn’t going to land me in jail or a coffin in the next 12 months?
v. Am I happy that without a service history my car is worth less than if it had a full service history?
If you can answer “yes” to every one of these questions ( and “fully confident” doesn’t just mean “I’ve got my fingers crossed”) then, if you really are hard up you may forego a service.
Now let’s assume that though money is tight you are going to get the car serviced for all the sensible reasons of safety and longer term economy and just concentrate on the ‘where’.
The franchised dealership is theoretically more aware of, and committed to, the concept of customer service than the local independent, but paradoxically you are less likely to be dealing directly with someone in authority.
Franchised dealerships usually insist that their staff are technically qualified and provide ongoing training for their staff at all levels. Local independents seldom do but they are small businesses and therefore tend to have a greater reliance on the competence of each staff member.
The local independent is less likely to hold a stock of relevant parts than the franchised dealership but they are more likely to use pattern parts than manufacturers’ brands which are therefore less expensive.
The franchised dealership is more likely to have a comfortable waiting area should you need to wait for your car and they are more likely to have a courtesy vehicle available should you need one, but if you don’t need either of these you are going to be paying for them within the overhead charges of the dealership.
The franchised dealership is more likely than an independent to post a ‘menu’ of fixed charges, so you are more likely to know what the overall cost will be before you commit, which may save embarrassment or argument after the work is done and the bill is presented.
So the short answer to the question ‘Franchised dealership or independent garage?’ is that it depends on your wants, the local independent garages and the local franchised dealerships. When you find a place that suits you….stick with it!