If you want to keep your vehicle running smoothly and for a long time to come, there is no secret: auto maintenance. Auto maintenance and repairs represent more than 40% of the total cost of a car over the course of its service life. This has a huge impact on the annual cost of owning a car… But there are easy ways to reduce this cost! How do you choose where to have your car serviced? Which name-brand garage should you trust? What is the best way to compare the many providers that offer maintenance and service packages? We’ll tell you everything you need to know to cut down on auto maintenance costs without compromising on quality.
Where should you have your car serviced?
There are 3 kinds of networks where you can have your car serviced:
1- The manufacturer network: car dealerships
Here is where you’ll get specialized service, but prices are unfortunately still quite high. Note: unlike a few years ago, you are no longer obliged to bring your car to the manufacturer network for maintenance, even during the manufacturer’s warranty.
The average price of maintenance with them is still 20-40% more expensive than that of auto service centers and repair shops, especially because of the high cost of spare parts. A little ridiculous when you consider that they buy these parts in bulk quantities from the manufacturer, so they should be a lot cheaper.
Regardless, the dealerships are able to perform any type of maintenance or repairs on their vehicles, which is useful for vehicles with advanced technologies.
The Pros: the quality of service, the specialized knowledge of the vehicle at a technological level
The Cons: prices are often more expensive than elsewhere
2 – Independent garages
– Service centers
These centers perform all routine maintenance without an appointment, like simple repairs, but also sell spare parts and car accessories in a store. In general, they are 20-30% less expensive than the manufacturers. On the other hand, unlike the dealerships, they do not always have all the latest information on new vehicles, especially updated vehicle data.
The Pros: affordable, often the least expensive
The Cons: service level depends on the location, and staff not always as qualified as at a dealership
independent repair shops have the advantage of having broad knowledge of multiple brands: they can perform simple or complex maintenance and repairs on all types of vehicles, for much less than the manufacturer network, especially for routine maintenance like an oil change. Furthermore, giving them business is the best way to stimulate the local economy! This is a good option for people who need advice because the mechanic knows the customer and the vehicle.
The Pros: the quality of the service and the personal relationship and careful, diligent work
The Cons: the quality of the service can vary and costs are not very transparent
Furthermore, there are fewer and fewer independent garages (which are often the least expensive) because vehicle’s are becoming too technologically sophisticated for them to keep up with. Consequently, many of them have now joined independent networks or manufacturer-certified networks.
Where should I go to service my car?
If you can, avoid the city center where rates will be inevitably higher. Driving just a few miles outside the urban center, into sparsely inhabited rural areas, can save you several euros!
Spare parts: prices vary!
You can now get parts that are the “same quality” as the manufacturer parts, but for much cheaper than the latter and that will not put jeopardize the manufacturer’s warranty. Furthermore, you don’t have to immediately replace parts that need to be changed. You can take your time to find the least expensive parts (or even buy used parts if your budget is limited) before replacing them. Or, if you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, you can change them yourself!
Compare and save!
This is the best advice we can give you: compare the different offers! Ask for detailed quotes to compare many different services and their rates (be careful with service packages that seem extensive but do not necessarily meet the needs of your vehicle, for example). You can do this by directly calling the dealership or repair shop, or it is even easier to run a simulation on auto center websites such as Speedy or Midas or fill out an online form.
A small recap of important criteria to take into account:
– the value for money ratio
– the difference in prices
– the services
– the price of spare parts
– the advice (sales)
Do not wait until the last minute to get your car serviced! Planning ahead will give you more options. Routine maintenance will save you over the long-run (less breakage, longer vehicle lifespan, less fuel consumption, etc.) and keep you safer. So do not neglect it!