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When it comes to collision repair, there are two main options for car owners: going to the dealership or visiting an independent auto body shop.
It’s a decision that every car owner must make at some point, and it’s not always an easy one. In this full breakdown, we go over Dealerships vs Body Shops on every angle of the repair process.
Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice ultimately comes down to personal preference. Some car owners prefer the convenience and relationship with the dealership, while others opt for the highest quality repair.
Dealership Body Repair Experience
Problems with priority and operations
Believe it or not, if you bring your car to a dealership for body repair, they may not even touch it. Dealerships are more more operationally complex than a standard body shop. They have to focus on sales and delivering on their promised maintenance warranties. It’s a volume game for them.
Not always, but many times the dealership will be backed up and send your car to one of their “partner” shops to handle your repair. They outsource it.
Understandably, dealerships have a lot of pressure to get things done quickly. That’s the game they play. But not all body shops and mechanics need to play that game. Certain top collision centers like LUXE Auto Body will focus on the quality of repair and back it with a lifetime warranty.
Dealerships take their sweet time
Dealerships are highly proficient in standard repair work, but when it comes to bodywork, like that needed after a collision, they tend to focus more on the time it takes to repair a vehicle rather than repairing a vehicle correctly. This is because service fees and repair work are often tied to how long the department calculates it will take to repair a vehicle.
Independent Body Shop Experience
Independent body shops may have more experience
Independent body shop technicians often have the same factory training as dealership technicians and could be more proficient if they’ve been in the industry longer. Working on a range of makes and models at an independent body shop gives these technicians a wider range of experience and technical know-how when it comes to repairing any vehicle.
Body shops can be certified as Collision Centers
Body shops can also be certified as Collision Centers for specific makes and models, meaning they have been independently certified by that automaker for repairs. This is important to note for automakers like Subaru, Honda, Volkswagen, and Tesla that require specialized training and certification to complete some repairs.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Between a Dealership or an Auto Body Repair Shop
- Quality of Repair: Does your dealership look super busy? It’s possible they may try and rush the repair process, leaving you with a tinge of regret. Reputable Body shops on the other hand, when chosen correctly, can do significantly better work.
- Price: Independent auto body repair shops have less costly repair prices than dealerships do. A body repair shop can help vehicle owners save money on costly repairs.
- Experience: With a dealership, technicians work with certain models and car brands while independent auto body shops work on a wide variety of vehicles. A technician from a dealership may have experience with specific cars and knowledge of them, but that doesn’t guarantee that an independent technician knows any less. Most independent auto body repair shops today carry blue seals of excellence and other certifications.
- Parts: Most independent body repair shops have access to parts through several outlets, while dealerships can get parts more easily by directing their attention to certain vehicle makes and models.
Dealerships vs Body Shops: Full Breakdown
|Aspect||Auto Repair Shop||Dealership Auto Repair Shop|
|Customer Satisfaction||Offers more personalized service and builds relationships with customers||Limited interaction with mechanics and may lead to low customer satisfaction due to manufacturer loyalty|
|Equipment Used||May use less expensive, alternative parts or rebuilt parts||Uses original equipment parts required by the manufacturer|
|Labor Costs||Lower labor costs due to less specialized technicians||Higher labor costs due to manufacturer-trained and experienced technicians|
|Location and Facilities||Smaller facilities with lower overhead and costs||Larger facilities with more amenities, such as a waiting room and loaner cars, but with higher costs|
|Overall Cost||Generally cheaper for non-warranty repairs||Cheaper for warranty repairs but generally more expensive for non-warranty repairs|
|Services Provided||Can work on multiple brands but may turn down repairs if not specialized in certain brands||More specialized and can offer better service but with higher costs|
|Type of Insurance Accepted||Does not accept warranties, but insurance may cover repair costs||Offers manufacturer-backed warranties but with higher prices for repairs not covered by warranty|
- Lower labor costs
- More personalized service and builds relationships with customers
- May offer less expensive alternative parts
- May not work on certain brands
- Does not accept warranties
- Smaller facilities with fewer amenities
- Manufacturer-trained and experienced technicians
- Uses original equipment parts required by the manufacturer
- Offers manufacturer-backed warranties for warranty repairs
- Higher labor costs
- Limited interaction with mechanics
- Higher costs due to larger facilities with more amenities
Does a Dealership Actually Do Body Work?
Dealerships will do bodywork on the cars they promote and sell, but they may assign out bodywork if they don’t have the current capacity to complete the work. Dealerships tend to complete repairs quickly, but what they charge for repair work depends on the time involved in repairing the vehicle. Dealerships are trying to make up for losses through service departments, as online competitors have edged them out on work.
Is a Dealership Mechanic Better?
Auto technicians who work for dealerships undergo factory training and work on the makes and model the dealership represents. Dealership technicians are not necessarily better than technicians from auto body repair shops. Many independent technicians have similar factory training but are more in-depth with certifications in various areas.
Independent body shop technicians often have similar training as dealership technicians but are likely to be better at the work if they’ve been in the industry for a longer length of time. Independent body shop technicians work on a whole range of vehicle types and models, so they can advance in their level of experience and technical proficiency in repairing and rebuilding a vehicle. Most body shops hold certifications that enable them to gain expertise, including independent certification from carmakers for repairs.
Overall, the choice between a dealership and an independent body shop for collision repair depends on personal preference. While dealerships have trained technicians and may be more familiar with your specific make and model, independent body shops may have more experience and expertise. It’s important to research and compare options in your area to find the best fit for your needs.