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Consumers Trust Independent Shops Over Dealerships for Car Repairs: Pricing is Key Issue, According to New Survey

AutoMD.com survey reveals consumers who shop for quotes report lower estimates at independent repair shops; four in five would not have chosen the dealership for repairs if vehicle was not under warranty/recall

CARSON, Calif., Jan. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A recent online survey on auto repair conducted by AutoMD.com* showed that while consumers are generally satisfied with their dealership experience, they trust independent repair shops over dealerships for auto repairs by two to one. Better prices and mechanic relationships are the keys for independent repair shop preference, with 80% surveyed reporting they felt they had been overcharged for a repair at a dealership, and over 90% believing they can save at least 10% by visiting an independent shop. Meanwhile, most report choosing the dealership service center instead of an independent repair shop because their vehicle was under warranty/recall. 

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130123/LA46699)

But is this notion that dealerships are more expensive just a perception? Not according to the majority of respondents who say they have actually comparison-shopped repair job quotes: a whopping 87% reported that independent shop quotes were more affordable than dealership quotes.

"It is no secret that consumers are holding onto their vehicles for record lengths of time, meaning more and more visits to the repair shop or dealer service center," said Brian Hafer, VP of Marketing for AutoMD.com. "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. 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." 

Survey Highlights

Car Owners Trust Independent Repair Shops More/Over-charging Perception Undermines Dealership Satisfaction

Sixty-seven percent of respondents said that they trust an independent repair shop more than a dealership to repair their vehicle. 

Who do you trust more to repair your car:

An independent repair shop or a dealership?

Independent Repair Shop

67%

Dealership

33%

When asked why they preferred the independent repair shop, the top two reasons were: 1) a relationship with their local mechanic (40%) and 2) better pricing (at nearly 30%).

Why do you trust an independent repair shop more than a dealership?

I have a relationship with my local mechanic; I always take my car there

40%

I know I'll get a better price for repairs at an independent repair shop

29%

Even though I could have them install more expensive automaker parts, they don't dictate that I have to use them

9%

Their mechanics are knowledgeable; they fix all types of vehicle brands and I trust that they can fix mine

8%

They offer the best guarantee (parts/labor)

2%

Other

12%

Furthermore, the survey revealed that over 80% of respondents reported they had felt overcharged at the dealership, with 59% claiming that the overcharge was at least $200 and nearly 20% claiming over $500. Plus 47% said paying a premium or paying for unnecessary repairs / service is the worst part of the dealership experience.

But it is not all bad news for dealerships: 47% of those who utilize dealership service centers said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their experience, with 23% feeling neutral. However, of those who were dissatisfied with their dealership experience (30%), the belief that they had been overcharged was the number one driver of dissatisfaction. And of the 33% who say they trust the dealership more than the independent shop for repairs, 60% cited the dealership mechanic's knowledge of and familiarity with their particular model as the reason for their preference.

Dealership Visits Driven by Warranties/Recalls

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: 83% report 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%).

Car Owners Believe They Can Save at Independent Repair Shops - and Price Quotes Prove Them Right

Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe they can save over 20% on repairs by choosing an independent repair shop over a dealership, and 72% say a savings of just 10% would make them opt for the repair shop over the dealership.

This is not just perception or speculation, it's an educated opinion. Consumers are looking for comparison quotes: 78% say they have compared repair job quotes between the dealership and independent repair shop. The results overwhelmingly show that independent repair shop quotes are more affordable (87%).

Savings appears to be a key driver of consumers being proactive in getting repair quotes: 78% said that if they knew it would save them 10% or more, they would compare repair job price quotes.

*The AutoMD.com survey was conducted online among over 3,000 car owners from November 2December 12, 2012.

About AutoMD.com
AutoMD.com™ (www.automd.com), a wholly-owned subsidiary of US Auto Parts Network, Inc., (Nasdaq: PRTS), is the most comprehensive and unbiased free online automotive repair resource designed to empower car owners with the best way to repair their vehicles. Backed by a team of automotive data specialists and certified auto mechanics who are advocates for the car owner, AutoMD.com allows both car owners and DIYers to 1. Troubleshoot car problems, 2. Know how much auto repairs should cost, 3. Understand the steps needed and the time it should take with How-to Auto Repair guides, 4. Find the right local auto repair shop at the right price for their issue, and 5. Get auto repair questions answered by the AutoMD.com community. AutoMD.com was named Best Automotive Website in the 8th annual American Business Awards, also known as the Stevie® Awards. AutoMD Mobile is available for the iPhone at iTunes.

Contact:
Media Relations
Crystal Hartwell, mWEBB Communications, (714) 987-1016, [email protected]

SOURCE AutoMD.com

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