CARSON, Calif. — A recent online survey on auto repairs conducted by 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 two of the top reasons consumers prefer independent repair shops, with 80 percent of those surveyed reporting that they felt overcharged for the work performed. Additionally, more than 90 percent of those polled said believe they can save at least 10 percent 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.

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, with 87 percent reporting 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, a marketing executive with "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." 

Survey Highlights

Who do you trust more to repair your car:

An independent repair shop or a dealership?

Independent Repair Shop





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


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


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


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


They offer the best guarantee (parts/labor)




Furthermore, the survey revealed that more than 80 percent of respondents reported they had felt overcharged at the dealership, with 59 percent claiming that they were overcharged by at least $200. Additionally, nearly 20 percent claimed they were overcharged by $500, while 47 percent 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 percent of those who utilize 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 say 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.

The report also showed that 83 percent of respondents would not have chosen the dealership if their vehicle hasn’t been under warranty/recall. The top reason: Repairs at the dealership are more expensive than at the independent repair shop (51 percent).

Additionally, nearly two-thirds of respondents believe they can save more than 20 percent on repairs by choosing an independent repair shop over a dealership, while 72 percent said a savings of just 10 percent would make them opt for the repair shop over the dealership.

“This is not just perception or speculation, it's an educated opinion,” read the report. “Consumers are looking for comparison quotes: 78 percent 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 percent).”