Whenever I hear someone bitching about their vehicle breaking down and how the dealer is quoting them an expensive repair, I cringe. Look there is nothing wrong with taking your vehicle to be serviced at your local dealer, but don’t expect it to be economical. With that said, also don’t expect a personal touch, such as the mechanic having you walk around the shop and show you exactly what they are talking about. It’s just not going to happen at a commercial dealership.
With that said, you do have an alternative; find a local mechanic and support them. Seriously, there are a ton of mechanics out there that could not only use your business but they are also exactly what you are looking for. I’ve found on average, a local mechanic will charge half the rate of the local dealer. From a cost standpoint alone, this is obviously worth the while.
If you do have a vehicle that is specialized or even somewhat specialized, I’m looking at you VW, Mercedes, BMW, etc, you’ll definitely want to find a local mechanic you can trust. Those brands charge an arm and a leg, and once the warranty is done a diagnosis on a vehicle could be hefty. A knowledgeable local mechanic will also help you maintain that vehicle better than simply following “dealer recommendations” or even manufacturer recommendations that only go to a certain mileage.
Just make sure you do your homework before getting your vehicle in. The internet is your friend, research the shop online and see what customers are saying. Don’t be shy, ask around and see if you can get feedback. Word of mouth is the best form of advertisement for a business but it’s also the best way to find a reputable business. Finally, join your brands local car club and see if they have any recommendations as most do.