5 Things to Consider When Choosing Where to Service Your Vehicle

There’s no feeling like driving off the dealership lot in your new car. The smell of the new interior, the clean features and the feeling of freedom are unparalleled. However, once people drive a car off the lot, fewer than one in three car buyers will be back — at least to the service department. According to Cox Automotive’s 2017 Maintenance and Repair Study, 72% of dealership customers opt for third-party mechanics to service their vehicles.

Whether you stick with the dealer or you opt for a mechanic down the road, you want to make sure you’re getting high-quality service, expert work and quality parts. From price to expertise, you have a lot to consider when choosing where to service your vehicle.

Not all mechanics are specialists

According to NerdWallet, dealerships have the edge when it comes to expertise specific to your vehicle. That’s because the automotive technicians at the dealership have been professionally trained and factory-certified — meaning they’ve learned the ropes directly from your car’s manufacturer. Head to a local mechanic or the corner quick lube and you’re unlikely to find someone who specializes in your make.

“Dealerships are held to a very high standard by themselves as well as their owners and manufacture,” said Jeff Davis, operations director of Volkswagen SouthTowne.

“We train our service advisors and technicians to the high expectations of our manufacture, and each technician is trained directly from the manufacturer as well as our dealership. Our customers know that if they bring their Volkswagen directly to us, we’ll know exactly what to do with it.”

Smart cars require smart service

Today’s cars are becoming smarter and smarter, with innovative features that make vehicles safer, more comfortable and more intuitive than ever before. But these bells and whistles depend on current software for optimal function, so you’ll want to consider that when deciding where to service your car.

“Much like your smartphone, your car needs regular software updates to keep these features running optimally,” said Bo Atkins, service advisor at Volkswagen SouthTowne. “If you take your car to the neighborhood mechanic, they’re not going to have the equipment to update your car’s software. At the dealership, we check for recalls and software updates for every car we service.”

The parts matter

A car is more than the sum of its parts, but those parts really impact the performance of your vehicle. When your repair requires new parts, you’ll want to consider the implications of choosing original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, which come directly from your car’s manufacturer, or aftermarket parts, which are created and distributed by a third party.

According to Edmunds, choosing aftermarket parts can be risky because the quality of these vary greatly and many do not come with a warranty. OEM parts, although typically more expensive, are manufactured for your vehicle and only available through dealerships.

Factory recommendations go beyond replacement parts, however. Authorized dealerships only use oil specifically recommended for your vehicle when you bring it in for a lube change.

The wait can be great

Waiting at a dealership service department doesn’t necessarily mean a longer wait. Repairs, recalls and even regular oil changes can take a while, so it’s important you’re taking your car somewhere that values your comfort and convenience. Dealerships are known for taking more time than third-party mechanics, primarily because of the factory-required inspections they perform. That said, dealerships are also more likely to consider your comfort during a service appointment.

“We have a kids playroom in our new service facility,” said Brad Neilson, service manager for Volkswagen SouthTowne. “We have many TVs in our comfortable service waiting area, free coffee and snacks, plus a shuttle that can take our customers to work or home while we have their car. Plus, for most oil changes, battery changes and filter changes our customers don’t wait more than 30 to 40 minutes. And for extended visits, we offer loaner vehicles.”

Maintenance is a long-term endeavor

When you need a repair, you might be tempted to service your car wherever you get the cheapest quote. But when you consider maintenance and repair as part of your overall investment, you’ll want to consider the long-term implications of where you service your car. For dealership specialists, long-term care is an every-day endeavor.

“We know what customers need now and what they’re going to need in a year and in five years,” said Josh Osborne, general manager for Volkswagen SouthTowne. “Having a long-term relationship with each and every guest is our utmost goal.”

Proper maintenance and skilled repairs extend the life of your vehicle while helping it perform optimally. For more information on purchasing or servicing a Volkswagen, please visit Volkswagen SouthTowne.