Independent or Dealership? What Is Your Best Auto Service Bet?

Auto repair shops are no one’s first-pick as a go-to destination. Still, your car is one of your biggest investments. To protect it and keep it running right, you’ve got to bring it into the shop from time to time.

Because it’s more of a must than a want-to, it’s very important to make sure you pick a service provider that is a quality, cost, and time-efficient choice. So, what is your best bet? An independent auto shop or a dealership?

Consumer Report’s latest repair satisfaction survey showed that you’re likely to end up more satisfied with an independent repair shop than with a new car dealership.

Independent or Dealership

Independent shops outscored dealerships on overall satisfaction, price, quality, customer service, and the work getting done when promised. Only the electric carmaker, Tesla, earned the same marks as independent shops

Tesla, though, has a relatively small number of loyal customers, compared to other sellers of new cars. To be fair, dealership customers reported being satisfied with mechanics at franchised dealerships for overall repairs. Not as satisfied, but satisfied.

Some Key Differences

But, there is a huge discrepancy between independent shops and dealerships in terms of cost. This was true across the board, but particularly true for premium brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, and Mini.

This is because of extra overhead costs at dealerships which have larger facilities with higher salaries and many more employees. This not only drives up prices but can also drive up the motivation to upsell you on parts and services that you may not need. Though recommended services are often advisable, due to budget concerns, many customers need to trust their independent shops to tell them what repairs and services are needed now and what can wait.

Other Benefits

An independent shop can also give you better customer service because, at a dealership, you will only speak to a service advisor. This person isn’t usually a mechanic. At an independent shop, you can usually speak directly to the mechanics. These trained technicians are directly responsible for your car and how well it is repaired and serviced. Great independent shops tend to work harder for your business—they know there are a dozen shops nearby that an unsatisfied customer can take their vehicle to. A dealership may be the only one in the region.

Hmm. Way better prices. Better customer service. As good as, or better, quality. Sounds like a great independent auto shop like Certified Automotive—honored as the top auto care shop in America—might just become a vacation hot spot. Okay, that is probably one or two steps too far. But, when you need to protect your automotive investment, schedule an appointment online with us or call 253-854-6762 today!

Does Your Car Have Trouble Getting Out of Bed in the Morning?

Do you ever have mornings when you’re sluggish and downright unhappy to start the day? We all have mornings like that, for sure. We can sip some coffee or promise ourselves to get more rest the next night. But your car is different. If it seems more ready to hit the snooze button than the road, you might want to have us take a look at it.

What Does the O2 sensor Do?

The engine control computer needs precise data about exhaust gasses to gauge fuel metering, delivery and timing. O2 sensors detect and offset changing levels of altitude, air temperature, engine temperature, barometric pressure, and engine load. One or more O2 sensors are mounted in the exhaust stream. Often one is placed near the exhaust manifold and another is farther down the system, beyond the catalytic converter.

Newer vehicles even have a heated element for the sensor to make up for when it’s cold outside!

After a while, O2 sensors tend to get mucked up with carbon and deposits of soot. Leaked silicone from lubricants or grease and oil from coolant can also leak into the exhaust system and cause trouble. When this happens, you get lower gas mileage, loss of power, black tailpipe smoke, rough idling, hesitation, stalling or poor starting. Unfortunately, if you don’t address these symptoms, you can damage the catalytic converter and other components. This might mean an expensive repair sooner, rather than later. 

Older sensors tended to last 30,00-50,00 miles, though newer ones can up to 100,000 miles before replacing them. Replacement is not a difficult job, though on some cars the sensor can be difficult to access and may require removing other parts. Occasionally, they have gone through so many heat-up/cool-down cycles that the threads seize, making removal more difficult.  

This is where you need a true professional! You can count on us for all of your automotive needs! We have been recognized four times in the last ten years by industry leader Motor Age as one of the top ten auto repair shops in the nation. In 2012, we were honored as the absolute best automotive repair shop in all of America!

Get out of Bed, Sleepyhead!

When you and your car are feeling sloth-like in the morning, have a cup of joe and call us at 253-854-6762 or set up your appointment online. Getting to bed earlier is on you. But we can make sure your car is ready to rise and shine every time you need it to!

Are Car Repairs Tax Deductible?

Are Car Repairs Tax Deductible?Do you use your car for business? Not commuting to work, but to actually perform business functions, such as deliveries or service calls? Then you’re probably already aware that you can deduct your typical vehicle expenses when you do your taxes. You may be wondering if there’s a car repair credit or deduction as well, however.

How Can You Deduct Car Repairs?

Even if you only use your vehicle for business part-time, you may still be able to find some savings during tax season. In order to figure out whether your vehicle is eligible for tax credit, you should ask yourself the following three questions:

  • Would my car be considered a business vehicle?
  • Which deduction method will I be using?
  • What are deductible repairs?

When we ask whether or not a car is a business vehicle, we’re only considering cars, trucks, and SUVs that are used for business. Equipment vehicles like fork lifts or “cars for hire” like taxis are not eligible. It’s also important to note that you can’t subsidize a “luxury” car used for business. Make a note of who, or what, officially owns the vehicle – employee, business, or business owner?

Next, you should understand the difference in deduction methods. Many people who use cars for business use the “standard mileage rate” for deductions (53.5 cents per mile in 2017), which is considered to include general wear and tear on the vehicle, including repairs. If you want to deduct repairs specifically, then you need to keep records of all individual expenses incurred for the vehicle while it was in business use, usually as an itemized list.

Which brings us to the next important factor: if you use your car for business, then keep good records! You can’t just guess when tax season comes around. You need the actual miles and/or expenses. You can actually buy a “vehicle expense log” that’s made exactly for this purpose. Keep it in your glove compartment and get into the habit of recording everything! This will also help you determine whether you’ll get a better deduction by using the standard mileage rate or filing individual expenses.

If you choose the standard mileage rate, then the only other deductions you can make are on registration fees and taxes, loan interest, and tolls or parking fees. When you keep an itemized list of actual vehicle expenses, however, you can also include gas and oil, licenses, tires, depreciation, insurance, maintenance and repairs, and a few other odds and ends.

Record everything if you’d like to deduct your car repairs during the next tax season. If you use your car for business, your repairs should be deductible as long as you file your actual car expenses. You can’t deduct repairs if you use standard mileage rate, so keep that in mind. If you have other questions, feel free to ask us here in the shop – we’re very familiar with the process!

We Are Open To Serve You.  Please Call 626.541.2149 For Service.

We Will Pick Up and Deliver Your Vehicle For Service At No Additional Charge Upon Request.