Car service: Choose an official or independent workshop?
Independent workshop or rather official representation? If you have to take your car in for a service, you are faced with a decision, just like when choosing original or equivalent spare parts: official brand representation or an independent partner?
We will tell you where the differences lie and what to look out for in your car.
Official workshops, often referred to as “service partners”, are garages qualified by the car manufacturer and specialised in maintenance and repair work for one or – depending on the size of the garage – several brands of car.
Workshop personnel receive regular training from the manufacturer on the latest models and technologies and have access to accurate maintenance schedules so that it is always clear what work needs to be done on your car. And they have the necessary special tools and diagnostic equipment to be able to work with the highest precision on the vehicles.
Work is always carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations and specifications and original parts are always used – this in no way jeopardises the manufacturer’s warranty.
If, while working on your car, the need for a warranty action or a software update is determined, this will also be dealt with, because an official service partner is directly informed by the manufacturer if such improvements, some of which are safety-related, are pending.
So you are on the safe side as your car is state-of-the-art and always roadworthy.
Independent workshops are an alternative to official service partners. There, too, experts work on cars who can perform the most common work on most brands of car.
As independent workshops do not specialise in a brand, they may not necessarily have the special tools or the expertise for very specific, more complex work on certain brands or models.
In addition, original parts are not always used as replacements (independent garages are therefore more suitable for somewhat older vehicles and simpler work, such as an oil change).
Since independent garages do not have to comply with any guidelines from the vehicle manufacturer with regard to equipment, real estate and equipment, the hourly rates are often somewhat lower than for official brand garages.
And as you are not tied to a particular brand, you will always find a nearby workshop in your area.
Car service at authorised workshop or independent workshop
Garage concepts are basically also usually independent garages that have joined forces to appear under one brand, the concept.
Maybe you have already noticed names like “stop+go”, “GaragePlus”, “Le Garage”, “Autofit” and “CarXpert” when driving through places. These are just these garage concepts (whereby this is only a small selection and others also exist).
Members of these garage concepts often originate from former official brand representations. For example, all “stop+go” workshops were former service partners of a brand such as Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT or ŠKODA – and thus mainly specialised in these vehicles.
Why is this an advantage for you as a customer?
Even if the brand logo no longer hangs above the entrance in these companies, the mechanics are still specialised in these brands and know exactly what to do with your car – even if things get a little more complicated.
Such garage concepts supply the affiliated workshops with spare parts from their trade. The large spare parts dealer Derendinger, for example, supplies all GaragePlus garages or Hostettler supplies the Autofit companies. For these concept garages, you can assume that the quality of the spare parts is usually good.
When choosing the workshop for your service, you are often spoilt for choice. Many garages vie for the favour and orders of their customers.
While the quality and work performance of independent garages can vary greatly in some cases, you normally experience a similarly high quality of workeverywhere due to precisely standardized and uniform specifications of the manufacturer at official agencies.
However, this security and the specialisation of your car brand usually comes at a slightlyhigher price.
But that doesn’t mean that only official workshops do a good job. Independent garages can also carry out most standard work on cars of all brands. And if you’re lucky enough to find an independent garage that used to specialise in your brand or that employs a mechanic with brand experience, you’ll also benefit from this expertise – often at a lower price.
Behind every garage and behind every brand sign there are people who want to do a good job – most of them in any case. The important thing is to find a garage owner you can trust.
Of course we will help you and tell you which garage owners we have had good experiences with.
Carhelper advises you fairly, expertly and independently of garages about what makes the most sense for you and your car – and of course free of charge.