The decision about where to take your vehicle for repairs is just as difficult today as it was 6 years ago when we last examined the problems that are related to auto repair. Some consumers in the past 2 years have had to look for new repair shops, because the shop to which they always took their vehicle closed or the dealership from which they bought the vehicle that they drive went out of business.
A survey by Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) indicates that going to an independent shop saves consumers about 34 percent on average for a range of repairs. (See “Repair Comparison.”) Despite the difference that you’ll pay for repairs, the parts that are installed by independent shops often are made by the same original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as are the parts that are installed by dealer service shops, says economist John Dunham, who oversaw the AAIA survey. The only difference is that the dealer’s parts have an official OEM label. AAIA found that the parts that are installed by dealers typically cost 27 percent more than the parts that are installed by independent shops (often referred to as aftermarket parts). Automakers and dealers whom we interviewed don’t dispute that aftermarket parts in many cases work just as well as or better than OEM parts.