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Survey: Car owners most satisfied with independent shops for maintenance

Consumer Reports News: May 16, 2011 08:38 AM

Car owners rate their experience at dealership and independent shops similarly for maintenance, but they were more satisfied with independent shops, according to our latest Annual Survey.

Buick and Lincoln were among the leaders with a score of 93, on a scale from 0 to 100, for dealership service experience, and with 94 and 93 points, respectively, for maintenance at independent shops. Land Rover, Cadillac, Mercury, and BMW followed closely, each with a score rounded to 92 points for the dealership service experience.

Differences of less than three points are not statistically meaningful, and it is worth noting that all brands scored within a narrow window of 87 to 93 points for the dealership. Even the lower scoring brands for dealership service were still pretty good, with Mazda and Mitsubishi at 87 points, followed by Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Volvo, and Scion at 88 points. Satisfaction with independent shops was quite high, with the lowest score being 91 points.

These findings are based on more than 92,000 reports on service visits to independent mechanics and 230,000 service visits to new car dealerships. The overall differences were not as sharp as those observed in the instances of service including repairs. For the makes which we had sufficient data, respondents were more satisfied with service from independent mechanics compared to service from new car dealerships for maintenance-only service. (Read our full report on how automakers rank for repair satisfaction.)

Below, we feature the top 10-ranked brands for dealership service satisfaction.

Make Dealers
Score for dealership shop Price at dealership shop
Lincoln 93
Buick 93
Land Rover 92
Cadillac 92
Mercury 92
BMW 92
GMC 91
Chevrolet 91
Lexus 91
Ford 91


We also explored satisfaction with maintenance at service chains, such as Jiffy Lube and Midas. Overall, there were minimal differences among the individual chains. Although highly satisfied with maintenance at chains, those who went to independent shops and dealerships for maintenance were more satisfied.

See our full report on repair and maintenance satisfaction.

Jeff Bartlett

   

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