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Car owners are more satisfied with independent shops for maintenance

Consumer Reports News: April 19, 2012 05:53 AM

Car owners were more satisfied with independent shops for maintenance than dealerships, according to the last annual auto survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. The survey found that owners of all makes were equally satisfied with the timeliness and courtesy of the maintenance service at the dealership, where the majority turned for this routine work.

However, Jaguar, Lexus, Acura, Porsche, Infiniti, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz owners were the least satisfied with the price they paid for maintenance service at the dealership.

Satisfaction with maintenance at service chains (e.g., Jiffy Lube, Midas) was also measured. 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.

Independent shops in general had an incremental advantage over dealerships for maintenance in overall score and price. In contrast, independent shops has a more clear advantage in repairs.

The findings on maintenance service are based on more than 81,000 reports on service visits to independent mechanics and 211,000 service visits to new car dealerships.

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

Make Dealers
Reader score (0-100) Price at dealership shop
Buick 93
Lincoln 93
Cadillac 92
GMC 92
Chevrolet 92
Jaguar 91
Mercury 91
Lexus 91
Chrysler 91
BMW 91

Behind the survey. The data was collected from more than 168,000 vehicles that were serviced, including repairs, from the Consumer Reports National Research Center's 2011 Annual Questionnaire. The reader score represents overall satisfaction with the shop used for the repair. A score of 100 would mean all respondents were completely satisfied; 80 means they were very satisfied, on average; 60 means they were fairly satisfied.

See our full report on repair and maintenance satisfaction. offers a car repair information service that can help drivers understand common problems, learn how components work, and receive a service estimate that reflects local prices. This special section for online subscribers includes a Car Repair Estimator and a Car Repair Encyclopedia, which can answer many common questions.

Jeff Bartlett

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