Advantages of Servicing Your Vehicle with a Dealership Service Center

Dealership Service Center

Inevitably, car owners are going to need to have their vehicle serviced sooner or later. When that time comes, they are faced with the decision of where to have the necessary service done – at the dealership service center where the vehicle was purchased or at a local repair shop. There are several pros and cons to both, but for the purposes of this blog post, we’re going to focus on the work performed by the dealership.

One of the biggest advantages of servicing a vehicle at the dealership begins right in the service bays. Dealerships employ technicians that are considered specialists in working on a particular line of vehicles. They are manufacturer-trained and, in most cases, only work on the make of vehicles that are sold through that particular dealership.

The specialist training is often only offered to a manufacturer’s network of dealerships, and encompasses not only the service technicians, but service managers, advisors and support staff as well. This means that the men and women working on the vehicles have intimate knowledge of how these vehicles are supposed to perform and how/when to make necessary repairs.

That knowledge is extremely valuable to dealerships, and it does not come cheap. Dealers typically offer higher salaries or other incentives in order to recruit and retain these specialized personnel, which in turn can increase labor rates. Despite the higher labor cost, drivers really do get what they pay for in terms of know-how, accuracy, and service.

Another advantage is the relationship that is built with the dealership. By having a vehicle serviced regularly at the dealership, they have an accurate and up-to-date picture of the road and service history of that vehicle. They are better equipped to understand what is going on with each individual vehicle because they have all prior service records right at their fingertips.

While shopping around for the best deal at local repair shops might save time and money in the short-term, drivers may run into issues such as being presented with conflicting recommendations, inaccurate diagnostic information, and inexact service timeframes in the long run due to a lack of consistent recordkeeping.

While having work done at a local repair shop may be more convenient, the fact is that  dealership service departments honor manufacturer and extended warranty coverage free of charge to their customers. This is a major plus to the customer in many ways, the least of which is to the wallet! Repair shops usually charge a deductible and/or for labor for warranty repairs and often have to order parts which are not usually kept on-hand – which could also lead to additional shipping charges passed on to the consumer by the repair shop. At a dealership, most parts needed to make repairs to the line of vehicles they sell are readily available, thus requiring less time for repairs to be made.

Many of the warranty advantages are contingent on the vehicle breaking down within easy access to the dealerships, so if a problem were to occur further away from home, drivers may be in the situation where they have no choice but to use a local repair shop regardless of warranty coverage.

Finally, dealerships also offer their customers OE (original equipment) parts for repairs to their vehicles. This is advantageous for those repairs that fall under warranty, but can cost customers more if they are not covered. Also, many dealership service centers will not install or service after-market products that are outside of the factory standard for that particular vehicle, leaving a local or specialty repair shop the only option for those owners.

These advantages highlight some of the areas where using a dealership service center benefits car owners. Have you always used the service center at the dealership where you purchased your vehicle? Have some past experience, positive or negative, about dealing with a dealership service center? Let us know in the comments section below. We value your input!

10 Safety Tips For Your Holiday Shopping Season

holiday safety tips

During this busy holiday season, folks everywhere are making their lists and checking them twice. Many of us will be shopping and making purchases right up until the very last minute! With so much going on and so much to do, it’s easy to get distracted and forget about holiday shopping safety precautions. So we’ve rounded up some tips to make sure that you’re prepared before you head out to conquer your shopping to-do’s and stay safe in the process.

Before you hit the road:

1. Prepare your vehicle.

The holidays mean the possibility of inclement weather. Whether it’s rain, sleet, snow, ice, or a “wintry mix,” you may have to brave the elements during your pursuit of the perfect holiday gift. Make sure that your car is winterized with properly inflated and aligned tires, snow tires (if needed), a working heating system to keep you and your family warm and to defog your windows, effective windshield wiper blades, and working headlights. If any of these vehicle maintenance areas need to be addressed, be sure to schedule service with your local dealership. Also, if you’re driving for any lengthy amount of time, better to be safe than sorry—fill up that gas tank!

2. Leverage your car’s technology.

Even though many of us have a smartphone to rely on for directions or to find a new route in the event of construction or a traffic detour, many states, including Maryland, are cracking down even more on the use of cell phones while driving. Luckily, many cars these days—including the Acura and Nissan car models—offer technology packages that help with navigation, checking traffic delays, and even managing incoming calls and texts. Too often, car drivers don’t leverage the convenience of these technologies simply because they have not become familiar with them. We encourage you to take the time to do so! The last thing you should be doing is fumbling with controls while driving and possibly cause yourself the danger and inconvenience of an accident—yikes!

If you have questions about your car’s technology, the dealership that sold you your car should be able to help you. In fact, at Tischer, we host new car owner clinics every third Wednesday of the month to help our customers not only learn about their car’s capabilities, but also to familiarize them with the variety of services and departments available at our dealership.

3. Have an emergency stash.

If for any reason while out and about during your holiday shopping you should become stranded, it’s wise to have some sort of car “emergency” kit stocked with water, a blanket, and other essentials.  This includes having a small medical emergency kit that is compact and which is relatively inexpensive.  For a detailed list of handy items to keep in your car, check out this blog post we wrote earlier:  “Essential Emergency Items for Every Vehicle.” 

While out and about:

4. Slow down.

We know stores get crowded, parking lots get full, and there are amazing deals to take advantage of. Everyone wants to be the “early bird.”  We know you’ll agree that no one should risk his/her life or the lives of others in order to get to a sale, no matter how good it may be!  So please, heed speed limits, use your turn signals, share the road, and especially if there is inclement weather, slow down!

5. Don’t leave the car running.

We’re all guilty of it—just making a quick pit stop on the way to another destination and popping out of the car while leaving the car running. At this time of year, don’t risk employing this lazy way of doing things. Loiterers may be lurking hoping to catch someone with gifts and goodies in their car from a recent shopping spree, while others might be hoping to grab a quick stash of money that’s recently been withdrawn in advance of a shopping spree.  Simply put—there could be people up to no good waiting to take advantage of others who are in a hurry during the holiday frenzy.  Not to mention the laws against leaving an idling car in a parking lot of any store!

6. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

That last point brings us to our next tip.  As you arrive at your shopping destination, take an account of the area. Choose a parking spot in a well-lit area. Is there a landmark that will help you remember where you parked your car? Be wary of any areas that are convenient for people to lurk and avoid those “shady” spots. In the event of suspicious activity or an emergency, is there a nearby emergency call-box? Take five minutes to observe your environment before you hit the ground running.  Of course, be aware of the parking lot environment when you are departing also by trying to save that text or phone call until you are in your car and using the technology your car provides in order to do that safely.  After you get into the car, lock it immediately.

7. Protect your personal items.

While you are shopping, be mindful of your personal items; in other words—don’t flash your cash!  Keep your cash and credit cards concealed as often as possible.  Gentlemen, this might mean for one day not keeping that wallet in your back pocket, but rather, tucked inside an interior “secret” coat pocket—or anywhere else that might be a little less obvious. Ladies, don’t leave your purses in your shopping carts. Keep them on your person at all times. And this next part goes for everyone—any purchases you do make, keep them tucked safely but securely in your cart or with a firm grip. The holiday season is a thief’s paradise; don’t make it easier for them by having things so available!

8. Avoid distractions.

Depending on how much shopping you are doing, you might be making several trips to your car to unload some of your purchases. As you are going back and forth, avoid any behaviors that could distract you from noticing possibly threatening situations such as walking in front of another car (we all know people drive fast and carelessly in parking lots!) or being approached by a stranger. So don’t fumble for your car keys and look down into your pockets or purse—have your keys ready before you exit the building.  As mentioned above, avoid talking or texting on your cell phone. Having one hand up to your face has a tendency to block your peripheral vision and having both hands on your cell phone texting forces you to look down and away from your surroundings. If you must converse, use a hands-free device like a Bluetooth earpiece.  Once again, do not sit in your vehicle on the phone or counting money (or any other distracting activity) without locking your doors!

9. Conceal your purchases smartly.

If you are leaving your purchases in your vehicle, be sure that they are tucked out of sight and properly concealed. If you have tinted windows, stow your items in the darkest area of your car. Small items can be stowed away under seats or perhaps even in a glove department or a locking console area. As silly as it may sound, you can even swap your purchases into less obvious carriers such as a grocery tote bag or a gym bag. After all, who thinks a lovely piece of jewelry would be tucked away where you keep smelly gym socks? And if the gym bag trick isn’t enough of a deterrent, always be sure to lock your car and arm your car alarm.

10. The more the merrier.

As the saying goes, there’s strength in numbers. Any time you can be out and about with a group of people rather than flying solo is better for safety purposes. Two heads are better than one, you’ll have that “second set” of eyes—you know how it goes.  After all, the holidays are meant to be spent with family and friends!

There’s a lot to look forward to during the holidays, and that’s why we hope the advice we’ve shared with you will not only help to make your holiday shopping safer, but smarter. What other advice would you offer your fellow readers? Be sure to share your holiday safety tips in the comments below!

From all of us at Tischer Auto, we hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday season!

Advantages of Servicing Your Vehicle with Your Local Repair Shop

local repair shop

In our last post, we talked about the advantages of servicing your vehicle at the dealership service center. In this post we’re going to cover the flip side of the coin – servicing with your local repair shop. Just as there were advantages to working with the dealership where you bought the vehicle, there are also advantages to shopping around or working with a local repair shop that you know and trust. One of the biggest advantages of servicing your vehicle with a local repair shop is that a level of trust may already exist!

Chances are, the vehicle in need of service is not your first and over the course of your vehicle ownership history, you probably have had to seek service that was outside of a dealership. If you already have a mechanic that you know and trust, it may be to your advantage to continue have your vehicle serviced at that shop. Aside from the obvious factors of knowing you can accept their diagnostics and evaluations, there is also the possibility of loyalty discount programs offered by repair shop. With the economy being what it is, more and more local business are rewarding repeat and loyal customers who continue to solicit their services.

Along those same lines, more and more business are turning to Groupon, LivingSocial and other retail-incentive websites to attract customers to them and, as a customer (loyal or otherwise) you can also take advantage of those deals. Most dealerships are not in the habit of discounting their services to the general public.

Another advantage of local repairs shops is the “local” part. Repair shops are often more conveniently located than dealerships. There may be dozens of small shops to choose from between your home and the dealership. If the repair or service that you need isn’t major, it’s a lot more convenient to drive a short way to your neighborhood repair shop than it is to go to the dealership, especially if you need to leave your car for repairs.

Plus, if your vehicle does need repair, there is a good chance that you will have a variety of parts options to choose from, whereas dealerships only offer customers original equipment parts for repairs. In most cases parts will have to be ordered, so the local repair shop fulfillment department spends extra time looking around for the best price and most practical parts to cover the repair.

For performance-oriented car owners looking to do aftermarket work to their vehicles, local repair shops provide a unique advantage in that some of them will modify your vehicle to your specifications and install parts that you purchased on your own. Most dealerships will not risk installing aftermarket products that are not backed by the manufacturer, simply because they need to cover themselves in case of potential damage or injury as a result of installing the aftermarket part.

Finally, labor costs for local repair shops tend to run on the cheaper side since most mechanics at dealerships have had specialized training. That specialized training is provided by the manufacturer and is often very expensive and that expense is usually passed on to the consumers in the cost of labor. In fact, it could run you $15-$20 per hour more than at a local shop.

Well, there you have it – we’ve given you both sides of the coin in regard to servicing your vehicle. The choice is really up to you, as the vehicle owner, how and where you have the vehicle serviced.

Have you used the same mechanic for all of your vehicle repairs? Have some past experience, positive or negative, about dealing with a local repair shop? Let us know in the comments section below. We love to hear your feedback!

*image: Somar International Ltd. on Flickr.com