Buying Parts From a Private Garage vs a Car Dealership

There is a great misconception that when your car goes in for repairs, or you need car parts, you have to go to the auto-body your car insurance provider has recommended for you. In actual fact, it is just that, a recommendation.

An even greater misconception is that if you don’t go with a dealership, your motor warranty will be voided. This simply isn’t true.

carpool week

Your warranty is based on the autobody shop you choose and the written guarantee they provide – not your insurance provider. It is then up to the autobody shop to provide the repair work and the lifetime of that repair work as stated in their written guarantee. Some autobody shops will warrant their work for the lifespan of the car.

Bob Failmezger worked for a dealership for 15 years before starting his own shop, 16 years ago. He gave his advice on whether to get car parts at a dealership or private garage and what you could expect.

“It is true that a dealership can be a better place to repair vehicles with very odd electrical problems, as they have access to factory support, or very new model cars. For the most part though, an independent shop with a good reputation is a better value for money for common repairs.”

Here’s How to Decide on Car Parts From a Private or Commercial Autobody

The Main Differences Between Dealerships and Private Garages

Labour costs Vary Vary
Overheads More expensive Less expensive
Staff Well-trained Sufficiently-trained
Acceptance of work Always Only if profitable
Parts Factory / Brand All parts

The Concept of ‘Pirate Parts’

Another misconception is that car parts that do not come from dealerships are ‘pirated’. The truth is that there is a an actual difference between pirated parts, which cost a tenth of the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) price, and ‘aftermarket’ part prices.

car parts

The aftermarket is a secondary market of the automotive industry and is involved in the manufacturing, re-manufacturing, distribution, retailing and installing of vehicle parts, chemicals, equipment and accessories.

Aftermarket or replacement parts are not necessarily inferior quality, they are just more affordable than OEM parts (not read: cheap).

Pros of Aftermarket Parts

Again, it must be stressed that even though an aftermarket part costs less, it can work just as well, if not better than a OEM part. The reason for the lower price is that with more variety in the market, comes a greater range in prices for the consumer to choose from.

It is imperative to do your research to get an idea of what the normal price of a part is.

Experts recommend sticking with aftermarket car part brands that you know of as well as listening to trusted mechanics who have tried and tested a variety of aftermarket parts.

Cons of Aftermarket Parts

With aftermarket parts, there is an overwhelming selection of car parts so you may feel confused with which brand to trust. You may even end up throwing in the towel and forking out for an OEM part – which is usually 10 – 20% more expensive.

Due to the competitiveness of the aftermarket industry, some products may come without a warranty to keep prices down. It is highly advised to avoid these products.

OEM Parts vs Warranted Aftermarket Parts

Despite high labour costs at dealerships, the cost difference between an OEM part and an aftermarket part won’t be more than 20%.

car parts

Why? Most vehicle repairs or replacements aren’t exactly time-consuming, taking only a few hours of labour. The main cost is the actual car part. Private garages also, naturally, have a much smaller team and less overheads.

The ‘Flat-Rate’ Labour Scheme

Most auto-dealerships pay their mechanics almost exclusively, a ‘flat-rate’ wage. This means they are compensated for the amount of time they actually work and per job at a ‘flat rate’.

Each vehicle repair has a specific repair process and set time in order to reach completion. A good flat-rate technician can easily put in 60 flat-rate hours in a 40-hour week. This becomes problematic when workers sacrifice quality for quantity and provide sloppy work.

A flat-rate wage system can also sometimes mean a customer is overcharged in relation to reality.  

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So why do car insurance providers recommend an autobody?

Most insurance companies have contracts with body shops in your area and will have negotiated a discount on parts, labour and material costs.

Through this contract, they also know that the autobody will have to use parts that have a lifetime guarantee.

Insurance company claims representatives also have set goals and targets they need to reach. For this reason, they may try to sway you by saying that your chosen repair shop is not on their list of accredited repair shops and that they won’t be able to handle your claim as efficiently.

Reputable body repair shops mostly all offer lifetime guarantees on all their products but it is wise to check this before you hand over the keys.

Three Ways to Avoid Car Repairs

1. Read the Owner’s Manual

car parts

Be sure to read up on the following in your car’s owner manual:

  • Type of oil needed
  • Correct tyre pressure
  • Proper maintenance intervals
  • The maximum load your car can carry

2. Read Your Car Manual’s Warranty Section

car parts

Following these directions will allow you the full warranty duration provided. Follow the warranty requirements even after the warranty has expired to ensure good maintenance.

3. Change Your Car Oil Regularly

car parts

One of the quickest ways to ruin your car engine is to not change the oil or let the oil run too low. It can often be confusing when and if you should check or change your car oil.

Your oil should be changed every 5000 to 10 000 kilometres – and more frequently if you do a lot of driving in cities, a dusty environment or if you transport heavy loads or use a trailer.

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Insurance Guru

Insurance Guru is here to help you simplify the complicated world of insurance, so you can make smart insurance decisions and get the best insurance deals for your situation.

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