Tuesday

Proof Car Dealers Over Charge

Want to save yourself $300? Of course. There's an easy way to do it. Just stay away from car dealers.

That's the conclusion of AutoMD.com. By avoiding car dealership repair shops for non-warranty repair work and taking your business to independent repair shops, the average consumer can save themselves $300 a year according to a new study just out from AutoMD.

AutoMD crunched the numbers they got from the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Federal Highway Administration and the Aftermarket Industry Association (the trade group representing parts makers and independent repair shops). When they got done, they found that car owners who went to dealers for repairs spend an average of $1,209 a year while those who don't only spend $903.

Notably, routine maintenance charges are the ones where the biggest difference can be, along with higher labor charges for their mechanics too. And don't believe it if a dealer tells you that you have to come back to them for your maintenance because your warranty requires it. In fact, federal law says they can't make you have your maintenance done there just to keep your warranty in effect.

Of course some things require returning to the dealer, like warranty work or recall work. And sometimes the computer hookups that the dealer has available can not be duplicated by independent repair shops who aren't willing to spend the high investment cost to buy some of the more "exotic" equipment needed for diagnosis of newer cars. CarMD can show you how to find the connecting point for your car's computer too, but you may not be able to find anyone with the equipment to hook up to it.

There is a bill pending in Congress to force manufacturers to give their secret computer codes to repair shops and make available unique tools that are necessary to be able to work on some aspects of new cars, but so far that bill isn't moving along. You can guess who is trying to stop it.

But for now, it seems that the repair costs of owning a car don't have to be so bad, if you stay away from the car dealer who sold it to you and go to the often-smaller independent repair shop with the good reputation and who often needs your business and is willing to be more honest with you on how to save your hard earned money.

But if you get ripped off by a car dealer, call us. Helping consumers to protect themselves and their families is what we do. Every day. Since 1978.