A new study released by Consumer Reports says that for vehicle repairs, consumers are typically more satisfied using an independent shop than a franchised dealership. Only one automaker outranked both dealer and independent facilities: Tesla.
Consumer Reports listed 32 automakers in its analysis. Repair facilities were judged on four criteria: quality of repairs, price of parts and labor, repairs completed on time and the courteousness of the staff.
Tesla holds the top slot for dealerships, with excellent marks in all categories and an overall score of 93 out of 100. Most of the top ten automakers on the list are luxury brands. Coming in behind Tesla – in order – are Buick, Lincoln, Cadillac, Lexus, Porsche, Acura and GMC.
Tesla is also the only dealer that ranks higher than the independent shops. Satisfaction ratings for the remaining dealers range from 76 to 85. However, Consumer Reports notes that data might be slightly skewed when comparing Tesla to the other automakers.
“Part of Tesla’s current success might be because it’s new to the market, and it has a relatively small number of customers to satisfy compared with the established luxury brands,” said Consumer Reports.
On average, consumers were more satisfied with repairs from independent shops. With scores from 85 to 90, the lowest ranking independent repair shops scored equal to or above dealer facilities (with the exception of Tesla).
“To be fair to mechanics at franchised dealerships, our respondents also reported being very satisfied overall with their repairs despite being outscored by independent shops,” said Mark Rechtin, Consumer Reports Cars Content Development Team Leader.
Consumer Reports notes that it’s best to use a franchise dealer for warranty issues and service bulletins.
Repair facilities for alternative fuels vehicles cannot be compared because the analysis doesn’t separate vehicles by type, said Consumer Reports representative Douglas Love. Consumers with older models like the long-standing Prius may be able to find an experienced independent shop. For newer vehicles, such as all-electric and plug-in models, consumers will most likely have a difficult time locating a mechanic outside of the franchise dealer with the necessary training.
To calculate consumer satisfaction, Consumer Reports compiled surveys on 41,000 vehicles repaired at independent shops, and 80,000 that were repaired at franchised dealers. Scores for the more than 121,000 vehicles included in the survey were adjusted for repairs related to high mileage or serious problems.