Is it necessary to service your vehicle at a dealership?

During the founding of BUKL, my co-founder and I looked at who our potential customers would be, and one of the major determining factors was the age of the vehicle itself. 

Our initial assumption was that any car less than three years old would be out of our customer base as these cars needed to be serviced at dealerships for warranty reasons or a pre-purchased maintenance package. Through our research we learned that it doesn’t matter where you take your vehicle to be serviced.

The Hard Truth

By law, manufacturers cannot force you to service your vehicle at a dealership, meaning that your warranty is still valid if you take your vehicle to an independent auto shop for scheduled maintenance.

However, there are some guidelines to ensure that you’re not voiding your warranty, while also providing the proper maintenance regimen for your vehicle’s needs.

The first is that you want to ensure your vehicle is being serviced on schedule for mileage or the time duration since your last oil change. This is set by the manufacturer, and you can find it within your vehicle’s manual, though many newer vehicles will simply provide a notification on the dash that a required service is upcoming. It is important to follow this schedule, and to request and keep all invoices provided by an auto shop that clearly list the vehicles mileage at the time of servicing.

The second is to ensure that the fluids and filters being used match what is recommended by the manufacturer. This information can be found in the vehicle’s manual, but should also be listed on all work orders and invoices provided by independent auto shops.

These two items are key to adhering to your manufacturer’s policy of maintaining warranty in the case that something does malfunction with the vehicle during this period. After consulting with a local Chrysler dealership, having invoices that prove that the vehicles oil was changed correctly and on time from an independent auto shop, for example, would suffice for a warranty claim if an engine did start to malfunction.

Making A Decision

After speaking to a range of BUKL customers, it is evident that there is mixed feelings around visiting a dealership for maintenance. For many, dealerships are viewed as the best choice to have certified mechanics with specialized training on performing repairs on your car. Other customers were under the impression that the upselling and lack of clarity on the necessity of specific repairs justified visiting and forming a relationship with an independent auto shop.

In our view, the final decision comes down to the nature of the repair. For scheduled maintenance, independent auto shops can offer a geographically convenient and well priced service. At the same time you will develop a relationship with a mechanic that will come to know you and your vehicle.

For larger repairs such as a malfunctioning electrical system, we recommend taking your vehicle to a dealership. Larger and more complex issues will usually be unique to your vehicle’s year and model, and more often than not a mechanic at the dealership would have run into the issue once before. 

For everyday maintenance and repairs you can use the BUKL website (https://bukl.co/quote) or our iOS and Android app to get transparent and guaranteed pricing at over 150 independent auto shops in the GTA.