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Do You Need To Go Back To The Dealership For Maintenance?


I've been around the automotive service world for many years. "Do I need to go to the dealership or can I go somewhere else?" is probably one of the most common question I hear. And my answer has always been..."it depends". There are many reasons to go back to the dealership as well as many reasons not to.

Autumn is a busy time for my wife and I. We have two college athletes at different universities and both in season in the fall. Needless to say, we do a lot of driving during the autumn. On one of our recent trips, I noticed that the wiper blades needed replaced. Now, I'm pretty handy and this is something that I'm confident in changing myself. Even my wife, who doesn't like to do any of the auto maintenance, is comfortable doing this. Since this the car she drives, I asked her if she would just stop on her way home to buy replacement blades.

 Long story short, that evening she informed me that the parts stores didn't have the replacement blades and I'd have to go back to the dealership. Upon hearing this, I begin thinking that whoever she talked to just didn't know what they were talking about. I mean, come on, wiper blade replacements are sold in every big box store, parts, store and many gas stations. This is a common item that's replaced all the time. So, I tell her, I'll take care of it.

So, on Saturday, I look up online the wiper blades. Sure enough, the local aftermarket parts store have several in stock that fits my car. So, I drive down to get them. I tell the friendly store attendant what I need. He looks it up on the computer and says they have them in stock and goes to get them. He brings them back, I pay for them and go out to clip them on. As you've probably figured out by now, it wasn't that easy. The wiper blades that the computer showed were the exact replacement, didn't fit. I come back in and tell him. Now, he acts a little like I don't know what I'm doing, So he says he'll be right out to help me put them on. Needless to say, he can't get them on either.

"those particular blades are only available from the dealership, you'll have to go back to them to get it"

Store Manager

We head back into the store to search further on the computer. Finally, the store manager inquires and proceeds to tell me what I fear, "those particular blades are only available from the dealership, you'll have to go back to them to get it". Now, I'm beginning to imagine the price of the wiper blades getting higher as we speak and what the taste of crow will be when I tell my wife.

I drive over to the dealership. While in route, I'm calculating in my head what the price is going to be. Since the dealership is the only place that has them, surely they're going to be higher. I walk up to the parts counter and tell them what I need. And to my surprise, the wipers were less than if I'd purchased an aftermarket replacement. Needless to say, I purchased them and snapped them in place. 

I walked away from the dealership wondering how many other people had the same experience I just did. I thought I knew where to go and what to buy. But, in this case, I definitely needed to go back to the dealership.

So, to answer the question, do you have to go back to the dealership for maintenance? Well, it depends.

In most cases, you can get regular maintenance performed on your vehicle at independent repair shops as well as a new car dealerships. In my case, I did need to go back to the dealership. If you've taken your car in for service and the technician encounters a situation like I did, then they will need to get the parts from the dealership as well. But they can be installed by an independent shop. Unless it's a specific recall or warranty item that needs to be addressed by the dealership, you can probably have the service completed at an independent repair shop. 

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