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DONNA HARRIS

Is service at the dealership 34% better than the local garage?

Donna Harris covers automotive retailing for Automotive News
New-car dealers’ share of the retail service and parts business has been steadily declining for the last decade.

In 2000, it was 33.0 percent; last year it was 28.8 percent and falling, reports the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. When asked what caused the erosion, research director Ron Rossi told me without hesitation it’s the dealers’ high-priced repairs.

Rossi said the association’s recent study found dealers’ prices on 10 common repairs were an average 34 percent higher than those of independent repair shops.

Sure, dealerships typically have better-trained mechanics, special tools and sophisticated equipment that justify a somewhat higher price. But especially in a depressed economy, budget-conscious consumers aren’t likely to see it that way.

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