Dealer or DIY? Where should you go for car repair, maintenance

Independent mechanics can mean savings, too

SAN ANTONIO – With prices of new and used cars surging, more and more people are trying to keep their old cars longer. To do that, class car enthusiast Ian Karr says proper maintenance is key.

“Class cars are like classic people,” he said. “The older we get, the more maintenance we need.”

Even modern cars need routine maintenance and the occasional repair. So where should you take it? Or should you just roll up your sleeves?

If your vehicle is under warranty, Consumer Reports says always take it to the dealer for covered repairs. Also, they tend to have the most up-to-date tools and training for the particular model.

“Your should always bring your car to a dealer for recall work and any issue with the safety systems, including airbag and seatbelt repair,” said Consumer Reports’ auto expert Ryan Pszczolkowski. “This is because of the ever-increasing complexity of the hardware and software.”

He also recommends the dealer for anything to do with the infotainment system.

For less complex repairs, like brakes, suspension, spark plugs and even an alternator, he says you can save money be going to a trusted independent mechanic. They usually have lower labor costs and can keep costs down by using aftermarket parts.

For the simplest jobs where parts are readily available and inexpensive, Consumer Reports says doing it yourself can save you money. These tasks would include things like changing air filters, wiper blades and even headlights.


About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.