The Debate: Dealership vs. Independent Auto Repair Shop for Your Toyota Service in Sacramento

Toyota Repair Sacramento, CA

When you are looking for a place to have your Toyota serviced in Sacramento, there are two types of establishments to consider for auto repair; either your Toyota dealership or a local, trusted independent shop. There is an on-going debate in the auto world about which place is the best for servicing your vehicle. Obviously, there are pros and cons to both choices, but there are a few misconceptions in the dealership vs. independent debate that we would like to discuss here.

  1. If I don’t get my service done at a Toyota dealership, I will lose my warranty.

This is not true. Legally, you are allowed to have anyone service your vehicle for issues not covered by your warranty. This work must be done correctly without impacting the validity of your warranty. This is part of a federal statute enacted in 1975 called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. It states, “No warrantor may condition the continued validity of a warranty on the use of only authorized repair service and/or authorized replacement parts for non-warranty service and maintenance.”  This means you can get maintenance and service not covered under your warranty (such as oil changes, etc.) done at an independent shop without impacting your warranty.

There are some problems that are covered under warranty that must be handled at your dealership, so always check your warranty and read the fine print to be sure, but the law is the law. Here is a link to the Federal Trade Commission site: for further information.

  1. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Toyota parts from the dealership are higher quality than those at a local repair shop.

This is false. The fact is that OEM parts can fail as well (which is why there are parts and service departments at the dealership) — and are not necessarily better than other brands of aftermarket parts, which can often exceed OEM specifications. Some dealerships may claim that using non-OEM parts could negate your warranty, however, according to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, aftermarket equipment that improves performance does not automatically void a vehicle manufacturer’s original warranty, unless the warranty clearly states the addition of aftermarket equipment automatically voids your vehicle’s warranty, or if it can be proven that the aftermarket device is the direct cause of the failure. And, according to the statute, the burden of proving that is on the dealer. If you are using a trustworthy independent repair shop that specializes in Toyota service, you can be sure they are using high quality parts.

  1. Toyota dealerships are the only ones who can keep all my service records current.

This is incorrect.   It is true that dealerships do keep current service records, however local independent shops have that capability as well. A thorough, independent shop will also keep completed service/repair records. In fact, with the availability of easy online programs that maintain and update service records with little effort, car owners should keep their own service records – this is particularly important in the event of a resale of the vehicle. Plus, owner’s manuals almost always provide space for service documentation and most independent shops also keep customer service records. The more car owners understand about their vehicle’s service/repair history and requirements, the more in control they will be of the service and repair experience.

  1. I have a relationship with the Toyota dealership because I bought my care there and I can trust the service center to do only the necessary service and repairs.

This is false! The fact is that your relationship is with the service writer whose pay is based on the amount of service he/she writes. You have no direct contact with the dealership mechanics or technicians (who more than likely will turnover with frequency), so the relationship is not personal. In a smaller independent repair shop, you are more likely to have a more direct relationship with the owner of the shop and even the mechanic. In all instances, check to make sure you are getting a fair price quote, and to understand possible diagnoses for your problem.

Finding a trustworthy, independent shop in your area that specializes in Toyota vehicle repair is an important way to properly care for your car. Most often, local shops are less expensive than dealerships and can offer you personalized attention and service. In the Sacramento area, call Standard Auto Care for specially trained and certified Toyota service and repair.