As has been demonstrated in episodes of both Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, the relationship between car owner and car repair shop can be all-too-similar to the relationships you have with your friends and loved ones. But what does it take to push consumers over the edge to the point where they break up with the people who fix their cars?
Our gearhead cousins at Consumer Reports took a break from tooling around the test track in $100,000 electric vehicles to put together the magazine’s Annual Auto Survey.
In addition to sifting through 67,000 reports on service visits to independent mechanics and 101,000 service visits to new car dealerships by CR subscribers, the magazine spoke to more than 1,000 respondents who had switched garages in the last five years to discuss in detail their specific gripes.
About half the people who switched repair shops said their negative experience had occurred at a dealership. About 1/3 were driven away by an independent shop, while franchised repair shops like Midas and Sears were only responsible for about 20% of these defections to another garage.
The biggest reason CR readers gave for jumping ship to another shop was that their old garage didn’t fix the problem properly; a full 50% of switchers cited this issue. 33% of those who changed shops did so because their garage was charging too much money. One in four claimed they made the switch after their old shop sold them unnecessary parts or service. And around 20% said their former shops took longer than expected to complete the work, or jacked up the price after the job had begun.
Also of note: The CR survey found that 30% of females who stopped using their old repair shop did so because they felt like the garage staff were trying to take advantage of them because of their gender.
You can check out more from the CR survey at ConsumerReports.org.