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For immediate release
January 31, 2002
Contact:
NPR: Jenny Lawhorn
202.513.2754, jlawhorn@npr.org
CT: Doug Mayer
617.876.6632 x14, dmayer@cartalk.com



Dealer or Independent Shop? New Car Talk Study Help Solve Customer Dilemma

CAMBRIDGE, MA-Tom and Ray Magliozzi, hosts of NPR's Car Talk, have completed a comparative study that helps car owners answer an age-old automotive conundrum: whether to have their cars serviced at the dealership or by an independent shop.

Surveying 158 dealers and independent garages nationwide on four common repairs, Car Talk found that, on average, dealers charge more than independents for repairs. Car Talk used a five-year-old Honda Civic and a five-year-old Dodge Intrepid for the research. In the case of Honda, dealers charged 18 percent more than independents. Dodge dealers charged 12 percent more than independents.

"Based on what listeners have told us of their dealer experiences, we always knew that this was true, but all the evidence was purely anecdotal," says Ray. "Now we have some hard numbers to back it up."

"This is not a big surprise," said Tom. "Dealers charge more because they have to. They have bigger overhead costs. After all, does Crusty down the street have a 'service adviser' in a white lab coat who writes up the repair orders? Does he have a waiting room with doughnuts and coffee, or a van that takes you to work? Loaner cars? No."

So, do the brothers recommend that you should never go to the dealership for repairs? No. "Dealerships do offer some advantages," says Tom. "For one thing, they will know more about your car than the independent shop. They may not have to spend a lot of time diagnosing a problem that's unique to your car. And if there happens to be a manufacturing defect in some part, the dealer may replace it for free. If you've got a weird problem, the dealer is probably a better bet. "

So, what is the brothers' advice? If you don't mind what your mechanic wears to work and you can live without extras like donuts, coffee, and loaner cars, you can save a significant amount of money by going to an independent repair shop. Complicated or unusual problems are better handled by dealers.

The complete study results, along with charts, graphs, and details of savings by region can be found at their web site, the Car Talk section of cars.com.

Wondering what to do with all the money you'll save thanks to Tom and Ray's advice? "Send it directly to our secret bank account in the Cayman Islands," says Tom.

Car Talk airs weekends on NPR member stations nationwide. Listeners call 888-CAR-TALK with a question about cars and car repair. Tom and Ray Magliozzi also give advice in a weekly newspaper column distributed by King Features Syndicate. Their web site is at the Car Talk section of cars.com.

NPR, renowned for journalistic excellence and standard-setting news, information and cultural programming, serves a growing audience of more than 16 million Americans each week via more than 640 public radio stations. NPR Onlinesm at www.npr.org brings hourly newscasts, news features, commentaries and live events to Internet users through original online reports, audio streaming and other multimedia elements. NPR also distributes programming to listeners in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa via NPR Worldwide, to military installations overseas via American Forces Network and throughout Japan via cable