Should I Work at a Dealership or Independent Shop?

Should I Work at an Independent Shop or Dealership main image

Due to the nature of the industry itself, all automotive technician jobs are a bit different. What a mechanic does at one business may be nothing like what another mechanic does elsewhere. This kind of diversity can be a good thing, but it also means you’re going to need to put some thought into the type of work you want to do and where you want to do it. For the most part, this will come down to whether you wish to work at an independent shop or dealership, but there’s also a third option more and more mechanics are turning to.

Working at a dealership

Almost all dealerships have their own shop these days. Therefore, if you’re looking through automotive tech jobs, you’ll notice that a lot of them are being posted by local dealerships. Most mechanics who have worked in both dealerships and independent shops tend to think that the former is the ideal environment. There are a number of reasons for this, but let’s take a look at those that get brought up most often.

For one thing, dealerships tend to be better stocked. You don’t need to supply your own tools and you also don’t need to worry about having to carry out a complicated repair with less-than-ideal tools. Instead, you’ll almost always have access to the tool you need to do the job correctly. If you’ve ever experienced the opposite on a regular basis, you know how big a deal this is.

That’s not all, though, in terms of access. Say you’re working on a vehicle and end up breaking a trim panel. If you work at an independent shop, you’ll need to order out for a replacement and tell the customers that they’ll need to come back next week – never a fun situation. At a dealership, you can literally go out on the lot and simply take a brand new one off a car. Dealerships have direct access to manufacturers too. With how dynamic the automotive industry is, you’ll definitely experience the problem of working on a brand new system and not knowing what to do. Your fellow mechanics may be stumped too. This isn’t a problem, though, because you can just call the tech line.

Now, all this being said, the owner of a dealership can completely make or break the entire operation. Plenty of mechanics who have worked at dealerships will read the above and still not want to go back because of the experiences they had thanks to the owners.

Working at an independent dealership

Still, if you had to pick between the two, dealerships will probably offer the more preferable mechanic jobs. You’ll probably also secure a better auto mechanic salary too – even if the owner is less than ideal.

The thing is that dealerships are just more consistent. By their very nature, independent shops are all over the map. You may find one with a great owner and fun atmosphere amongst the workers.

Chances are, though, that no matter what, you’ll be short on resources. As we touched on above, you won’t have the tools you want. These shops also tend to have a reputation for not being well maintained simply because they don’t have the staff for that.

A lot of times, these operations are a bit more laid back too. There’s less structure to them. To be fair, some people prefer this. You have to expect that your auto mechanic salary is going to take a hit from this sort of approach, but you might find that it’s worth it to be able to relax a bit more.

At the end of the day, this is really a personal preference more than anything. Second, though, will depend on the specific location you’re considering. There are plenty of independent shops that the majority of mechanics would opt for over the average dealership. Our advice is to make sure you go to auto mechanic school and then continue investing in your value through ASE certifications. This way, you’ll always have options and can move around as you like until you finally find the perfect location to work. Experiencing several different employers will also help inform this decision.

A third option

You could also work as an independent mobile mechanic. At ( [], we specialize in connecting people who need help with their automobiles and those who know how to help them. As an independent mechanic, you can substantially improve your salary (between $40 and $60 an hour) and choose your own hours, giving you the best of both worlds.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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