More Americans Less Trusting of Dealerships to Service Their Vehicles

While a significant percentage of the U.S. population gets their vehicles serviced at car dealerships, more and more of them have been taking their business elsewhere. According to a study by Kelley Blue Book, 35% of all serviced cars took place at a dealership in 2021. By 2023, that figure has dropped to 30%.

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How Was The Study Conducted?

Cox Automotive, the parent company to KBB, surveyed 2,493 vehicle owners, which included 182 electric vehicle owners, that had at least one service performed in the last twelve months. Over 5,500 service visits were accounted for. Researchers also interviewed service technicians and dealer employees with decision-making authority on fixed operations at 525 franchised car dealerships.

The results showed that dealers are losing customers. But they are not losing them to local auto shops. Instead, more people are bringing their cars to large service chains like tire service centers, and quick lube centers.

According to the study, a third of respondents said that they prefer having their cars serviced at “general repair shops” compared to the 31% who prefer dealerships. This is the first time car dealerships were found less favorable than local shops.

Why Are Car Dealerships Losing Customers?

But a big reason why auto dealerships are losing ground in the service department is because of one thing… trust.

When asked if they were to return to a dealership to have their vehicles serviced in 2023, 54% of participants said it was because they trusted the service techs. In 2021, trust was ranked much higher at 62%.

The cost of service is also another big variable to consider. Researchers discovered that in the last two years, the overall average price for auto service has risen 45%. But these figures aren’t exclusive to dealerships alone. The average cost for service at a dealership in 2023 was $258. Meanwhile, the same service at a non-dealer costs an average of $249.

48% of vehicle owners expressed frustration with their most recent service visits. Many reasons for this included long wait times, dealers trying to upsell customers on additional services, and high prices.

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