Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Survey Reveals the Industry Through the Consumer's Eyes

Dale Bertram
May 11, 2012

Consumer Reports just came out with their latest Annual Auto Survey on car repairs. Each year, Consumer Reports asks car owners how satisfied they were with auto repairs performed by dealerships and independent shops for the previous year. For this year's report, Consumer Reports received responses on 168,000 vehicles. Here are some of the findings.

Consumers who were not completely satisfied with their repairs gave these reasons:

  • 38% – Price of repair was too high
  • 28% – Did not fix the problem properly
  • 21% – Took longer than expected to complete the work
  • 18% – Had to bring the car back because the repair did not hold up
  • 11% – Price was more than originally estimated

When it came to price, dealerships got the biggest complaints at 42%, while independents came in at 32%. The problem of the vehicle not being fixed properly was equal for dealerships and independents. Overall, consumers take their vehicles to independents instead of dealerships, as has been the case for several years now.

When consumers decide to take their business to another shop it is because of the following:

  • 50% – Vehicle wasn’t fixed properly
  • 34% – Price too high
  • 23% – Repair didn’t hold up
  • 19% – Treated poorly by staff
  • 19% – Repair took longer than expected
  • 19% – Price was higher than originally estimated

Where did they have their negative experiences?

  • 1/2 at a dealership
  • 1/3 at an independent
  • 1/5 at franchised chains

Consumer Reports' Recommendations to Consumers:

  • Explain to your car care provider your vehicle’s symptoms in detail
  • Do not come into the shop with a self-diagnosis you got from an Internet search
  • Go on a test drive with the technician
  • Get an estimate before work is performed
  • Ask to see old parts
  • Document the repair(s)
  • If you have to keep coming back for the same problem, you may be covered under your state's Lemon Law statute.
  • If you have found a shop that does the job right the first time at a fair price, hang on to them!

Happy Motoring!

Dale Bertram

About the Author

I am an ASE-certified technician and have owned my own auto repair business, Fairway Auto Repair, since 1991. I am also an AMI graduate with a AAM degree, and continue my education by taking various courses during the year. I am a hard core car guy. Basically if it isn't mechanical, I'm not interested in it. This passion for vehicles has driven me throughout my life. My hobbies are my cars. I have two 1968 Camaros and a 1971 Camaro that my son and I built. I also raced an IMCA modified dirt track car for 10 years. In the last few years, I have been involved with autocross and road course racing events.  I have been married to my wife, Lorie, for 28 years and we have two children, Kaila (16) and Landon (13). I also enjoy the outdoors and hiking. Please check out my shop's page at

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