Getting My Car Serviced – Should I go to the Dealer, or Local Repair Shop?

Service Centre

After you’ve driven your car, truck or SUV off the car dealer’s lot, protecting your investment and ensuring you get the maximum value from your vehicle is important. Keeping your car serviced, based on a defined maintenance schedule, extends its life expectancy. Deciding where to maintain your car can be a challenge, factors to consider include:

  • Local garages often offer lower prices
  • Car dealers are sometimes less convenient to home or work, where an independent repair shop is usually around the corner
  • Brake, lube, or muffler shops often offer guarantees as long as you own your vehicle
  • Car dealers seem to recommend additional maintenance services, where a local mechanic just does what needs to be done or what I ask.

Though these considerations are valid, it’s important to consider long term performance and cost of car ownership. In many cases, maintaining a relationship with your car dealer can save you money, even if you get some services done by independent repair shops.

Here are four factors to consider when deciding who you let work on what’s under your hood.

  1. Vehicle Manufacturer’s Warranty

Whether you have the standard “Bumper to Bumper” and drive train (engine, transmission and related parts) warranty or extended warranty, the terms of the manufacturer warranty usually requires you to use their parts, or have your car maintained by one of their authorized dealers. Certain services, like oil changes, brake pads or other wearable parts can sometimes be performed at a “factory authorized service station” that isn’t a dealer; but make sure you check first. Keeping a schedule of maintenance services will make sure you are covered by warranty, provided you keep up with services like:

  • Lube, oil, and filter changes
  • Tire rotations and alignment checks
  • Brake inspection and servicing
  • Tune-ups including spark plugs and wires
  • Transmission service
  • Inspections of your muffler or exhaust and cooling systems,
  • Coolant/antifreeze flush based on your vehicle’s maintenance schedule

This seems like a long list of services, and possibly a great deal of expense. However often these services can be combined, or if they are done on time can help you avoid a much more expensive repair. If you have your tires rotated, the mechanic will often have a look at your brakes and muffler while the car is on the hoist. Lube, oil and filter changes usually involve checking all the vehicle fluids including a power steering and transmission fluid. Finding out the state of those fluids will let you know if there is a potential problem which might be covered under your car’s warranty. At an independent repair shop, they aren’t as motivated by your car’s warranty and may try to charge you for a repair which you should be covered for.

  1. Original Manufacturer’s Parts

Buying parts which were tailor-made for your car may have a sticker price higher than what you get from a shop that uses “after-market” parts (parts made by a company other than the one that built your car). The after-market parts may seem like the better deal, but if you use parts that weren’t made by the original manufacturer, they likely weren’t tested for:

  • Safety and load tolerance tests with your vehicle during accident and other factory simulations
  • Longevity, durability and fit to the extent that you will get from parts you will get from the dealer.
  • Some after-market parts are built in countries where quality control standards are not as rigorous as that of the manufacturer
  • Damage or other car problems caused by the failure of an aftermarket part will likely not be covered under the terms of your vehicle’s warranty

If you do need or want to get your vehicle serviced somewhere other than a dealership, try to find a service provider who uses parts from your car’s manufacturer. They last longer, and you can be sure they meet warranty standards.

  1. Good Will

Keeping a positive, ongoing relationship with the car dealer you bought your car from can pay off in the long run. If you have your car serviced there regularly, they will go the extra mile for you in numerous ways:

  • Pointing out warranty items for you which need addressing which, and that if left un-repaired will incur costs when you exceed your vehicle warranty
  • CSI, or “Customer Satisfaction Index” is a very important metric for car dealers. Service is an important part of their customer satisfaction objective.
  • If you are a customer who frequents their service department, you could earn yourself a better deal on future vehicle purchases.
  • Just like a good relationship with a doctor, dentist, or even a hair salon, getting to know your car dealer builds trust and goodwill. Getting introduced to the staff at the dealership when you pick up your car is good practice which any good salesperson should do for you.
  • Since a car dealer retains records of all services performed on your car, if a problem occurred before, and they replaced parts from the car maker, they may get future replacement costs covered for you if the same defect occurs again.
  • You will feel more valued as a repeat customer, and you can take advantage of dealer-only services like transportation to work, car washes or other courtesies.
  1. Vehicle Diagnostic Equipment

Local mechanic shops are often equipped for minor repairs such as brake pads, oil changes and other routine maintenance. Some car repairs require the use of testing equipment that is more expensive than local shops can afford; or they may not have mechanics that are trained to use them. Hooking your car up to a “Scope”, which determines why your car is behaving a certain way, may take a long time, or multiple visits to discover without the scope test. If your vehicle is beyond warranty this testing may cost money, however finding out the cause the first time could save you in the long term.

Owning a car is a big expense, and making sure you keep it properly maintained, on a defined schedule, can save you more big payments in the long run. Many repairs can also help you avoid accidents or breakdowns in poor weather or in places you don’t want to be stranded.

Making the choice to have your vehicle serviced where your warranty terms will not be violated is best choice, as is using parts which are factory made for your make and model. Don’t wait until it’s too late to get your car serviced. Scheduling services ensures there are no surprises and you will be able to predict when you will be without your car.

Need help getting your car serviced or repaired? Email us at [email protected] or call us at 1 (888) 657-3296.

The Most Stolen Cars in Ontario

The Insurance Bureau of Canada has released a report of the most stolen cars in Ontario for 2015. The report included tips about how to reduce vehicle theft. An interesting note is the majority of these vehicles were stolen with the keys in the car. These thefts often happened while owners were in a store leaving their vehicles running, or leaving their vehicles running while they were in their homes.

Below are the most common vehicles stolen in Ontario for 2015. Hopefully your car isn’t on the list:

2003 Cadillac Escalade

1.  2003 Cadillac Escalade

2010 Acura ZDX

2.   2010 Acura ZDX

2008 BMW X6

3.  2009 BMW X6

2012 Acura MDX

4. 2013 Acura MDX

2003 Chevrolet Avalanche

5.   2003 Chevrolet Avalanche

2013 Toyota Highlander

6.   2013 Toyota Highlander

2005 Hummer H2

7.   2005 Hummer H2

2013 Toyota Venza

8.    2014 Toyota Venza

2011 BMW X6

9.   2011 BMW X6

2003 Chevrolet Avalanche

10.   2004 Chevrolet Avalanche

New Cars To Avoid

Consumer Reports asked their members in the US about their cars and their satisfaction in owning those vehicles. The question asked of subscribers, “Considering all factors (price, performance, reliability, comfort, enjoyment, etc.), would you get this car if you had it to do all over again?”

The percentage score indicates how many respondents said yes to the question. Below are seven car/truck categories and the lowest scores for each category. The owner satisfaction score is based on two or three model years of data. For models with an asterisk below (*), the score is owner satisfaction based on one model year only.

Kia Rio

Car: Kia Rio*

Definitely would buy again: 40 percent

Jeep Compass

SUV: Jeep Compass*/Jeep Patriot

Definitely would buy again: 46 percent

Hyundai Veloster

Sporty Car: Hyundai Veloster

Definitely would buy again: 50 percent

Nissan Quest

Minivan: Nissan Quest

Definitely would buy again: 54 percent

Mercedes CLA

Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz CLA

Definitely would buy again: 55 percent

Nissan Altima

Family Sedan: Nissan Altima

Definitely would buy again: 58 percent

Nissan Frontier

Pickup Truck: Nissan Frontier

Definitely would buy again: 60 percent


Is Buying A Used Car a Better Deal?

Car Dealership

When it comes time to purchase a vehicle, it’s inevitable that most buyers will ask themselves, “Should I buy a new or used vehicle?” Well there isn’t necessarily one universal answer to this question as every situation is unique, but here is some food for thought. Please bear in mind this post is directed at the bulk of the market given the current conditions.

Used Car Supply Shortage

There is a shortage of used vehicles in the Canadian market. This is a result of the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 which hampered Canadian car sales. Consequently there are less six or seven year old cars being traded in, which would have been available on the used car market.

The other issue placing pressure on the Canadian used car supply is the Canadian dollar. With the fall of the dollar, the Canadian used car market is seeing a huge flux of American used car dealers snapping up Canadian inventory. Given the value of the American dollar, they are happy to pay a premium price to get access to the most desirable used car inventory.

Attractive New Car Incentives

Manufacturers and new car dealers are hungry to sell cars, and they are creating attractive offers. Some manufacturers are offering 0% financing up to 8 years, and others are offering thousands of dollars in cash rebates if you purchase their vehicle. This is money in your pocket, and narrowing the purchasing cost between new and used.

And we haven’t even looked at leasing. Depending on the vehicle, your driving habits and interest rates, leasing may in fact be a more attractive financing solution to purchasing a new vehicle, and may result in lower monthly payments. With a lease, you make your monthly payments and simply return the car after the lease ends, or you will have a right to purchase the vehicle at the market value. This approach does have merit as many manufacturers have created attractive leasing programs, and also bear in mind a car is a depreciating asset. So depending on your situation, it might make better financial sense to lease a vehicle.

Peace of Mind

If you are someone who is going to drive their car into the ground, you are still probably better buying new. As you are the first owner of the car, you can ensure it will receive the proper maintenance and care from day one. And as the original owner, you have a full new car warranty straight from the manufacturer, which lasts between 3 and 5 years, depending on the make. Plus you will receive an additional few years of service from the vehicle, compared to buying a car or truck that is already a few years old.

If you have any specific car buying questions, I am happy to help. Please feel free to email me at [email protected]






The Left Lane is for Passing


I am sure we have all noticed the increased level of congestion on our roads. Population surges in urban centres like Toronto  and Vancouver naturally will bring additional traffic. As drivers there isn’t a ton we can do, however there is one easy step all drivers can take to keep our roads moving more smoothly…

Stop hogging the left lane!

Yes it’s something we should have learned in driver’s education, but unfortunately not all of us have remembered that lesson.

It’s very simple – on roads where the speed limit is over 80km/h you should only be in the left lane for one of the following reasons:

  • Overtaking and passing another vehicle.
  • Moving left to allow traffic to merge.
  • Preparing for a left hand turn.
  • Moving left to pass an official vehicle displaying a flashing light.

If you have driven on Highway 401, then you will know this rule is either not understood or ignored. However, this problem has become so serious that in British Columbia (for example), new regulations now allow police officers to issue a $167 fine and give 3 penalty points to drivers caught using the left lane improperly.

So I implore you to kindly pay attention to the roads and be considerate to other drivers, and get the f**k out of the left lane.

Do you need vehicle maintenance? Do you have a car question? WeeL can help. Email us at [email protected] or call 1 (888) 657-3296.



Ridesharing Programs and Insurance: What do you Know?

Uber Driver

With each passing day, ridesharing programs, such as Uber, are growing in popularity. These services provide benefits to both drivers and passengers. For drivers, earning solid income is a real possibility. For passengers, Uber, among other services, offers lower rates than taxi drivers.

But here is something you may not be thinking about: the insurance implications.

There are risks associated with ridesharing programs, both for drivers and passengers. In fact, many believe the myth that drivers and/or passengers are automatically covered in the event of an accident.

The Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) touched on this in greater detail, with President Michael Brattman noting the following:

“The simple fact is that UberX is a new concept that Ontarians are embracing quickly, both as drivers and as passengers. At this time, drivers and passengers should know that there is no existing endorsement for a personal lines policy that is available today that would guarantee coverage or protection in the event of a collision during an UberX experience.”

Take for example a driver working for Uber with a standard personal auto insurance policy. This person has a responsibility to inform their broker or insurance company that they are also using their vehicle for commercial purposes. Failing to do so typically means that their coverage is not extended.

Most people purchase car insurance because they have to. They never think they will be involved in an accident, until something bad happens to them. At that point, especially if one or more party is injured, things can become more complex. Add in an Uber driver and passenger, and the end result is a complex claim.

Ridesharing programs aren’t going anywhere. If anything, these services will continue to grow in the years to come. For this reason, it is imperative for drivers and passengers to be fully aware of their rights and responsibilities in regards to insurance.

This article was prepared by our partner Insurance Jack has simplified the process of buying insurance, with a hassle free experience of choosing and purchasing insurance products.