Consumer Alert: Dealership vs. shop for car repairs

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EDISON -

When it's time for car repairs, is it worth the extra money to take your vehicle to the dealership, or is a local repair shop the way to go?

Experts say it all depends.

"When we did a survey of 40,000 consumer reports members, we found out that their preference was to go to independent shops over dealers," says Patrick Olsen, automotive director for Consumer Reports.

Olsen adds, "If you got a very tricky problem, the dealer may have better training, better equipment that can get that work done in a better way for you."

If you own a top-selling car, like a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord, Olsen says a competent mechanic should be fine. The more unique your car, the more likely it's worth the higher price to have the dealer do the repairs.

And of course, always use a dealership for warranty repairs or recalls.

Wherever you decide to go, the key is finding someone you trust. It can be a good idea to go by word of mouth -- talk to your friends, family and neighbors about who they take their car to for repairs.

Another piece of advice: it can pay to haggle. Consumer Reports found only one in five motorists tried to negotiate a lower price -- but most of those who took the time to do it wound up paying less.

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