The Advantages of Independent BMW Repair

Published 9 years ago — by Allison Powell

Independent BMW repair shops save drivers from unnecessary repairs and unnecessary expenses.

Save $$$ by going to an indy BMW mechanic

Save $$$ by going to an indy BMW mechanic
Photo Credit: Debs

Experiencing a mechanical failure while driving your BMW can be a very stressful experience. A surefire way to add misery to the situation is hearing the laundry list of required repairs and the associated price from the service advisor at your local BMW dealer’s service center.

Recently, Sarah from Alpharetta, GA was driving her 2005 325i at low speed on local roads when she was suddenly unable turn the wheel of her car. “I just couldn’t steer anymore. I didn’t know how I was going to turn off the road safely,” recalls Sarah. Barely able to drive back home, she got the sinking feeling that whatever was wrong was going to cost big bucks to repair. A quick call to her brother helped confirm that her power steering pump had failed, a common problem with e46 3-series cars. Having purchased her car new from a local dealer, Sarah has always turned to them for maintenance and as her car starts to age, she’s heading in for repairs.

“I knew I could be saving money with an independent BMW mechanic but I was in a pinch and didn’t know how to find a reliable shop,” said Sarah. Once at the dealer, it was confirmed that her power steering pump definitely needed to be replaced. The service advisor also recommended replacing an assortment of related hoses, brackets, and clamps. Knowing only that she needed her car back on the road, Sarah authorized the dealer to do all of the recommended work.

This experience with a major repair has led Sarah to strongly consider finding a local BMW repair specialist for future scheduled maintenance and repairs. In addition to potential cost savings, there are plenty of other benefits to building a relationship with a nearby BMW repair shop.

BMW e325

BMW e325
Photo Credit: Daniel Photos

Walter Wiesboeck, owner of Motorcars International in nearby Smyrna, GA, points out that the customer facing staff at your local BMW repair shop has more technical training and is better equipped to make sure you’re only making repairs that are necessary. Wiesboeck says, “The dealer service advisor is usually hired to be a people person, at independent shops, the service advisor is more often than not, a former BMW technician.” Having a mechanical background makes the service writer better equipped to explain your vehicle’s symptoms to the technician, and also to explain the technician’s observations to you. Because their service writers don’t know much about cars, dealer technicians may recommend unnecessary or “proactive” repairs to fill their scheduled hours, and the service writer passes the recommendations on to the driver without the ability to review them critically.

After reviewing Sarah’s work order, Wiesboeck noted she may have been a victim of this very process. “We are aware of the power steering pumps failing but we don’t replace hoses unless the are leaking. The repair order doesn’t specify that leaks were found,” he says. It’s likely Sarah paid to replace hoses and fixings that would have worked fine with her new power steering pump. On average, the independent repair shop quotes we received would have saved Sarah about 40% on labor and 20% on parts, but she could have saved even more if the hose replacement was truly unnecessary.

After 40 plus years in the industry, BMW experts like Wiesboeck know more than just how to follow a prescribed troubleshooting tree like many of the younger techs working at the dealer. Technicians at independent repair shops see a larger variety of out of warranty cars and are familiar with the common issues. Even better, the BMW technician at your local independent repair shop with get to know your car and be able to make recommendations specific to your driving habits.

If you’re like Sarah and looking to make the switch from the dealer to an independent BMW service provider, it’s a good idea to make the jump in a low pressure situation. Take your car to a local shop for you next oil change or scheduled inspection. Many shops will offer loaners or low cost rentals for your convenience, or they may be able to quickly and efficiently complete the service while you wait, without all of the delay of dealer service.

A special thanks to Walter Wiesboeck at Motorcars International in Smyrna, GA and Alan Beech of Beech Motorworks in Hamilton, ON for their help in preparing this article.

Search for a local, independent BMW repair shop with BMW mechanics that have dealer-level expertise at a fraction of the cost.