My perception of dealership techs is that they are extremely well trained to deal with late-model vehicles and their unique problems but in general less interested and experienced in older models and THEIR unique problems.
It seems to me a whole different skill set when you are primarily working on 10+ year old cars with 100K miles on the clock as compared to doing largely warranty work. Being familiar with common failure modes of well-broken-in systems, using experience and common sense rather than relying on computer-aided diagnosis, and knowing when to choose an aftermarket part vs. factory come to mind.
These are MY perceptions. I have the best of both worlds, however, a factory-trained ex-dealership tech who is now an independent and charges $55/hr instead of the dealership's $85. He would be the first to say that it was a significant adjustment to go out on his own and that there is a lot to learn when one leaves the dealership. This fellow will do whatever it takes to get the job done and done right, including working weekends or if necessary through the night to finish the job when promised. It's his name on the business so he has a real stake in the quality of his work.
Also, it it of inestimable value to be able to talk directly to the tech who is actually going to work on the vehicle. Not easily done at the dealership.
Last edited by 400E; 11-03-2002 at 10:06 AM.