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Dealership Alternative: Specialty Repair Shops

Dealership Alternative:  Specialty Repair Shops

Most of my career focused on the support of General Motors dealerships.  I have great admiration for car dealers and recommend their services for maintenance and repair during the warranty period. If you are not a DIY person, then your local dealership can be a good place to get service beyond the warranty period.

Sadly, I am finding it harder to recommend a dealership for repairs–especially for import or specialty vehicles.  If you drive a domestic vehicle, it’s pretty easy to find a dealership to repair your vehicle.  Do a local search and you’ll find a good handful of dealers.  Pick one with great reviews and you should be set.  Of course, there are exceptions to that rule.  Many dealerships are having trouble hiring and retaining experienced technicians, so service availability and quality is becoming spotty.

Related article: Automotive Service Technician Programs

If you own a European car–especially German built–your choices are not as vast.  Brands like Mercedes, BMW/MINI and VW/Porsche/Audi have smaller dealer networks. This should translate to specialized service for owners of those cars; however, it also means fewer outlets to service cars across a greater geography.

Service Challenge

Late last year, I experienced the challenge of that smaller dealer network for MINI.  My wife drives an older MINI Countryman and I previously owned two other MINI vehicles. There are only two MINI retailers in Michigan, but one of them is only 10 miles from my house.  A couple of maintenance items are easy to DIY, but most are not.  Like so many other German vehicles, MINI vehicles require specialty tools and technicians for proper service.

Last November, the thermostat on the MINI failed.  This is a complex computer controlled thermostat buried deep in the engine compartment.  I’m a pretty good DIYer, but was smart enough to know a real pro needed to tackle this job.  My first call was to the MINI retailer where I bought the car.

That call ended in disappointment.  It was November 16, 2022, and the retailer told me they could not look at it until December 26th.  They were six weeks out for an appointment, which means repairs were likely to be completed after the New Year!  I was in disbelief, as the car should not be driven with a failed thermostat.  I needed an alternative plan, and needed it quickly!

Dealership Alternative

Many times, it is not going to be convenient or practical to use a dealership for service.  In fact, it might make better sense to locate a facility that specializes in the vehicle you own.

We have an independent repair shop near our home that specializes in European vehicles.  I used them a couple of times previously for smaller services and was quite pleased.  In desperation, I reached out to them for an appointment.  Boy, am I glad I did!

Motor City Euro Repair specializes in most German vehicle repairs.  I called them right after I called my MINI retailer hoping to get the car in within a week.  They were able to take me the following morning, diagnose the issue within hours and complete the repair by noon the following day. Less than 48 hours from my first call, the car was repaired and home.  Wow.

The entire service experience was excellent.  After they inspected the MINI, I received a text message with the inspection report and estimate for repairs.  I was able to select the services I wanted and approve the repairs via a return text.  This gave me the time needed to review the suggested service and make an informed decision.  This is how a great repair facility should work!

ribbing cutting at Motor City Euro Repair

Motor City Euro Repair (Farmington Hills, MI)

Last Friday, Motor City Euro Repair conducted a customer appreciation event.  I attended because I wanted to learn more about this shop and talk to the owner.  As good as their service was for me in November, the shop was even more impressive.


The owner of the shop, Blanard Jarbo, conducted the shop tour.  I’ve been in the back of many dealerships in my day and this facility ranks near the top.  What I saw was a clean shop with nine service bays and all of the special tools and software needed to repair specialty cars.  Blanard demonstrated his dedication to the service industry and drive for excellent customer service.

I also talked with one of their lead technicians, Tyler, and learned about his specialties and passion for working on German vehicles.  It was very clear that this repair facility has the tools, equipment and talent to provide top service for complicated vehicles.  They are also located three miles from my home.

You can learn more about Motor City Euro Repair HERE.  Hopefully you can find a similar shop near you.

Final Thoughts & Questions

I realize this might read like a review for Motor CIty Euro Repair, which they truly deserve.  In reality, this is a testimonial for the use of specialty repair shops for your car.  Even the best DIYer will need to outsource a repair.  Vehicles are getting more complicated each year, so the cost effective solution is professional help.  Be sure to find that help before you need it.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions. Please email me at wct.billtaylor@gmail.com, or message me through the Vehicle Nanny Instagram or Facebook pages.

Want to learn more about me?  Go to this article:   Who’s Your Nanny?

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