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Dealership vs. independent shop

I have been pricing out to see what it will cost me to have my timing belt replaced on my Kia, and found the lowest price from a local independent shop at about $475. I then for the heck of it called the local Kia dealership near me and they quoted me a price of $500 and that included also replacing the serpentine belt also. With the difference being only $25 i am kinda not sure whom to go with. I have had work done at the independent shop and never had an issue, but wouldn’t the dealership have a better understanding of this work and such? Which one is the better choice?

Sometimes dealers can do OK with a job because they go by the “book” on number of hours to charge for labor. Just be sure that both quotes include the same things, new coolant, new water pump, new tensioner, new belt, new serp belt.

Sometimes Honda dealers throw out a low price and then say that stuff like a water pump and new tension are extra. They claim that not all cars require all those items and justify a low ball price that way, but just about every job gets a new water pump.

If apples are apples meaning both quotes cover the same stuff, advantage goes to the dealer in my opinion as their techs should have all the Kia knowledge to handle the job well.

Make sure that the price includes a new timing belt tensioner pulley and/or water pump if driven by the timing belt. A failed tensioner pulley or water pump can take out a new belt. If your vehicle has over 100k miles, it’s good to get a new serpentine belt tensioner pulley too.

Both might hit you with these extras after you are committed.

PS, the reason for not changing the tensioner pulley with each new serpentine belt before 100k miles is that a failure of the tensioner, unlike the timing belt tensioner, will not immediately stop your engine nor possibly ruin your engine unless you continue to drive after you see a red warning light from the alternator or temp indicator.

Everything else being equal, I’d go with the dealer. The dealer is more likely to have special tools either good to have or else required, the latest service bulletins and a knowledge of informal recalls.

Sometimes dealers can do OK with a job because they go by the “book” on number of hours to charge for labor.

All the independents that I know of go by the “Book”…Why they’re cheaper is because their hourly rate is so much less…Good independent near me charges $70/hr…Dealer - $110/hr.