Australian Ford Member
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
I've had about half a dozen new cars of various makes, including Ford, over the years and have never taken them to a dealer after the first service (which is usually necessary to fix up a few minor problems) except for warranty items identified later by me or another mechanic. As others have said, as long as a qualified mechanic does service, AND completes service book for evidence of compliance, you shouldn't have any problems with warranty.
The problem I've always had is finding a decent mechanic. My idea of a decent mechanic is one who does work that I or someone else don't have to fix up later on and who doesn't create any new problems in fixing up the existing ones.
Dealers are usually a lot more expensive than independent mechanics running their own businesses, but people like Ultra Tune and Shell Care aren't necessarily any cheaper or better, and they can tell you some crap too. Ultra Tune told me when my XF was about 70,000 km that those model cams were soft and if I didn't replace it promptly the pushrods would collapse and stuff the engine, which sounded like bull to me. The car has over 280,000km on it now with the same cam and no problems.
People who've worked in the trade might know, but I've had the impression that dealerships use a lot of unskilled or semi-skilled trades assistants to do the actual work, where independent mechanics usually do their own, so you've got a better skill level.
The problem with modern cars is whether the independent has the same quality of diagnostic equipment and specilaist knowledge of the cars.