I know I'm due for a tune-up; my ford dealer wants $600+, another ford dealer wants $300 and a local reputable auto repair shop wants $315.
Not shure why my local dealer is so high, when I asked the service tech said they were doing what was required(?). I want to do whats right but don't want to be overcharged for work that isn't required. Any thoughts or advice.
Can't compare one to another when you don't spell out what is going to be done. All shops have to constantly upgrade their equipment and training to cover all the new insane things the engineers do to our cars. They are real good at building in required repairs and expected breakdowns that can't be handled by independent shops. Some services are required to keep any warranties in force. Basically, when you buy a newer car, you're buying high-cost repairs and maintenance. Much of that maintenance is not necessary to the life expectancy of the vehicle. Many of the "scheduled" services are posted to bring additional service work to the dealers to keep them busy.
You'll also notice that Ford is particularly good at listing very long service intervals to make their cost of regular maintenance look very low compared to other brands. It is almost impossible to follow those "normal driving" schedules. If you drive on dirt roads, drive in the city, drive at highway speeds, etc, you fall under the "severe" driving conditions which matches other manufacturers' normal driving schedules. That practice first became evident with 7,500 mile oil change recommendations on the Escort. All mechanics know the additives in engine oil wear out in half that mileage leaving the engine unprotected from corrosion and leaking seals. If those problems arose under warranty, they could blame it on poor maintenance.
Also, because of all the unnecessary, unreliable, complicated computers they hang onto our cars to do things computers were never needed for before, all shops spend huge amounts of money every year to upgrade and update their equipment. Add in all the government regulations and taxes, and it becomes real hard to stay in business when only charging $100.00 per hour. We voted for these idiot politicians and now we're seeing the result.
If you can list exactly what each repair shop is going to do, we might be able to determine the cost difference. Dealers are always going to be expensive because they have a lot of manufacturer-imposed costs, but better independent shops also have to seek out and pay for advanced training.