Car servicing charges fall, says survey

The annual Labour Rates Survey carried out by Warranty Direct, suggests that garages are charging an average of £8.16 an hour less than last year to carry out service or repair work. The average hourly labour rate in 2013 of both franchised and non-franchised workshops is £74.70, down 9.84 per cent from £82.86 in 2012. Data from more than 12,000 cases were analysed in the study.

Increased competition from fast fits, aggressive manufacturer loyalty programmes and motorists willing to shop around for the best deals, are amongst the reasons for the price fall. Despite the annual drop, labour rates for garages have actually increased 33 per cent in the last decade, from an average £56.72 an hour in 2003 to £74.70 in 2013 for franchised dealers and independent workshops combined.

The biggest price increases from the last 10 years were found in franchised dealer workshops. In 2003, the most motorists would have been stung for one hour’s work was £152.75. That figure has been dwarfed with some franchised dealers in the South of England charging their mechanics out to customers at a rate of more than £200 an hour. The highest rate ever recorded by Warranty Direct was £202.21 in 2011, but in 2013 this had fallen by a couple of pounds to £200.40.

Of the 67 counties included in the survey, London is the most expensive place to get your car fixed at an average £89.33 an hour (franchised and independent garages combined). The Home Counties, Worcestershire and Cheshire complete the top 10. The cheapest place was Angus in Scotland – £62.04 on average for an hour’s labour.

Duncan McClure Fisher, managing director at Warranty Direct, said, “From this year’s results, it appears, for the first time, that consumers are starting to win the price war as labour rates finally start to fall across the UK. We’ve seen almost a decade of spiralling costs to keep a car on the road and it’s good to see dealers competing more on pricing.”

“Service clubs, servicing plans, fixed priced servicing and scheduled servicing bundles are being increasingly used by manufacturers and dealers to attract and retain customers. At the same time, consumers are getting smarter and learning how to shop around for better deals.”

Whilst prices fell by an average 10 per cent across the county, some areas experienced bigger rises and falls. West Lothian in Scotland actually saw labour rates increase 20.44 per cent over the period, whilst in Cornwall prices fell almost 19 per cent.


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