A survey by WarrantyDirect has revealed that car owners are looking at above inflation increases in the cost of servicing their cars, with certain garages charging more than £200 an hour to do the work.
Garages in general are now charging £80.44 an hour for a mechanic’s time, in contrast to £74.82 this time a year ago.
However taking a car to a franchised dealer is 57% more costly than utilizing an independent operator
A garage with the manufacturers name above the door is now charging £95.83 an hour – with motorists at one dealer in Essex paying £202.21, compared with the £60.68 average demanded by an independent.
“Drivers might have hoped there’d be some reprieve from the staggering costs of motoring, but no, they’re getting clobbered yet again,” said Duncan McClure Fisher of Warranty Direct
“To think that some workshops are charging in excess of £200 an hour is astounding – that’s equivalent to some people’s weekly wage. Motoring costs are approaching an unsustainable level.
“There’s been a move to push fixed priced service deals, but the knock-on effect is that dealers then charge much more for anybody who isn’t locked in and, once the car is on site, it’s often impractical to find a better price.”
According to the survey, the costliest servicing is to be found at garages with a Middlesex postcode, with an hourly labour charge of £98.21.
The lowest charges are in Northumberland, where the hourly rate is only £66.66.
“The rise in charges reflects what is going on in the complexity of the cars,” said an AA spokesman.
“We now have daytime running lights which has become mandatory
“For main dealers there is a constant need to keep reskilling their technicians
“A lot of dealerships and garages recognise that purse strings are very tight and are worried that they are going to lose customers, so there are a lot of good deals if you look for them.
“It would be dangerous if drivers are force to cut back on maintenance because of the higher cost.”
Sue Robinson, director of RMI, which represents garages, defended the industry: “Over the past 2-3 years garages have had to keep their rates down due to the current economic climate. It is important to note that a number of areas have to be factored in to the labour rate. The cost of heating, energy, fuel and commodities, all inflationary costs, have to be taken into account,” she said.
“In addition a garage owner has to ensure that he maintains the required diagnostic equipment and provide training to staff to meet the required standards which are set for servicing and repairing, all of which add considerable costs to the running of a proficient and professional garage.”