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Garage labour rates vary by £160 per hour reveals new survey

Garage labour rates vary by £160 per hour reveals new survey

The average cost of having a car repaired at a garage can vary by more than £160 an hour, according to a new report.   

Motoreasy, the motoring solutions provider, surveyed 6,000 garages across the UK and found huge variations in how much motorists paid, with one mechanic in Reading charging as much as £234 per hour. In comparison, the cheapest, offered by an independent workshop in Manchester, was £36 an hour.

Overall, the UK average labour rate - combining main dealers, independent workshops and fast-fit outlets - was £67 an hour. Franchised workshops were generally more expensive, with an average UK labour rate of £99 compared with an independent garage average of £56, a difference of more than 40%.

The five most-expensive regions for car repairs were mostly in the south, with Surrey being number one, with an average hourly rate of £81.07. London was the second-most expensive (£77.42) while third was Worcestershire at £77.16 per hour. Berkshire and Buckinghamshire complete the list with respective hourly rates of £76.77 and £76.65.  

Meanwhile, the cheapest regions were mostly found in the Scottish and Welsh counties, indicating a clear north/south divide. The cheapest average rate was in the Scottish county Selkirkshire at £49.69.

Yet, despite the huge difference in price, more than three quarters of motorists (77% of 2,000 surveyed) admitted they had no idea how much they paid for an hour of labour at their local garage.  

Duncan McClure Fisher, Motoreasy founder, said: “Today’s drivers don’t have the time or, in many cases, the knowledge to make absolutely sure they are getting the best price from garages.  

“It’s not made any easier by the fact that the cost of labour differs so vastly across the UK. Even so, anyone spending money should at least understand how much they are paying and for what.”  

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle dealers, claimed in response that the hourly price of a service was not the true way of measuring value.  

Sue Robinson, NFDA director, said: “The franchised dealer network has highly trained skilled engineers who place safety and the quality of service above the hourly cost. The hourly rate, measured in the Motoreasy survey does not equate to final bill and is not reflective of the final cost of service.  

“An unqualified engineer, charging an hourly rate, may take longer to service a vehicle as a result of not having access to the manufacturer, the specialist equipment and the added free of charge services such as software updates.”  

In the recent spring 2017 NFDA Consumer Attitude Survey it was revealed that the average final service price difference between franchised dealers, independent garages and non-franchised national chains was only £20 difference. In addition 67% of consumers thought franchised dealers represented good value for money.