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Car servicing costs above inflation rises

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Car owners are facing further rises in the costs of motoring as servicing costs soar to above inflation prices, with some garages charging £200 an hour for the work.

The rise is the latest in a series of financial blows for the millions of motorists on UK roads, who have seen the price of fuel increase in the same period by up to as much as 20 pence per litre in some parts.

Garages are now charging on average £80.44 an hour for a mechanic’s time, compared to an average of £74.82 the same time last year.

Taking the car to a franchised dealer that is linked to the manufacturer is even more expensive, up to 57% more so than that of an independent garage.

If a motorist was to go to a branded garage, they could expect to pay around £95.83 per hour, one dealer in Essex was even charging £202.21 per hour, compared to that of an independent garage which would ask for around £60.68.

Duncan McClure Fisher of Warranty Direct said: “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 surveys, people with a Middlesex postcode will feel the brunt of the rises, as the most expensive servicing is to be found in this area, charging an hourly labour fee of £98.21.

The lowest charges are in Northumberland, where the hourly rate is only £66.66.

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."

"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.”

By Ben Malkin

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