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Price difference between main dealers and non-franchised workshops shrinking

According to Warranty Direct’s latest labour rates study, the average main dealer hourly rate (£92.11) was 44.9% more than the average non-franchised rate (£63.56).

In 2006, franchised premises were 83% dearer than non-franchised. Warranty Direct points to a rise in the average rate at independent premises, up from £49.61 in 2006 to £63.56 an hour to 2014, whilst main dealers have remained more steady, increasing from £91.07 to £92.11 over the same period.

Meanwhile, the maximum cost of an hour of a garage mechanic’s time has reached an unprecedented new high of £215, 

Overall, the UK’s average labour rate, for main dealer and non-franchised workshops combined, stands at £74.33. 

Of the 67 counties included in the study, London is the most expensive place to fix a car, at an average £91.99 an hour (franchised and non-franchised garages combined).

The highest individual hourly garage labour rate can also be found in the Capital. One franchised workshop in West London was found to be charging £215 an hour, the highest rate ever recorded by Warranty Direct in the 11 years of the study. Two other garages were billing at more than £200 an hour.

The South East dominated the top 10 dearest regions, with Surrey and Middlesex taking second and third positions. Only South Glamorgan in Wales – a county which includes the city of Cardiff – was not a region surrounding London.

The North of England and Scotland made up the majority of the least expensive places to fix your car, with County Antrim in Northern Ireland and Cornwall in the South West completing the most frugal 10.

Warranty Direct managing director, David Gerrans said: ‘While labour rates remain fairly steady, London continues to set new benchmarks for the cost of getting car repairs, with a jaw-dropping rate from one garage that would have many motorists rubbing their eyes in disbelief.

‘The shrinking price difference between main dealers and non-franchised workshops could be due to the increasing popularity of dearer fast-fits and auto centres that seem to be taking business away from less expensive independents, as well as the advent of manufacturer schemes that offer discounts for older cars and help keep the overall franchised rate down.’

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.