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How much to change a lightbulb?

17 February 2006

  • Servicing can cost more than £100 per hour
  • Cheaper to employ a barrister than a mechanic
  • £66 to change a lightbulb

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A What Car? investigation into car servicing costs at 200 UK dealers shows it can be cheaper to employ a barrister or a doctor than a mechanic.

The survey reveals that consumers are frequently paying more than £100 per hour for labour at franchised dealers.

Hourly rates vary across the country, from £49 for Vauxhall Scotland to £140 for BMW in London. A locum doctor charging between £350 and £500 per day is cheaper. Even a criminal law junior barrister will charge as little as £30 per hour.

What Car? group editor Steve Fowler said: 'Consumers could save hundreds of pounds if they shop around and do their research. Quite simply, dealership labour rates for repairs are just too high.'

What Car? researchers discovered that advances in technology have made previously-simple jobs fiddly and time-consuming, and it's the car owners who are bearing the financial brunt. Replacing a main-beam bulb on an Audi A2 can cost as much as £66. - with the bulb costing just £3.96.

'The What Car? research clearly highlights that there are huge price differences across the country. There are so many options available to consumers; they need to consider franchised, non-franchised dealers, local or not so local.

'One option I will be considering is to book my car in at the cheapest garage, even if I have to travel to it - the savings I can make will pay for a night in a hotel and a decent meal,' said Fowler.

Consumers should also be aware that they can use non-franchised dealers and still keep their warranty. To protect the manufacturer warranty the service provider must be VAT-registered and follow the recommended schedule of work.

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