Motorists in the UK could save up to £285m by simply shopping around when they put their car through its first service, according to research by What Car?.
We analysed costs for 10 of the most popular cars in the UK across eight regions and found an average gap of £126 between the cheapest and most expensive first services.
Scottish and Welsh motorists enjoy the cheapest prices in the UK on average (£210 and £217 respectively), while the South East is the most expensive region, with an average cost of £244.
The average cost of a first service for the different regions in the UK were as below:
Wales - £217
North East - £218
West - £223
Midlands - £225
North West - £235
London - £242
South East - £244
The research focused on the top 10 most popular cars on whatcar.com, and analysed the cost of the first service in each case.
In some cases, the difference in costs by region meant that car owners willing to shop around and travel could make significant savings, equivalent to slap-up lunches at a three-star Michelin restaurant, nights in four-star hotels or family days out.
The biggest difference in first-service costs was for the Range Rover 3.0 TDV6 Vogue SE. The cheapest quote was £367 in Edinburgh, while the most expensive was for £587 in Cardiff - a difference of £220.
Emma Butcher, consumer editor of What Car?, said: 'The cost of running a car is often a strain on already stretched household bills. Remember that nearest can also be dearest; just because your local dealer is more convenient doesn’t mean it will be most cost-effective.'
Among the 10 models analysed, even different vehicles built in the same factory, or with the same mechanical underpinnings, generated varying service costs.
The Audi A3, Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf share many components, including engines, but What Car? found that it costs almost two thirds (62%) more on average to service an A3 over an Octavia. In Wales, that increase in cost leapt to 93%.
Emma Butcher said: 'When you buy a car with a premium badge you pay up front on the cost of the car, but it’s worth remembering that the additional outlay is transferred across the life of the car.'
Any questions on servicing or any other car-buying topic can be sent directly to Whatcar.com’s experts via Facebook or Twitter and the #askwhatcar hashtag.