UK garage labour rates hits as high as £234 an hour

A survey of 6,000 garages across the UK by automotive service and repair start-up Motoreasy concludes that franchised retailers charge an average of 40 per cent more per hour for labour than their independent workshop rivals.

The highest hourly labour rate of of all outlets was £234 an hour, that was found at a prestige sportscar manufacturer’s dealership in Reading. The cheapest was offered by an independent workshop in Manchester, and it was just £36 per hour.

Overall, in the UK average labour rate, combining main dealers, independent workshops and fast-fit outlets is £67.14 an hour.

As you would expect, franchised workshops are generally more expensive, with an average UK labour rate of £99.03 compared with an independent garage average of £56.91.

According to the survey, the average labour rate for franchise workshops in Belfast is £72.00, independent workshops £58.34, fast fit labour £54.00, with an overall average rate across all three of £59.06 per hour.

It was interesting that 62 per cent of the 2,000 motorists surveyed said they didn’t shop around to get the best price before agreeing to work, while 31 per cent didn’t even check the final bill before paying.

Female motorists were said to be worse than men for not checking what labour rate they are paying, with more than four in five women admitting they didn’t know the hourly cost at their regular garage.

Duncan McClure Fisher, the founder of Motoreasy, which was launched last year to be a concierge-style service for motorists and which operates a national network of approved garages, 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.’

Analysis of 6,000 garages from across the UK found that, on average, Surrey is the most expensive place to have work done to your car, with an average hourly rate of just over £81. At the other end of the scale, Scottish county Selkirkshire has the cheapest average at £49.69.

The list of the top 10 most expensive regions of the UK is dominated by areas in the south with London the second-most expensive place for labour rates behind Surrey. Meanwhile, the list of the 10 cheapest regions features mostly Scottish and Welsh counties, indicating a clear north/south divide.

Franchised workshops are generally more expensive, with an average UK labour rate of £99 compared with an independent garage average of £56, a difference of over 40 per cent.

Despite the ever-increasing cost of service, maintenance and repair work in garages, Motoreasy found that 77 per cent admit they have no idea how much they pay for an hour of labour.

However the UK’s National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) says that the hourly price of a service is not the true way of measuring value. “The franchised dealer network has highly trained skilled engineers who place safety and the quality of service above the hourly cost,” said Sue Robinson, NFDA director. “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 FOC 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. In addition 67 per cent of consumers thought franchised dealers represented good value for money.

Franchised labour rate average by area

Most Expensive
London   £127.16
Middlesex £126.88
Surrey £121.34

Belfast £  72.00

Lowest Rate
Powys £  66.00

Average Rate  £ 99.03

Independent labour rate average by area

Most Expensive
Surrey   £  69.02
London £  68.32
Middlesex  £  66.74

Belfast £  58.34

Lowest Rate
Selkirkshire £  44.58

Average Rate £  56.91

Fast fit labour rate average by area

Most Expensive
Aberdeenshire    £  77.50
Gloucestershire £  77.50
Bedfordshire £  77.50

Belfast £  54.00

Lowest Rate
Belfast £  54.00

Average Rate  £  69.52

Overall average labour rate by area

Most Expensive
Surrey    £  81.07
London £  77.42
Worcestershire £  77.50

Belfast £  59.06

Lowest Rate
Selkirkshire £  49.69

Average Rate  £  67.14

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