In the face of spiralling fuel and insurance costs, as well as the ever changing rules surrounding vehicle road tax, motorists may be surprised to hear that labour rates for car maintenance have actually fallen over the last year.
The average hourly rate is now £74.70, some £8.18 less than it was this time last year, according to research conducted by Warranty Direct.
The fall has been attributed to car manufacturers becoming increasingly competitive and offering discounts and fixed price service plans.
A change in the law has also allowed independent garages to increase their business, with main dealers forced to share the computer software needed to diagnose and repair problems with the hi-tech systems found on modern cars.
Cars themselves are getting more robust, with extended service intervals meaning drivers are shelling out less each year.
“It appears, for the first time, that consumers are starting to win the price war as labour rates finally start to fall across the UK,'' said Duncan McClure Fisher, Warranty Direct’s managing director.
"We’ve seen almost a decade of spiralling costs to keep a car on the road and it’s good to see dealers competing more on pricing.
“Service clubs, servicing plans, fixed priced servicing and scheduled servicing bundles are being increasingly used by manufacturers and dealers to attract and retain customers. At the same time, consumers are getting smarter and learning how to shop around for better deals.”
However, despite the drop in average costs, franchised dealers remain the most expensive option for getting a car serviced, with the most expensive charging £200.40 an hour in labour alone, according to Warranty Direct.
There are also significant regional differences in labour rates. London tops the list, with an average charge of £89.33 for an hour’s work. Following close behind is Surrey and Hertfordshire at £84.39 and £83.72 respectively.
At the other end of the scale, the cheapest place to get work carried out on a car is Angus, with motorists paying an average of £62.04 in labour rates.
Do you pay a premium to have your car maintained by a franchised dealer? Do you think you receive a better service than you would from an independent garage? Have your say below.