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Being continually told by car manufacturers that DIY car servicing and repairs aren’t a good idea, Warranty Direct’s annual Labour Rates Survey of nearly 4,250 workshops has revealed the cost of taking your vehicle into the garage – and it doesn’t make pleasant reading for either your wallet or your bank balance.

One of the main points to come out of the survey is that average garage rates have risen to a record of £83 per hour – depending on where you live in the UK, and whether or not you go to a franchised or independent garage. This is over 10% more than two years ago.

And it is that regionalisation that is the biggest problem, with some drivers paying as little as £36.60 per hour and others, like those in Hertfordshire, paying as much as a staggering £201.60 an hour..

Surprisingly enough (or is it, in light of the fight to survive) it is the smaller independent garages that have increased their prices the most in comparison to last year - from £60.68 in 2011 to £64.58 in 2012, meaning a 6.44% rise. But obviously they do not have the marketing power of the franchised workshops, with all the power of the ‘name’ behind them.

But then, main dealers are more expensive; their average hourly rate has risen to £95.94, meaning that main dealers charge 48.6% more on average than independents – although this percentage is down from 57% in 2011.

Using average costs for both franchised and non-franchised garages combined, the average cost for an hour’s labour by a mechanic was calculated to give the following figures.


The most expensive county to get cars fixed in, at an hourly rate of £98.27 is Surrey, meaning that a lot of Manchester United fans won’t be happy! This is a 6.76% increase on last year on average and means that Surrey relegates Middlesex to second place, followed by Hertfordshire and Berkshire. It is no surprise that these areas border London (who are in 5th place) with commuting so prevalent and property so expensive in London itself for garages.


Lucky old drivers in Powys, Wales; they get charged an average of £58.46 for an hour’s time from a ‘skilled’ mechanic.


Hang your heads in shame, garage owners in Cornwall, County Durham and Cheshire as these three regions saw increases of nearly 13%, 12% and 12.5% respectively. I can see Cornwall and County Durham as out-of-town places but Cheshire? Perhaps it’s all the footballers who live there with their ginormous salaries?


It’s time to get the flags out people of East Yorkshire and Pembrokeshire. Did you know that you are benefitting from drops in labour charges of 14.68% and 14.36% respectively? No? I didn’t think so.

Duncan McClure Fisher of Warranty Direct said: “Price hikes continue apace in 2012 and we are now at the point that a simple breakdown could cost an eye watering sum to put right. Some older cars could even be written off by a relatively straightforward mechanical hiccup, especially if you are among the unfortunate group who pay £150 per hour or more. With the cost of petrol and diesel still rocketing, the latest stats will come as a bit of a blow to those expecting rates to have stabilised.

“There is also some evidence that fixed price service deals are being funded by excessive rates for unexpected repairs.”