What Car? Reveals The Great Servicing Rip-Off

Britain’s motorists could save £185 million when it comes to servicing their cars, according to research by What Car?. Owners who have their cars serviced by independent garages will save, on average, over £50 compared to the same service from a franchised dealer - and that’s on a service carried out to manufacturer specifications so as not to invalidate a car’s warranty.

What Car? went undercover to check servicing costs at 200 garages covering cars from five of the top 10 selling manufacturers in the UK: BMW, Citroen, Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen. Servicing quotes were compared from garages in the same area with the service carried out to manufacturer recommendations and using manufacturer-approved parts.

The biggest difference What Car? researchers found was on a Citroen C3 1.4-litre supermini being serviced in Wales. Main dealers charged an average of £266 for a major service, while nearby independents quoted only £125 - a saving of £141. Overall, the research found that Citroen C3 owners would save an average of £68 using independent garages for servicing, followed by BMW 5 Series owners saving £62 on average, Volkswagen Golf owners saving £50 and Ford Mondeo owners saving an average of £49. By contrast, owners of the Toyota RAV4 4x4 would only save an average of £13 by getting their car serviced at an independent garage.

‘A great many owners of new cars still think they have to have their cars serviced at a franchised dealer to keep their warranty intact,’ said Steve Fowler, What Car?’s group editor. ‘That’s not the case - as long as the independent dealer is VAT-registered, carries out the work to manufacturer recommendations using manufacturer-approved parts, the car’s warranty will still be valid. The owners will have saved themselves a few quid in the process.’

A previous What Car? survey revealed that independent garages’ servicing standards are often higher than franchised dealers’ (What Car? November 2004), while What Car? has also revealed in the past how some franchised dealers have given incorrect information about the validity of warranties on cars serviced outside the dealer network.

‘There’s no doubt that having your car serviced at a franchised dealer is the easiest solution, but it’s likely to cost you more,’ said Steve Fowler. ‘Spending a little time finding an independent who’ll carry out the work to the right standard will pay dividends. However, we have also found that franchised dealers are open to negotiation - it’s possible to haggle over the cost of servicing and save money that way!’

7 June 2005 Staff

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