A MotorEasy investigation of franchised dealers across the country has revealed consumers aren’t always getting a fair price when it comes to finding out what’s wrong with their car.
Research showed there is a huge variation in prices charged for initial diagnostic work, which often just involves plugging a computer into the car’s electronic system and can take just 30 minutes.
While the check is often free when the car is still under warranty, customers outside warranty face being charged an average of £102** across the 27 manufacturer dealerships checked in our survey. It's quite a jump compared to the average UK garage labour rate of just £67 an hour.*
The most expensive bill found was £180, quoted by dealers for Land Rover, Alfa Romeo, BMW and Jaguar while the cheapest was a Honda dealer who offered a check for free.
Car Repairs: Most Expensive Diagnosis?
On average, Land Rover was the priciest but also the only manufacturer to quote a standard price across different workshops within the dealer network. The best value diagnostic checks were to be found at Honda, with dealers charging an average of just £38.
For some manufacturers, prices for checks vary massively within the same network. The biggest disparity for a diagnostic check was at Toyota with one dealer charging £30 and another quoting £155.
Franchised dealers also disagreed on how long the diagnostic check would take, with some telling MotorEasy researchers it was a simple 30 minute job while others claimed they would keep the car for a full day.
Top 10 Most Expensive Average Diagnostic Check Quotes
For more advice to help save money on car maintenance visit the Lost in Translation hub.
Car Repairs: How Does A Car Diagnosis Work?
Diagnostic checks are carried out by plugging into a car’s on-board computer known as an Engine Control Unit (ECU) to find error codes and faults logged. Warning lights on the dashboard can alert a driver to an issue but a diagnostics check is the only way to fully understand what’s wrong and a potential fix.
"The industry needs to clean up its act to start building trust with owners."
MotorEasy founder, Duncan McClure Fisher, said: “The results of our investigation are further evidence of how difficult dealerships make getting a car serviced and repaired. Not only do they use confusing jargon, there’s no standard pricing that consumers can follow in order to make sure they’re not ripped off.
“There’s a reasonable expectation that the price for a simple diagnostic check should be the same for your car no matter which dealership in the network you visit but sadly that’s not the case. The industry needs to clean up its act to start building trust with owners.”
Head to the Lost in Translation hub for more advice on how to understand mechanics jargon and what to do to get the best price on car repairs.
*MotorEasy garage labour rates study, April 2017
**MotorEasy research conducted June/July 2018 of franchised dealers across the UK