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Cost of car servicing falls at last

Hard-pressed motorists have seen continued hikes in fuel prices but now it seems there may be some good news on motoring costs. New figures have revealed that the price of getting the car serviced has fallen by around 10% over the past year. The survey by Warranty Direct suggests that the main factor in the drop is a reduction in the hourly labour charge.

Hard-pressed motorists have seen continued hikes in fuel prices but now it seems there may be some good news on motoring costs. New figures have revealed that the price of getting the car serviced has fallen by around 10% over the past year. The survey by Warranty Direct suggests that the main factor in the drop is a reduction in the hourly labour charge. The average hourly rate has dropped £8.18 to £74.70 in the last 12 months. Further factors include smaller independent garages competing with each other for business and main franchise dealers offering fixed price services.

Warranty Direct managing director, Duncan McClure Fisher, commented: "From this year's results, 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. 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."

The rapid spread of computers in cars had also had an effect on service pricing. Such computerised systems could only be accessed by franchised dealers but new laws have forced manufacturers to make this information available to independent garages. These advances have been welcome but some garages are still charging exorbitant hourly labour rates for car servicing. The most expensive recorded by the survey was £200.40. Unsurprisingly, the survey shows some pronounced price differences across the country, with London recording the highest hourly rates. The average charge in the capital was £89.33, while the county of Angus in northeast Scotland was the cheapest at £62.04.

The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) commented: ''There is a lot more competition, which is why the price is coming down. Drivers are also benefiting from longer service intervals and garages bundling in MoT tests with the service.''

English motorists are hit hardest by labour charges, with all ten of the top ten regions for charges being in England. In contrast, only Cornwall appears in the ten cheapest regions. Of these ten cheapest regions, five are in Scotland, three are in Wales and one in Northern Ireland. Sadly, DIY servicing still seems to be on the decline, with many motorists being put off by complex, computerised and electronic systems and the need for specialist equipment.

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