Our research uncovered massive variations in the price of a car service depending on where you live in the UK. And we found you can save hundreds of pounds simply by shopping around local garages.
We all know that a pint of beer is cheaper in Liverpool than London. Or that a three-bedroom semi is pricier in Guildford than Glasgow.
Nonetheless, when we mystery-shopped 650 garages in the UK’s 50 most populous cities, we were surprised at the huge range of prices quoted. For a 10,000-mile annual service on a three-year-old Ford Focus 1.6 petrol, costs ranged from £60 to a whopping £360.
Cheapest regions for car servicing
Northern Ireland was the cheapest region, with an average price of £123. Indeed, the highest price we were quoted in NI (£185) was still less than the average price of £186 in London and the south-east – the most expensive region.
In terms of individual cities, the top three cheapest were Belfast (£123), Sunderland (£129) and Liverpool (£132). Propping up the other end of the table were Reading (£227), Luton (£214) and London (£207).
However, the Scottish cities of Aberdeen (£200) and Edinburgh (£195) aren’t far off the bottom either, giving lie to the traditional notion of a north-south divide.
Shop around and save
‘That’s all well and good, Which?’, you’re probably thinking, ‘but I’m not going to spend eight hours on the Birkenhead-to-Belfast ferry just to get my car serviced’.
Fortunately, you may also save hundreds of pounds simply by shopping around in your home town. In Luton, for example, the difference between the highest and lowest quotes was an astonishing £230. Other cities with dramatic differences included Middleborough (£229), Reading (£215) and York (£211).
Finally, don’t assume that taking your car to a franchised dealer will automatically cost more. The average price charged by Ford dealers in the cities we surveyed was £220 – less than many independent garages.
The website-driven price-comparison culture that pervades sectors like supermarkets and insurance clearly hasn’t made it to garages yet. Perhaps it’s time it did.
Until it does, be sure to do your own personal price comparison before your car is serviced. And don’t be afraid to haggle if your local garage costs more.
What’s the most, and least, you’ve paid to get your car serviced?