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Motorists seeing up to 90% increased car servicing costs as prices rise

Increased car servicing costs are becoming more apparent, as motorists are reporting big rises in the price of car parts, repairs and maintenance. Many suppliers and garages are having to increase prices due to rising costs of raw materials, manufacturing and energy.

Some drivers are reporting increases in servicing costs of as much as 90%, according to The Guardian. Others highlighted that parts are becoming more difficult to come by, and are more expensive when they are. 

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the cost of running and maintaining personal transport has increased by 15% compared with 12-months ago. The newspaper points out this is above the overall inflation rate in the UK of 10.1%. However, manufacturing, energy and import costs all have a bearing on parts, while garage businesses are seeing increased energy prices, and a need to help staff with the increasing costs of living. this is leading to increased car servicing costs.

“We are unquestionably seeing the cost of vehicle parts rise as a result of rising inflation and increased transportation costs,” the RAC’s head of technical, James Gibson, told The Guardian.

“A huge number of car components are affected by the hike in global material prices, whether that’s steel that goes into a set of coil springs, or oil that goes into the engine, or the manufacture of tyres.s

Motorists highlight increased car servicing costs

The newspaper spoke to two drivers about their recent experiences in having their vehicles maintained and finding increased servicing costs. 

Vince Gallucci, said he “would not have balked” at a 25% year-on-year increase for his annual car service due to the rise in inflation. However, he experienced a 90% increase in the servicing price at his Volvo dealership, from £268 last year to £510. He was told this is a standard rise across the market and in line with other premium dealerships. 

The car had 15,000 miles on the clock and it was the second routine service, with no faults or problems outstanding.

Gallucci said he would not be going back. “It is on me for not choosing to go outside the dealership chain, but that won’t be happening again,” he told the newspaper. “I reluctantly agreed as it is still within its new car warranty period and I don’t want to affect that from a future sell-on perspective. Once out of warranty, I will be less inclined to offer them my loyalty as well, so maybe it is a bit shortsighted on Volvo’s part.”

These comments highlight that motorists are still unaware that they can choose to have their vehicle serviced independently from a dealership without affecting the warranty, which could save them money in the long run. 

Robert Hackett, a civil servant in Chester, has been servicing his car at the same garage for 23 years. When he took his vehicle in last month, he expected to pay between £300 and £400 for a service, four brake pads and a brake disc. He was shocked when his bill came to £880. “I know they’re not price-gouging – the owner is a very decent man,” he said. “They laid out the brake disc for me to see that it was beyond repair.”

Looking over an itemised bill, Hackett says a large part of the servicing costs increase has been due to the service element jumping from £179 two years ago to £340 this September. “I understand from the owner that they’re having problems retaining staff who are being poached by others able to offer higher wages – it is a constant battle.”

Garage responds to price rises

Tyre-garage owner Kevin Ecclestone told The Guardian that price rises were caused by a range of factors including increasing costs for products, labour and energy plus higher importing surcharges.

This is backed up by a recent Motor Ombudsman report that highlighted how garages will need to increase servicing costs due to increasing business-related prices including electricity and wages.

“We are lucky, several local garages have closed due to the economic conditions,” Ecclestone, said. “COVID-19 has had an impact on production in China, because supply is down. Transport costs are a big issue – before Covid, it was $2,000 to get a container shipped from Asia – at one point [in late 2020] it was almost $20,000.”

Budget tyres sold by the garage are also rising in price, with Ecclestone stating that less than 12 months ago the cheapest option they offered was £45, while today the same stock costs £60.

The garage’s energy costs have skyrocketed, too: from £150 for electricity in January to £910 in September.

Ecclestone told the newspaper that his customers understand he isn’t price-gouging. “People accept the price of materials is rising. We are not profiteering – margins are small and we will struggle to maintain profits. Everyone is saying the same: are you increasing prices quickly enough to ensure the survival of the business.” 

He added that his garage is also paying back £1,000 a month in government COVID-19 loan repayments.

Editor’s thoughts

As prices rise across the board, it is important for garages to be open and transparent on prices, especially with regular customers who are more likely to see large price increases. By offering to break down the costs of parts, and explain that operational costs have risen, and these need to be factored in, drivers will feel more understanding, and likely to return.

It is also clear from comments made to The Guardian that some drivers still do not realise they can have new cars, still under warranty, serviced at independent garages. This is a more difficult issue to solve. These drivers are unlikely to come to your business, and a dealership is not going to mention it. The UK’s aftermarket organisations are working to increase awareness through press coverage, but it is a battle that is ongoing.

However, word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, so mentioning this fact to customers, who may mention it to others who have just bought a new car, could turn the tide. After all, the opportunity to save money on motoring in this climate is one that cannot be passed over. 

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