Mar 282006

43A third of garages inflate the time it takes to carry out a repair according to a new study from independent warranty provider, Warranty Direct.

Of 125 garages knowingly questioned by trained engineers at the warranty company, 41 (33 percent) were willing to charge more than the manufacturer’s official repair times*.

However, this figure jumped to nearly 70 percent when 12 of the garages were subsequently mystery shopped by a member of the public. One quoted 16 hours for a 6-hour job** and with franchised dealer labour rates standing as high as £150 per hour***, the final cost of the inflated repair times can be significant.

On average, the engineer’s research found a 40 percent difference between the quoted and suggested manufacturer repair time. For example, one garage said it would take fifteen hours, as opposed to the advised thirteen, to replace a cylinder head on a Mercedes M Class. At £123 an hour for labour, the cost of the repair rose by nearly £250.

Another quoted 2-hours on a 30-minute job to fix an oil leak. With the failed part costing just £5.23 to replace, the additional labour added £52.50 to the final bill.

“Unfortunately, the consumer does not have access to the repair times,” explained Duncan McClure Fisher of Warranty Direct. “It is further proof of that old adage: ‘shop around’. Consumers have the choice and when you see the differing repair times being quoted, you should be further encouraged to phone around.”

Sample table with consumer enquiring



Franchised   or Independent Garage





Garage   Quoted Hours


 Labour Charge

Ford   Mondeo


Exhaust   valves & cambelt




Audi   A4


Cylinder   Head Gasket




Chrysler   Neon







M   Class


Cylinder   Head




Restrictions on where a car can be serviced or repaired were lifted in 2002 when the EU rules governing the industry were revised. Previously, warranties would become invalid if work was conducted outside the approved network.

“We shop around when we’re looking for a holiday, so why not when servicing or repairing our cars?”, McClure Fisher added.

The Warranty Direct research also follows recent criticism of the slow up-take by the country’s 25,000 garages to the British Standards Institute ‘good standards’ kite mark scheme. Only 3 had been accredited by end of January since its launch five months earlier.*****

The service and repair industry is worth over £9 billion annually according to the Office of Fair Trading.

All the jobs researched were based on real claims from Warranty Direct.