Drivers face £180 bill for simple diagnostic check that can take just 30 minutes

  • Investigation reveals how much dealers are charging owners for a diagnostic check
  • Most expensive quote received was £180 for one hour of labour
  • Research shows huge variation between prices at franchised dealers in same network
  • MotorEasy calling for the end to jargon as part of ‘Lost in Translation’ campaign:
  • Light-hearted campaign includes series of short tongue-in-cheek clips:

Franchised dealers are charging up to £180 for a simple car diagnostic check that can take as little as 30 minutes, according to MotorEasy, the car ownership and maintenance service.

An investigation of franchised dealers across the country revealed consumers aren’t always getting a fair price when it comes to finding out what’s wrong with their cars – the average UK garage labour rate is £67 an hour.[i]

Research showed the huge variation in prices charged for the work, which often just involves plugging a computer into the car’s electronic system.

While the check is often free when the car is still under warranty, customers outside warranty face being charged an average of £102[ii], across all 27 manufacturers checked.

The most expensive bill 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.

On average, Land Rover was the priciest but also the only manufacturer to quote a standard price across 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

1.Land Rover£               180
2.Jaguar£               135
3.Alfa Romeo£               134
4.Toyota£               128
5.Mercedes£               117
6.Mitsubishi£               117
7.BMW£               115
8.Volvo£               114
9.Fiat£               110
10.Kia£               110

The investigation is part of MotorEasy’s ‘Lost in Translation’ campaign that has been launched to save everyday drivers from confusing terminology, unnecessary repairs and untrustworthy service.

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.

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.”

MotorEasy has released a series of tongue-in-cheek videos to show how we just don’t put up with baffling lingo in other trades – and asks why should it be acceptable at garages? What if you waiter was a car mechanic? What if a car mechanic worked at your dental surgery?

Drivers can also book their service or MOT through MotorEasy, allowing one of the firm’s professional technicians to handle the entire process, including negotiating on parts and labour costs and ensuring that no unnecessary work is paid for at:

To receive 5% off manufacturer servicing on the MotorEasy website, use the code: LOST5

Have a repair jargon example, garage frustration or simply a question about your car? Add it to the campaign and put it to the MotorEasy engineers using #lostintranslation.

[i]MotorEasy garage labour rates study, April 2017

[ii]MotorEasy research conducted June/July 2018 of franchised dealers across the UK

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