Cape Times

Revealed: What SA car dealers charge for labour

Survey reveals rates vary even within same brand


Ever since service and maintenanc­e contracts became the norm with most vehicles sold in South Africa, newcar owners haven’t generally been too concerned about labour rates and the cost of spare parts.

But it becomes a big deal once the service/maintenanc­e plan expires, and keeping your car in good mechanical nick could burn a really big hole in your pocket.

A recent study into labour rates by Lightstone Consumer lists the industry’s heroes and villains, revealing that some brands charge far more for the expertise of their mechanics than others. More surprising however, is that labour rates can even vary hugely from dealer to dealer within the same brand.

During April 2017, Lightstone Consumer polled the dealership­s of all major automotive manufactur­ers in South Africa. Covered by the survey were the retail labour rate at 897 passenger and light commercial vehicle dealership­s across 37 brands, to find out what they charged for work.

The findings revealed that there can be a huge difference in the labour rates charged; ranging from R300 to R1 000 per hour, depending on vehicle brand or dealer location.

They further found that the most expensive brands to service and maintain are Land Rover, Mini, BMW, Jaguar and Audi while the cheapest are GWM, Cherry, TATA, Foton and Mahindra.

The accompanyi­ng chart shows the lowest, highest and average retail labour rate for each of the passenger and LCV brands in South Africa in 2017.

The main lesson to take from this study is that it pays to shop around by phoning a few dealers for a quote before booking in your car. Or, if you’re in the market to buy a new or second-hand vehicle with no service/maintenanc­e plan, the chart gives a useful snapshot of how various brands will brutalise your budget.

The survey covered only official agents, and it may be a better option to service out-of-warranty vehicles at independen­t workshops where the labour rates are generally cheaper.

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