UK’s garage labour rates revealed

Hourly charges vary from £36 at a Manchester independent to £234 at a Reading main dealer

UK’s garage labour rates revealed
The average franchised workshop charge is £99 an hour, compared to £56 an hour for an independent. Image: Bigstock.

Research by Motoreasy, which investigated more than 6,000 garages across the UK, showed that main dealers are typically charging 40 per cent more than their independent counterparts.

Some main dealers were found to charge more than £200 an hour, with a Porsche dealer in Reading charging the most at £234 an hour.

The cheapest was offered by an independent in Manchester, at just £36 an hour.

Surrey was found to be the most expensive place for car repairs, with an average labour charge of £84 an hour – that’s 25 per cent more than the UK average.

Regional differences

The list of the top ten most expensive regions of the UK also lists London garages with an average labour rate of £77.42 an hour, followed by Worcestershire (£77.16), Berkshire (£76.77) and Buckinghamshire (£76.65).

The study also found that more than three quarters of motorists admit that they have no idea how much they pay for an hour of labour.

More than three in five say they don’t shop around to get the best price before agreeing to work and nearly a third say they don’t check the final bill before paying.

Female motorists are worse than men for not checking what labour rate they are paying, with more than four in five women admitting they don’t know the hourly cost at their regular garage.

What is your hourly labour rate? Do you feel the independent sector should be charging more for labour or are you concerned about losing customers? Share your comments and concerns below.

27 Comments

  1. We are an independent garage in Milton Keynes and we charge 50.00 an hour.

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    • im an independent one man band based in wales low overheads small garage. i usualy charge per job based on work involved and parts but an average labour rate is £40 per hour. im not vat registered .

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  2. We have a 2 tier labour system at my garage. £49+vat for everyday ‘normal’ cars and £59+vat for more specialist cars/work

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  3. We are an independent garage in Bridgwater, we charge £48.00 an hour, our accountant tells us we should be charging more but we are afraid of losing custom.

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  4. We are an independent garage in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire and our labour rate is £35+VAT per hour. Some of our customers still say that we are too expensive. Seems from reading this article that we are one of the cheapest. May need to have a re-think on our pricing structure.

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    • Your miles to cheap, completely under selling your skill set, we charge £65 per hour and haven’t lost any customers

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  5. We’re an independent specialist garage/bodyshop from South Ayrshire and we charge £40+vat for mechanical work and use book figures for times to keep things fair. Specialist/custom work differs naturally. We still get the odd customer saying our standard labour rate is expensive however!

    We should really be charging slightly more to keep in line with the trade, but we also believe that would end up hurting us in the long run as it would discourage new customers from coming in the door and potentially deterring current customers from returning.

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  6. We have found over the years that every time we increase rates nobody notices. An increase of £10 per hour will increase the average job price by £12.50 and will rarely be noticed. More important is the actual charge made. We charge £80 and charge £40 for fitting (most) front brake pads. A local competitor claims to charge £64 per hour and charges £60 for the same job.

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  7. We are in Oxfordshire and are £65 per hour.
    You really do need to sit with an accountant or business advisor and look at what your costs are to be open each hour (don’t forget to budget for replacing equipment and for training), then look at what you want to be paid each hour to make it worth your while (don’t forget your pension/retirement fund). Too many people in this trade just price themselves based on what others charge around them. If you are good at what you do you will be busy – being cheap is no guarantee of gaining work. We were cheap when we first opened, found we just got customers looking for cheap jobs on old cars which always ended up being hassle with little profit. Some good advice that looked expensive at the time has paid dividends in the long-term. It is all too easy to be a busy fool…

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    • Couldn’t agree more, we did and now do exactly the same, we also charge £96 inc vat for a diagnostic consolation

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  8. We are a large independent in West Kent and our hourly labour rate increased in March from £81.60 inc VAT to £90 inc VAT per hour. That’s an increase of just over 10% and we can say in the short time that it has been implemented, so far it has not affected sales. In fact, it seems busier, but that is probably attributable to our now increased motivation to justify the higher labour rate by providing a greater service and highlighting why people should use us. We feel that most independent garages actually under-value their own services and charge far too littl per hour, because they fear loosing business or not attracting new customers. However, we will argue until the cows come home that in this industry the real trick is so simple; provide a great service and you will end up with satisfied customers who will no matter what pay what it takes to use your company. Do this time and time again and you will not need to be cut-throat aggressive with your pricing strategy, forever trying to under-cut competition. At the end of the day, garages should remember that no one wins a price-war, not even the customer, as generally customers get sub-standard service and below par work. So to summarise, put your prices up, but make sure you raise your game to justify it.

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  9. We are a independent MOT repair garage Norfolk, we charge £38 ph which is not enough, we are sick of customers bringing in cars that are never serviced or looked after and complain of the bill also garages whom are offering MOT’s at a heavy discount rate in Norwich some are charging £20, being an owner operator the MOT rate l was always told was the average hourly charge in the UK – too many idiots doing shoddy repairs in there back gardens then when they mess up want us to sort the shoddy work out free.

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  10. We are based in newport Gwent and charge £50 per hour with a large amount of fixed price work. There are lots of local “garages” who either charge cash no vat, underquote jobs and then hike the final price and lots more who pay well below minimum wage to foreign mechanics and those claiming benifits. What one should realise is that the market will not stand big price rises due to all the undercutting by unfair means but at the same time legitimate garages are having to pay more on government payments, purchase of new tooling and diagnostic devices as well as training, pension funds and making a profit. I would love to increase our labour rate by 10% . The only way I can see this happening is if the DWP, Local Authorities,Revenue and Customs and other such bodies get together and clamp down on the Cowboys, lets make a start by licensing all garages and make it illegal to carry out repairs that may affect the safety of a car like brakes ,steering etc.

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  11. We are a quality VW Audi independent specialist with heavy emphasis on investment training and equipment in Dorset. We charge £55 + vat and our accountant tells us our expense versus return is too low and suggested it should be £65!
    I’m afraid of losing customers where loyalty is always based on budget.

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  12. I run an independent garage in Paisley my labour rate is determined and calculated by my overheads with a small margin of it being profit. With the increase in technology and the upkeep of diagnostic equipment, training etc I would say that my labour rate is cheap, maybe not compared to other garages around my area but we can’t just price our labour based on other local garages. I charge £45+vat per hour and £50+vat per hour for diagnostics. My opinion by the level of work carried out and the cost of keeping the workshop up to date with training and diagnostic updates I feel that £50+ vat per hour for routine work and £60 +vat for diagnostic should be my labour rate. As most garage owners who take them selfs seriously in the trade would probably agree on these labour rates but at the same time are scared to increase to this level due to the competition in the area. My opinion on this labour rate charged by garages shouldn’t need to be justified if they are professionals about their business. my concern is that the garages who are worth this labour rate are being shot down by the garages that don’t care and are just parts changers with no due care or attention to the work they produce nor interested in further training or investment in their garage along with cheap parts incorrect oil spec being used etc. To eradicate these types of garages or to let the garages that are professional and care about the work the produce the government should step in and license workshops accordingly this way labour rates can be justified by level of experience, knowledge and training technicians have, pretty much eliminating the Cowboys in the trade. Our trade is ruined by cowboy outfits with cheap Mot prices and wrongly diagnosed vehicles and it impacts all garages regardless of their reputation or quality. This has a vital impact on our labour rates and prices we quote customers plus the cheap parts that plague this trade.

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  13. We charge 50 plus vat in bridgend South Wales
    This should be sent to the warranty company’s as there labor rate is astonishing and they keep saying it’s national average

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  14. I agree with the above comments, as an industry we constantly under value our worth. You cant get a washing machine fixed for what most of us charge an hour and look at the equipment and data we need to have, let alone the different tooling required for almost every car on the road. For example we can spend thousands of pounds on tools for belt and chain timing and you can almost guarantee that within 3 years most of it will never be touched again, and the next car that comes through the door will need another new piece or addition!

    No other profession is like the Motor trade and yet we are constantly targeted by consumer groups and the such like as villains and thieves. I grant there are a few out there but most of us just want to be paid a fair price for doing a fair job.

    Most of my technicians have studied for at least 5 years and continue to do so with extra training. You can become a GP in 7 years!

    Its time we took a good look at ourselves and valued our services accordingly.

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  15. In Middlesbrough we charge £ 35.00 per hour, we do a lot of fleet work, and fleet companies argue at paying £35.00.

    The problem with the motor trade is it is too easy to buy a van and say you are a mechanic, botch up work and give the good garages a bad name.

    Too many good garage schemes that don’t rely on quality garages, just how much you will buy from them and needlessly put products into customers cars.

    The motoring organisations are now charging a fee for taking vehicles into approved garages, not only making money on memberships, but from the garages trying to stay in business.

    Something needs to change.

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  16. I’m in Mid Devon and charge £38+VAT per hour. I do believe that’s a bit cheap but as it is I get the odd customer saying “I wish I earned £38 an hour”. I always reply that so do I but the fact is that the average customer gets his weekly wage and has no idea of the term overheads! They don’t think about rates, electricity, insurance, training and so on and so on. Even running two customer loan cars is a cost and we only charge for the fuel used, nothing for maintenance or depreciation. Even my subscriptions for data and diagnostics cost me over £2,000 a year.
    And yet, local jobbing builders charge £20 and hour (some with, some without VAT) and their only costs are running an old van which is barely (at best!) fit to be on the road and a few hand tools and using skills they learned many years ago and haven’t improved since. So it’s a fact they’re making more per hour than I am.
    But one thing which stops me putting my rate up is book times. Now the average age of cars I get in (according to my MOT stats) is 14 years old. Now after that sort of time on Devon roads covered in mud and cow s*** book times are something of a distant dream when you come to actually work on them! So I charge the time I take, no more and no less. In short I probably am too cheap for the level of service I offer but I’m happy with it and my customers seem to be as well, even the few that moan still come back, as I work six full days a week and about half the time that goes to seven days.

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    • Hi Peter, Where are you?

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  17. We are a independent in Exeter and we charge £60 + VAT per hour. we increased our labour rate last year by £ 10 per hour and found no loss in business from our usual customers

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  18. Surely the hourly labour charge is reflective of the overheads a garage has. I doubt that main dealers allocate their overheads to specific dept. e.g. new sales, second hand sales, repairs, parts, etc. so I guess variables such as labour costs carry a hefty premium so this is why small garages/workshops can charge less. If they charge higher amounts then they are worse than main dealers in ripping their customers off. Not saying main dealers have the right to charge excessive rates, just looking for an explanation.

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  19. We are an independent garage/MOTcentre in North Kent and charge £60 + VAT per hour labour which we feel is fair for the service we are providing, and to cover the numerous overheads as mentioned by others. Yes we know that there are garages who rip people off but basically, customers have created much of the current situation themselves; they like to diagnose their own faults via the internet, provide their own parts and ring round many garages for labour cost quotes until they find the cheapest, so how are we supposed to make a living ? Other people think that if they just turn up without having booked their car in, you will either do something for nothing for them or they will pick your brains so that someone else can do it for them. Why are people so averse to spending any money on their cars?
    The price of an MOT is definitely a sore point and something needs to be done here to regulate the situation. We have always charged the correct price ourselves so that the customer knows the genuine outcome of their MOT but many people just don’t want to understand, feel they are being ripped off and end up paying a fortune for unnecessary repairs somewhere else. Again, this is lack of awareness on the customer’s part but gives garages a bad name. This practice of cut price MOTs needs to be stamped out and it’s time that good, honest garages and MOT centres are recognised for their true value.

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    • Are you kidding? Most people earn between 8 to 15 per hour working which means your Labour charge is equivalent to a surgeon. As for the overcharges that’s your choice. Regarding what you give mechanics out of that Labour rate it certainly isn’t the full whack and probably a quarter. Plus you have a large mark up on materials and parts.

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  20. No matter how hard we try to make a living by being honest, we are always the easy target, due to so many poor garages, too many rip off garages, to many schemes putting needless additives into vehicles, too many companies offering work for commission.

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  21. too expensive, i live in harlow,essex and my local independent garage charges £88 p/hour, that is the norm around here, peugeot main dealer is around £120 p/hour, wish i paid £40 odd per hour, your customers are very lucky

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  22. Sounds like cheek is required, just heard of a local Volvo dealer charging £450 for changing a set of rear disks and pads, parts bill say£50. Adds up to about £195/ hour. Wish I could earn that rate! Apparently the official time allowed is between 1.5 and 2 hours. Took me more like half an hour last time I did a set. Who is fooling who?

    Reply

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