Motorists are being warned to shop around rather than go direct to a dealer for relatively straightforward car parts after an investigation found that some are charging staggering amounts to simply supply and fit a new battery.
One Mercedes dealer wanted to charge a mystery shopper a jaw-dropping £1,250 for a battery on their £30,000 C-Class family saloon, the study uncovered.
Dealers were asked to provide a quote to replace a battery on Britain’s 20 best-selling models and found a huge fluctuation in prices, with differences of over £900 for dealers that are part of the same car brand’s network.
How much? An investigation found that franchised dealers are charging varying prices to supply and fit a battery for the same vehicle, despite all being part of the same brand network
Three franchised dealers (ones that exclusively supply and service that one particular car brand) for each of the 20 vehicles were contacted by Auto Express to get a quote for a new battery and its installation.
Having already been quoted £1,248 by one Mercedes dealer, another dealership’s service department that was also part of the German brand’s network quoted a fee of £315 for the exact same job.
And it wasn’t just German premium brands that was found to be ripping off customers with extortionate charges for relatively uncomplicated work.
A battery replacement typically should take no more than half an hour, and Halfords charges just £15 to fit a ‘standard’ battery
Three franchised dealers (ones that supply and service one car brand) were contacted for each of the 20 best-selling models in the UK. One Mercedes service department wanted almost £1,250 to replace a battery for a £30,000 Mercedes C-Class, while another quoted £315 for the same work
Vauxhall dealers also provided massively different quotes for the same customer request for a new battery and fitting.
Mystery shoppers were quoted as little as £98 to replace the battery on a Mokka X SUV at one of the brand’s dealerships, but as much as £263 at another – a price difference of £65.
Volkswagen dealers also showed similar variations in pricing.
On a Volkswagen Tiguan, battery replacement costs ranged from £191 to £321 – a variation of £130.
Vauxhall dealers also provided massively different quotes for the same customer request for a new battery and fitting, the Auto Express investigation found
On a Volkswagen Tiguan, battery replacement costs ranged from £191 to £321 – a variation of £130
Fitting a new battery to an ordinary car should take no longer than half an hour, especially for a franchised service department that is repeatedly working on the same models.
Halfords charges a flat rate of £15 to fit a ‘standard’ car battery.
However, labour costs for a higher grade AGM and EFB batteries start from £25.
When Auto Express contacted the parts retailer, it was quoted £165 for replacing the Mercedes battery – which is a whopping £1,083 less than the most expensive dealer and almost half what the cheapest franchised Mercedes service department demanded.
The fairest and most consistent pricing was found across the Toyota network.
Investigators were quoted the same price of £105 by all three dealers to replace the battery on a Yaris supermini.
Toyota dealers’ prices were the most consistent. All three franchised service departments quoted the same fee of £105 for the supply and fitting of a Yaris battery
Jonathan Burn, who led the study on behalf of the motoring title, said: ‘The problem for motorists is that the retail price of car parts is unregulated and therefore there is little transparency or consistency in parts pricing, even within the same dealer networks.
‘When we challenged Mercedes on the staggering charge of £1,248 quoted by one of their dealers, it told us it could only recommend a price, which means there can be variation between dealers.
‘But it is difficult to imagine how a Mercedes dealer can justify such a price, when we were quoted £392.57 as the worst case battery replacement cost for an equivalent BMW 320i with the cheapest option undercutting Mercedes, too, at £296.98.’
Auto Express advises drivers to get several quotes from franchised dealers, and also consider using a reputable independent service provider if they think they are being overcharged.
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