A nasty surprise: This is what you pay when your service plan expires

<i>iStock</i>
<i>iStock</i>

Many brands offer Maintenance or Service Plans and most consumers have little idea what the Retail Labour Rate charged by their dealer is – that is until the maintenance or service plan runs out.

"These reports are of huge value to the motor industry – they allow manufacturers, dealers and fleet managers to compare the relative labour rates between the vehicle brands and even between regions.

Beneficial to the consumer

This ensures that they remain competitive and that’s good for the consumer," says Lightstone Consumer MD Paul De Vantier.

READ: 9 things you should know about vehicle warranties in SA

For the past 10 years Lightstone Consumer has measured and tracked Retail (the rate charged to a customer), Warranty (the rate that the dealer is reimbursed by the manufacturer for warranty work) and the Maintenance Plan (the rate that the dealer is reimbursed by the manufacturer for maintenance plan work) labour rates.

                                                                               Image: iStock

This year the report shows that the labour rates can vary across passenger brands from as little as R300 to as much R1 195 per hour. On average Premium Brands will charge around R810 per hour while Volume Brands average R587.

An expensive job

"This isn’t unexpected. Premium Brands are often packed with advanced technology and the level of expertise needed to maintain and repair these vehicles demands highly skilled technicians, and that can be expensive," comments De Vantier.

The Commercial Vehicle Report reveals that Commercial vehicle labour rates range from an average of R415 to R655 per hour and again there are differences within brands and across regions.

These regional differences are understandable too: "The overheads in running a 600sqm workshop in Sandton are much higher than those for a 400sqm workshop in, say, Vereeniging"

                                                                            Image: iStock

Lightstone Consumer recommend that you shop around and negotiate once a vehicle is no longer covered by a maintenance or service plan.

You should stay with the franchise dealership if you can and at the very least if the car is out of warranty use a brand specialist. Even if it’s slightly more expensive these workshops have the right training and access to specialist tools and parts and that will pay off in the long run.

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