Dealers are charging as much as £1,248 just to supply and fit a new battery on an ordinary family car, a new investigation by Auto Express has revealed.
Massive variations in the prices different dealers demand for the same work were also revealed in the mystery shopping exercise comparing the cost of new batteries for Britain’s 20 best-selling vehicles.
Some Mercedes dealers charge up to three times as much as others for the same job, with C-Class owners stumping up as much as £1,248 for a battery replacement when they could get the job done for £315 elsewhere within the same network.
Investigators from Auto Express posed as customers* to ask franchise dealer service departments for quotes to supply and fit a new battery on Britain’s 20 most popular models.
However, the problem isn’t confined to premium brands, with Vauxhall dealers also providing massively different quotes for the same customer request.
Auto Express reporters were quoted as little as £98.46 to replace the battery on a Mokka X, at one Vauxhall dealership, but as much as £262.80 at another Vauxhall dealer – a price difference of 167%.
Volkswagen dealers also showed similar variations in pricing. On a Volkswagen Tiguan, battery replacement costs ranged from £190.66 to £320.66 – a variation of more than 68%.
The fairest and most consistent pricing was found across the Toyota network, where every dealer offered a price of £105 to replace the battery on a Yaris.
Vauxhall Astra customers also fared better than those wanting to replace a Mokka X battery, with the second most consistent range of quotations in the entire investigation. Here, there was a difference between dealers of just £1.60 from the top price of £136, to the lowest of £134.40.
Jonathan Burn, who led the study, 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.
“Our advice to motorists is to get several quotes from franchised dealers, and also to consider using a reputable independent service provider, such as Halfords, where we were quoted just £165 for replacing the Mercedes battery.”