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With so many new cars being sold with standard service plans these days, it's easy for buyers to overlook the actual servicing costs that come with many vehicles.
But this is something you certainly want to keep in mind if you're buying used or keeping your new vehicle beyond the service or maintenance plan period.
Now research by RGT Smart has shown that a Mini is the most expensive car to service in South Africa, at an average cost of R602.27 an hour. Second to Mini was Audi, at an average of R583.62 an hour. However, standard maintenance plans mean you shouldn't have to pay these rates for the first three years or 75 000km in a Mini or five years/100 000km in an Audi.
The research looked at passenger vehicle hourly labour rates in South Africa across various brands, vehicle baskets, provinces and metros. Yet as it doesn't include parts pricing, it is not indicative of overall maintenance and repair costs.
The report showed that the Free State was the least expensive province when it came to the labour costs of servicing a vehicle.
Servicing a BMW would cost an average of R580.13 an hour and a Lexus R579.09 an hour.
AND THE CHEAPEST?
The least expensive brand to service was Chana, which averaged at R342.52 an hour, followed by Mahindra at R362.29 an hour.
"Retail labour cost increases amongst brands surveyed have increased on average by 4.1 percent year-on-year," said Paul De Vantier, CEO of RGT Smart.
The report showed that Fiat's retail passenger labour rate had increased the most since 2011, by 16.3 percent. It was followed by Alfa Romeo at 12.2 percent and Citroen at 11 percent.
Brands which had reduced labour rates year-on-year since 2011 included Changan, by -10.5 percent; Subaru, by -5.5 percent; and Daihatsu, by -0.6 percent.
De Vantier said the Gauteng region labour rates on a medium or large-sized vehicle were the most expensive, while labour on a sub-small or entry level vehicle was least expensive.
He said that labour rates in the Western Cape were most expensive on a medium size vehicle and least expensive on sub-one ton vehicles.
"Within the medium-sized vehicle basket, BMW seems to be the most expensive brand to service, while the least expensive brand to service in the medium basket is Volvo."
Northern Cape had the highest year-on-year retail rate, with an increase of 10 percent. It was followed by the North West with 9.5 percent.
The lowest retail rate increase was recorded in the Free State, at 2.8 percent.
De Vantier advised consumers to factor in a brand's servicing rates and dealership footprint when deciding which brand to purchase.
RGT Smart is a provider of market intelligence solutions to the automotive sector. -IOL & Sapa