Ford vs Vauxhall vs Volkswagen: The true cost of maintenance
Here at WhoCanFixMyCar.com, over 200,000 drivers have now used us to find a great garage to service or repair their vehicle – requesting everything from new bulbs to full resprays.
The result? We’ve learned a huge amount about the cars, and the drivers, on our roads!
Here we’re comparing three of the best-known brands in the UK. We’ll look at maintenance costs across their best-selling models, and even how these costs change as cars get older. Read on to find out more!
But first: a little more about our car repair data…
Last time around, we compared BMW, Audi and Mercedes’ running costs. We received a number of great questions about our calculations, so this time we’re revealing the facts up front…
In summary: we’re looking at 3 of our top 6 most commonly-repaired brands and, in doing so, we’re analysing precisely 18,608 lines of data! So there’s plenty for us to get our teeth stuck into…
Insight #1: Repair costs by brand
From our analysis, two trends become immediately clear: First, bills vary drastically by repair type – transmission work, for example, comes in at a full 107% pricier than a typical servicing bill (We’ll dig into that shortly).
And secondly, the brands themselves are comparable overall, with just a 10% difference between dearest (Ford) and cheapest (Volkswagen). But what about individual models?
Insight #2: Maintenance bills by best-selling model
It’s all well and good saying that costs are ‘comparable’ across three brands, but there are no less than 101 different VW, Vauxhall and Ford models on our database, from the everyday (2646 Focuses) to the exotic (Lotus Carltons, Mustangs and, um, Cortinas all feature). So we dug deeper: How do repair bills compare by model?
So it’s clear – while estimates by brand are similar, there’s a significant trend: The larger the car, the higher the average cost – 36% higher for a large family car than a supermini, to be precise. But why?
Insight #3: What causes the 36% difference in bills between large and small cars?
Sticking with our nine bestsellers, we wanted to understand what type of work would cause such a discrepancy. We stripped out non-essential repairs (radio upgrades, valeting etc) to find out…
Here the picture becomes a lot clearer: pricing is consistently higher across all categories except ‘Engine and Cooling’ – a collection of under-the-bonnet repairs for which complexity changes little by vehicle.
However, across transmission, brakes and exhausts, electrical work and servicing, the trend is clear: Bigger car, bigger costs.
More expensive parts, more complex vehicles and the higher likelihood of pricy automatic gearbox work all contribute to the difference.
Insight #4: Middle-aged cars, middle-aged problems…
Here at WhoCanFixMyCar.com, drivers of vehicles of all ages use us to find a great garage – our data here includes Capris and Sierras, as well as Vauxhall’s new Cascada – so we’re able to see what happens as vehicles get older…
Here’s where it gets particularly juicy: first up, the likelihood of repairs at a certain age does vary by brand.
Owners of Vauxhalls are most likely to book in when the car is 8-10 years old, with Ford drivers turning to us 2-3 years later.
Repair work in much older cars (15+ yrs) is always less common, with fewer of these vehicles on the road and fewer miles covered, but Volkswagens do conform to the stereotype of longevity – with more of them being regularly maintained via WhoCanFixMyCar.com at that age.
Insight #5: …with repair estimates peaking for 9-year-old cars
Repair frequency is good to know, but means little without knowing how much the work is actually going to cost.
So we also looked at the typical estimates quoted, again split by vehicle age.
Fascinatingly, costs steadily rise to peak at 8-9 years old, as these cars require substantial ‘middle-aged’ maintenance (new clutches, cambelts and the like).
However, from that point on, typical bills actually decline. Vehicles cover fewer miles, and certain faults may be tolerated by their drivers. Plus older models are often simpler to work on, thus requiring less labour time, reducing estimates.
So what have we learned?
The outcome is clear: on average – and perhaps surprisingly – typical costs are a little lower for VW models than they are for Ford and Vauxhall – but this difference is insignificant when comparing across vehicle sizes.
Larger models are 36% more expensive to maintain than their smaller stablemates, across almost all repair types.
Finally, as cars reach ‘middle age’, not only does repair frequency increase, but average repair estimates do too – so, according to our data, a 10-year-old supermini will probably cost more to maintain than a 5-year-old large saloon car.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this article and look forward to hearing what your reactions are in the comments section below!
We’ll be continuing our research and delivering further exclusive insights in 2016 so make sure you stay posted.