In the first of a regular series, WhoCanFixMyCar.com compares the three German premium brands: BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
WhoCanFixMyCar.com works with almost 5,000 UK garages helping around 4,000 drivers repair and maintain their vehicles every month, with a total of 46,000 jobs completed.
It compares brands, repair types and workshops, and it is here providing the first in a series of data insights.
Audis cost more to maintain - 15% more than the Audi/Mercedes-Benz/BMW average
Alex Rose, WCFMC marketing director, said: “We compared the quotes received for comparable repair types across these three brands, and Audi came out the dearest. BMW sat a little above Mercedes, but still 19% below Audi.
“While it’s not great news for the Ingolstadt-based brand, this top-level view is an over-simplification. We wanted to get under the skin of this trend and understand what causes the difference. Is it, for example, a particular repair type or model that does the damage? We recut our data (more than 10,000 lines) to uncover the answer."
A consistent trend, but clearest on A4 models
While the absolute numbers differ, the trend remains: whether it’s an A3, an A4 or an A6, average repair estimates on an Audi remained highest - with the largest difference apparent when comparing C-Class and A4 repair quotes.
Again, WCFMC looked at what was behind this trend and, in doing so, decided to compare numbers by repair type.
More complex work causes Audi bills to increase
When it comes to routine work (servicing, or wear parts such as brakes and exhausts), estimates across all three brands are comparable. Indeed, Audi quotes are marginally cheapest for brakes and exhausts. Reassuring news for Audi drivers as this is the most commonly-performed work. However the differences open up when the work becomes more complex.
The biggest variation occurs when comparing transmission work. Cambelt changes also showed the same trend, as well as requests for ‘engine parts’ - a broad category of repairs typically requiring more ‘involved’ work.
So is it gloomy news for owners (and prospective owners) of every Audi out there?
“This ‘heavier’ work (involving transmissions and complex engine repairs) doesn’t come around as often as routine servicing and maintenance.”
Next, WCFMC looked at how garage visits evolve as cars get older.
Audi repair work comes when the cars are a little ‘younger’, Mercedes work peaks when a car’s age is in double-figures
"Here, we’re reviewing total jobs posted by brand, normalised to 100 and split by year.
"In other words, we’re not looking at overall reliability or costs, but rather at what age the garage visits took place. While it may be a cliche, it really does seem that Mercedes cars ‘go on for longer’, with repairs most likely in 11-year-old cars. It seems all those taxi drivers the world over are onto something.
"Conversely, the majority of Audi repairs take place when the cars are five-10 years old, with BMW somewhere in between. Interestingly, we see the ‘tailing off’ at 12+ years across all brands (not just these three).
"These cars begin to cover fewer annual miles, operating as second cars or local runarounds, plus their owners are happier to live with the smaller quirks and issues that would tend to be put right in a newer car."
Having reviewed more than 10,000 rows of data, WCFMC concludes Audis do cost more to maintain than their premium German stablemates, driven by dearer major work, which tends to occur when the car is a little newer, possibly because the work involved is more complex.
Mercedes, meanwhile, are inclined to last a while longer before the ‘compulsory pitstops’ really kick in.
The above data was taken from 80% independents, 10% franchised and 10% fast-fit.
Note on methodology: In this instance non-maintenance jobs, such as crash repairs, resprays and modifications, were removed from the analysis and focused purely on mechanical and electrical work.
A minimum and maximum-quote threshold was set, in order to discount any obvious outliers.
WhoCanFixMyCar.com runs its analyses using its own dataset. It does not claim this is an exact representation of the UK vehicle parc.
For further information email Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.
> Later this month WCFMC will compare major volume models, the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra and break down garage type into franchised, independent and fast-fit.