British drivers love German cars. The UK is the largest EU sales market for German suppliers and Britain is the biggest destination for German car parts.
Although they tend to hold their value compared with cars from other countries, German cars are usually a little more expensive to buy. But what about the running and maintenance costs?
Duffy Motor’s Lee Atkinson believes that times are changing for German motors.
“People used to say, ‘don’t buy a German car – it’s too expensive to run’ but that attitude is changing,” he said.
He continued: “Car manufacturers are so globalised now that prices for serviceable and non-serviceable parts have come down. Non-serviceable items on German cars are probably cheaper than parts for Japanese vehicles, because it can be difficult to get hold of the Japanese items.”
Higher end German cars such as those manufactured by Porsche and, to a lesser extent, Audi, BMW and Mercedes tend to be more expensive than middle of the road vehicles like Volkswagens – which Lee suggests are comparable to Fords and Vauxhalls in terms of maintenance and repair costs.
Getting your car serviced or repaired at a main or franchised dealer tends to be more expensive than visiting an independent garage. This is particularly true for higher end German cars.
There are always many variables with these costs, but a study from Who Can Fix My Car found that independent garages were, on average, 18% cheaper than main dealers.
For relatively simple work, such as MOT and servicing work, independent garages are only slightly cheaper. But for more complex ‘off-the-menu’ work, where more intensive labour is required, it is often significantly cheaper to go with an independent fixer.
Another study from What Car found that German manufacturer franchised fixers were among the worst value for drivers. The 2017 Servicing Satisfaction Survey found that Porsche and Audi drivers were among the least happy with the service from franchised dealerships. Cost was a major factor.
BMW and Mercedes were middle of the road in this regard.
Tips for bringing down maintenance costs
Here are Lee’s top tips for bringing down maintenance costs. These apply to all cars, not just German brands.
- Get your car serviced regularly. A low-cost service each year can identify problems and help you avoid an expensive repair job.
- Avoid cowboys. These can be difficult to spot but you can usually find a good mechanic by reading online reviews, such as those published by the Good Garage Scheme.
- Don’t go for the cheapest price, because you will get the cheapest work.
- Change your oil regularly and make sure you only use oil that’s recommended for your car.
- Check your tyre pressure regularly. Incorrect tyre pressure can cause your tyres to wear very quickly.