How much does your car dealership charge to change a lightbulb?

lightbulbQ: How many pedants does it take to change a lightbulb? A: None. They replace one. However, when a headlight bulb goes on your car, with all these shiny new headlight units you might be at a loss as to how to replace it yourself and you might need help doing so. But how much does it cost to change a lightbulb? Car magazine Autoexpress decided to investigate this very question, and found massive variations in charge, with some charging over £70 in some cases. They also found out which marque of car dealership was most helpful in answering telephone queries.

What is, perhaps, not surprising is that most dealerships charged to replace a lightbulb, and the average variance in price between dealers on the same car was around £20. However, what is a welcome surprise is that some offered free labour, and some offered a free bulb, while yet others charged exorbitant fees for a tiny bulb  of over £70.

Auto Express picked 50 of the most popular cars in the UK and anonymously contacted three dealers across the country for each model, enquiring how much a new headlight bulb would cost, and how much they’d charge to fit it. The Nissan Qashqai returned the biggest disparity of £44.60, with prices starting at £5.40, rising to £15.39 and peaking at £50. In second place came the Renault Captur, where one garage offered to supply and fit a new light bulb for free, while another wanted £40.. The Mazda 3 returned the third biggest disparity of our trio, as well as providing the single highest quote for changing a bulb, a massive £71.99.

With some headlamp units harder to access and bulb costs varying, it’s unfair to directly compare models, but the average price of the bulbs plus labour was £22.77.

So if those were the most disparate quotes, which were the most consistent? Good old Volkswagen was the most consistent with all nine dealers contacted  – for the Polo, Golf and Passat – quoting the exact same amount: £16.40. The next best was Skoda, which had a variation of £1 (£15 to £16) between its three dealers for the Yeti. Volvo came in third, with dealers quoting between £10.08 and £15 – all with free fitting – for the XC90. Skoda and Volkswagen, were the most helpful in dealing with the enquiries over the phone.

However Autoexpress say their research highlighted the varying levels of customer service provided by different dealers, with premium brands being, on the whole, the worst performers for phone manner. Audi and BMW dealers were so premium, they wouldn’t even offer an estimate without exact number plate, ownership, and inside leg measurement details.

Of course, this whole exercise simply highlights the need to shop around for anything, even something as small as a headlight bulb. And while pricey quotes from branded dealers might not be a surprise, those who will fit your bulbs for free is worth knowing- who’d have thought it would be cheaper to go to Volvo for lightbulb fitting than to Halfords, for example.

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