‘Higher Car Repair Prices for Women’ Myth Pulled Apart

It’s not unusual to see a ‘Female Friendly Garage’ sign on a repairer’s website, or in their reception. However, a study published earlier this month suggested that, far from being ‘female friendly’, garages were quoting, on average, £45 more to women - and over 30% more in Birmingham - for the same job, something which will have made for uncomfortable reading amongst the UK’s 40,000 garages, mobile mechanics and franchised dealers.

WhoCanFixMyCar.com, the comparison website for vehicle servicing and repair, decided to look into the matter further. Their 113,000 previous users, 6,600 registered garages and 4,000 weekly tailored repair quotes gave them the ideal data set to understand whether garages and mechanics really do increase their prices for women. Read on to find out more.

#1 The overall average female quote was actually over 10% lower!

Perhaps those female-friendly badges have their place after all. Across 64,000 data points, encompassing everything from an oil change to more complex work such as clutch replacement and even full resprays, the average quote to women was £208, compared to £233 for men - something which immediately calls the earlier research into question. Here are the relative prices, broken down in full.

#2 ...but are these like-for-like vehicles?

In short, no they’re not. All stereotypes aside, our data clearly shows that most cars show either a male or a female bias. Take a look at our ‘Most Common Vehicles’ chart below.

While our two most common vehicles, the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, are almost equally popular between men and women seeking servicing and repair, there are some (not unexpected) trends. Superminis are consistently 1.5x - 2x more popular amongst women, with MINIs and Ford KAs 2x and 3x more likely to be submitted by a female driver respectively. Meanwhile, saloons such as the 3 Series, Mondeo, Vectra and Passat are around 2x more likely to be driven by men, according to WhoCanFixMyCar.com data. Jaguars and Volvos appear to be the most male-biased marques of all.

So, if women are driving superminis and men are driving saloons, then a price discrepancy in favour of women should come as no surprise. Right?

#3 What happens when comparing like-for-like vehicles only?

Stripping back purely to top-selling, evenly male/female popular vehicles (namely, Focus, Astra, Golf, Megane and Zafira) and most popular repair types, the true underlying trend emerges.

The results confirm what our 40,000 repair outlets will have known all along: a female voice on the end of the phone, or a female first name on an online enquiry, doesn’t affect the price quoted. The 1.3% difference in women’s favour shown here is too small for us to see as a true indicator of any bias.

#4 Where CAN the service and repair industry improve its approach to female customers?

While it’s safe to say that pricing is approached without bias, WhoCanFixMyCar.com did unearth two pieces of data that suggest that the UK’s car maintenance industry isn’t viewed equally by men and women.

1. Over 70% of WhoCanFixMyCar.com users are male
2. Women shy away from certain, more ‘involved’ repair categories, as shown here.

Taking each finding in turn:

There’s little difference in personal vehicle ownership and use between men and women in the UK, and yet proportionally more men take on the task of ‘dealing with’ the garage or mechanic when it requires attention. Plus, as can be seen below, while women appear happy to request most work, they are less likely to report more complex, ‘under the bonnet’ work themselves, most commonly clutch replacement, timing belts, water pumps, CV joints and the like.

In conclusion: it’s clear that the UK’s car maintenance industry can do without coverage suggesting that garage owners and managers jack up prices for female customers for a start, and we’re pleased to see that this myth can now be safely dismissed, with proof coming from a 64,000-point data set. However it appears that service and repair outlets could still do better at attracting ‘direct’ female business, above all when the issue is seen as particularly complex.

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At Motor Heads we appreciate every opinion! except SPAM! Comments are moderated, so if you want to link to your motoring site please ensure its relevant to the conversation, otherwise your comment will be removed.

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