Consumer Watch: Parts cost a shock

By Susan Edmunds

European car buyers pay a hefty price for parts and repairs

European car repairs are more expensive than Japanese models. Photo / Thinkstock
European car repairs are more expensive than Japanese models. Photo / Thinkstock

A strong Kiwi dollar and weak demand from European car buyers are driving up the popularity of brands like Volkswagen, Audi and BMW in New Zealand.

But buyers of new and an increasing number of second hand European cars, are finding service costs a lot higher than expected.

Motor Trade Association spokesman Ian Stronach said European manufacturers had become quite aggressive in their pricing because the European car-buying market was very weak. Instead of selling to traditional markets, more cars were being exported.

That, combined with the strong New Zealand dollar, meant they were more affordable in New Zealand.

"You're getting the latest model VW Golf for $32,000. That's cheaper than a Corolla."

But buyers needed to realise that while the purchase price had come down, costs had not.

"They need to be aware they have to continue to invest in the vehicle."

For those who always buy a Japanese car, the change could be a shock.

AA spokesman Andrew Bayliss said it was increasingly an issue for second-hand buyers. While the car had depreciated with age, the cost of parts had not and Japanese car parts tended to be more readily available.

Business owner Rachel Beckham bought an Audi in December for $6,000, and has already spent $3,000 on repairs.

"I think our mechanics don't know how to work on them and we're paying for them to learn. I can't understand why, just because it's a European car, it should be so much more expensive."

She said if there was no more trouble for a few years it would not put her off buying another.

"They're nice, they have have style, they ride smoothly."

Philip Macalister has owned three European cars. He has noticed a big increase in the number of European cars on the roads. He said the price compared favourably with Japanese cars, but European cars had higher specifications and good safety ratings. He has just spent $700 on wing mirror.

"With (my son's) Suzuki Swift ... if the part isn't in stock they have it there the next day. With my car, they have to order it from Singapore."

- Herald on Sunday

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