My variator became too annoying at 60000 miles, though it was noticeable from when I bought the car, 52000miles. I had it changed with the cam belt. The job was £321 all in. Labour £105, variator £68, tensioner £59, belt £27, gasket set £12. I was pleased with the price / quality / service.
It seems that variators can go even more frequently than cam belt changes, so I would be inclined to change them both together routinely, especially as changing it independently is likely to cost the same as the belt job. Saving the £68 for the variator doesnít seem worth risking.
There is a theory that low oil level causes premature wear, whether or not thatís true, so many people have this problem I reckon they have a short life expectancy anyway.
Also, my service book says belt change at 72000 but I think anything over half that might be a lottery.
The mechanic (who is an independent Italian specialist who has been well reviewed on this site) actually advised that I didnít need the variator, and that it was something hydraulic he could adjust when he did the job. I didnít understand what he meant, and I asked to have the variator done anyway, especially as it would cost the £105 labour again if it subsequently needed doing (well probably the whole £321, as the belts probably shouldnít be re-used Ė not sure about this bit).
I think there is a view here that some of us would trust a specialist more than main dealers for both quality (and safe keeping of our cars!) and price. Though of course there are rogues in both camps.