LOCAL mechanics could soon become extinct and motorists may be forced to pay more for vehicle servicing after the car industry blocked independent repairers from getting access to complete maintenance data and specialist tools to fix modern cars.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries — the body that represents car companies — has walked away from negotiations with independent repairers and issued its own voluntary code of conduct on car servicing.
But the Australian Automobile Association, which represents seven million motorists nationally, says the code threatens to strip away the basic rights of consumers and local mechanics because it blocks access to critical information, computer upgrades and diagnostics equipment.
About 20,000 independent workshops across Australia and approximately 1500 new-car dealer service centres maintain 17 million vehicles nationally.
Independent operators argue that as cars become complex “computers on wheels”, smaller workshops need complete access to maintenance information and better diagnostics tools, rather than the bare essentials covered by the code.
Under the pump … independent workshops want the same access to information as car deale
In Europe and North America it is compulsory for car companies to make available to independent workshops the same complete maintenance data and diagnostics equipment provided to new-car dealership service centres.
In most cases, independent mechanics in Europe and North America pay a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly subscription fee to access the most up to date information and diagnostics tools to work on certain cars.
But in Australia the car industry has been accused of locking motorists into dealership servicing programs.
“This shows complete arrogance and contempt on behalf of the car makers,” said Andrew McKellar, the chief executive of the Australian Automobile Association, the peak body representing the NRMA, RACQ, RACV, RAA, RAC and other motoring groups in each state and territory.
“(The FCAI) is demonstrating little concern for the consumer and they are gunning for independent repairers and service providers. That’s a bad thing for consumers as it reduces choice and reduces competition.”