New car service code to squeeze workshops, AMIF calls for unity

A new car servicing code being agreed to between major automotive industry bodies threatens to hit independent workshops, many of which operate from existing service stations, out of the business of repairing new cars and could force new car owners back to the new car dealers.

Car maker body the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industry (FCAI) and new car dealer body the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) are believed to be at loggerheads over access to the latest new car maintenance data.

Norm Iacono, who operates and independent service station and workshop in Stanmore, Sydney, told the Sydney Morning Herald that servicing has become a lot more cheaper in dealerships than it used to be and that they’re trying to make new car owners go back there.

AAA chief executive Andrew McKellar claimed that the FCAI had walked away from negotiations to implement the code of practice and has undermined the process. The new code of proactive has so many exclusions that it means independent mechanics will be unable to compete with new car dealerships, he said.

But the Australian Motor Industry Federation (AMIF), on behalf of its association members, has urged all sections of the Australian motor industry to unite in relation to the current debate on access to vehicle repair and service information and agree on a sensible way forward.

The AMIF considers the FCAI’s vehicle information industry code falls short of what is required to secure agreement between all the parties.

“Clearly, consumers have the right to choose where they get their vehicle repaired or serviced so, in large measure, this issue is about consumer rights,” AMIF CEO, Richard Dudley, said.

However, Mr Dudley added that in providing access to vehicle repair and service information, it is not unreasonable for manufacturers to seek payment for such information, nor is it unreasonable for them to insist that independent repairers have the equipment, training and skills to repair and service vehicles covered by the information in question, just as dealer networks are required to do.

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