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Car servicing likely to cost more

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    Independent mechanics will now struggle to get the necessary data to help them compete with big car companies for maintenance work. Picture: Berrington Kerris Source: PerthNow

Local mechanics have just had another roller-door shut on them.

Motorists are almost certain to miss out on cheaper servicing after the Federal Government backed down on an overhaul of the technical maintenance data shared by car companies to independent workshops.

As modern cars are increasingly controlled by computers, they need expensive diagnostics equipment to do routine maintenance - which in many cases forces motorists to take their car to the dealership they bought it from.

Last year the Federal Government announced a review of the sharing of technology, given that modern vehicles will eventually come on to the market as used cars. But rather than force car makers to share more technical information, the Federal Government has deferred the issue for the car makers to sort it out among themselves.

"It’s like putting the fox in charge of the hen house; consumers are the ones who will be disadvantaged," said Andrew McKellar, the executive director of the Australian Automobile Association, which represents 7 million motorists.

"After more than a year the best recommendation they could come up with is that the car brands should decide amongst themselves who can access their information - it’s simply not good enough."

Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury today released the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAAC) final report, entitled ‘Sharing of repair information in the automotive industry’.

The advisory council found there was "a relatively low level of consumer detriment associated with the accessibility of repair information at this time".

The CCAAC says it urges "the industry to expedite current processes to develop an appropriate outcome in response to this issue and will continue to engage with the industry to support this".

"This is a weak report which recommends a weak response - the interests of consumers need to be recognised," said McKellar.

"Motorists deserve a level playing field when they have their car repaired and experience has shown that industry-led resolutions are not an efficient or effective means of addressing motorists concerns.

"The Government needs to acknowledge that motorists own and control the information and data relating to their vehicle, not the manufacturer."

James McCall, the chief executive of the NSW Motor Traders Association, which represents 5000 car dealers and repairers - both sides of the debate  - said: "I believe the report is fair and more than satisfactory. This is a commercial matter that needs to be settled between independent repairers, motor dealers and car manufacturers and no-one else should interfere."
 

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 5 comments

  • I can see it on both sides of the coin, but being an ex dealership technician I know how much the dealerships spend on diagnostic equipment alone.....a decent sized BMW dealer for example will spend around 120K plus on the electronic equipment alone + special tools, training the techs etc...a massive amount of outlay just to open the doors of the workshop....

    Navman of Sydney Posted on 28 December 2012 1:00pm
  • Manufacturers shouldnt have to share any info at all as they are the ones doing all the R&D so soneone like KMart/Ultratune/Whoever can take advantage of it,as an Ex Dealer Service manager it is wrong to suggest otherwise as its their Interlectural Property at stake.Dealership technicians are trained especially to look after you car/model,use them.

    Darkie McMillan of Southwest Coast of WA Posted on 27 December 2012 10:59am
  • It is not surprising, car dealers profits are at risk when people take their cars to independent workshops. Car dealers don't make much money when they sell cars, it has become very competitive. The only place they make money now is in finance, servicing and spare parts. Some manufacturers have introduced fixed servicing, the European brands are very slow to join the party. I refuse to buy a new car now that does not include fixed servicing costs, so people have a choice vote with your pockets!

    Lou of Melbourne Posted on 27 December 2012 8:39am
  • Another gutless decision! And the Labour Party do not have exclusive rights to this either. Other countries have had Lemon Laws for years, Other countries have had laws forcing the sharing of information on vehicle repair for years. This is all political parties in Australia, even the Greens seem to have similar views that result in doing nothing. My repair bill for one of my European Cars dropped by 50% when I went to an independent repairer.

    Peter of Brisbin of Australia Posted on 24 December 2012 1:15pm
  • This is so disappointing to hear. I have had my cars serviced by my local Ultratune garage for years because I trust them to help me and won't rip me off. Dealers are only interested in getting the max out of me. A recent example of this is when my WRX could not be started and when I rang the Subaru dealer in Adelaide they told me to get a tow truck to take the car to their yard and they'll check first what the problem is. They quoted me $75 just for initial diagnostic. My Ultratune mechanic fixed it up within less than half an hour and charged me nothing for it. One thing for sure I'll never want to have anything to do with that dealership and I'll tell my family and friends not to deal with them.

    johnno of SA Posted on 22 December 2012 12:52pm
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