Herald Sun - Motoring - - NEWS -

IF you’re wor­ried about the cost of car ser­vic­ing and the new in­dus­try code that lim­its in­for­ma­tion given to in­de­pen­dent re­pair­ers, fear not. The is­sue has been in the me­dia spot­light but we haven’t heard the last of it — amend­ments will come sooner rather than later.

Car com­pa­nies and deal­ers want to pro­tect in­for­ma­tion that is ex­clu­sive to their cars. The maker spend mil­lions on de­vel­op­ment and the deal­ers out­lay lots on lav­ish show­rooms (at the mak­ers’ in­sis­tence) and need to re­coup their costs.

It is un­der­stand­able they want cus­tomers to stay within the dealer net­work.

How­ever, it is manda­tory in Europe and North Amer­ica for car brands to make avail­able the same in­for­ma­tion to fran­chised deal­ers and in­de­pen­dent me­chan­ics alike, for a fee.

Here, in­de­pen­dent re­pair­ers don’t dis­pute pay­ing a fee, they just want ac­cess to the same in­for­ma­tion as over­seas peers. The car in­dus­try in­sists they al­ready have ac­cess. But we need a bet­ter def­i­ni­tion of ac­cess.

Some lo­cal me­chan­ics re­sort to search­ing on Google be­cause the over­seas web­sites for in­de­pen­dent re­pair­ers (again, manda­tory in Europe and North Amer­ica) of­ten lock them out once they type in an Aus­tralian ve­hi­cle iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber.

I support tak­ing your car to a fran­chised dealer if it is still within the war­ranty pe­riod, be­cause if some­thing goes wrong just out of war­ranty, the car maker will be more in­clined to look favourably on the prob­lem.

Us­ing an in­de­pen­dent re­pairer will not void your war­ranty pro­vided ap­pro­pri­ate (and prefer­ably gen­uine) parts are fit­ted.

Once a car reaches, say, five years old (the av­er­age in Aus­tralia is 9.7 years) I can un­der­stand why mo­torists turn to in­die me­chan­ics.

The car in­dus­try adopts the stance of new-car buy­ers. For most cars, the war­ranty ex­pired long ago. If common sense pre­vails, a fairer code will soon be drafted.

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