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Dealers shut out small operators: mechanic

IS this the death of the small mechanic business?

Gladstone mechanic Russell Houghton says a move to restrict information given to car repairers is a way for car dealers to ensure people continue to spend money with them years after buying a new car.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has released its own code of practice which outlines how independent mechanics need to contact car dealerships to access safety, security and environmental information about a car they are repairing.

But it has mechanics and motorist groups concerned.

Mr Houghton, who owns GPR Automotive, said their scanning tool, which runs diagnostics to find out electronically what needs fixing, only covered about 80% of the vehicle's information.

He said car dealers keep the other 20% of information to themselves "so it becomes harder for us to diagnose".

Car owners then have to take their car back to the dealer to get it properly diagnosed.

Australian Automobile Association chief executive Andrew McKellar said FCAI's code for restrictive access to a car's information was especially concerning for people in rural regional areas, who would have to drive hours to a city where they purchased their car, for servicing and repairs.

"The car brands have sought to protect their own interests and the interests of their franchised dealers by limiting access to a range of service and repair information," he said.

But FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said these regulations had been in place for a while.

He said the three exclusions were anything to do with safety, security and environmental impacts of a car; three areas they would not sacrifice.

"We will not tell you how to turn the airbag off," he said.

Mr Houghton did not believe this would mean independent mechanics would shut down any time soon.

But he said it would mean they would just need to keep on top of training and new equipment.

THEY SAID IT:

Gladstone mechanic: Car companies try to keep people spending money with their business after buying a new car.

FCAI: We've got exclusions around safety, security and the environment for good reasons.

RACQ: Mechanics have a right to carry out repairs. Motorists have a right to choose their mechanic.

AAA: The car brands are trying to protect their own interests.

Topics:  car repairs cars chamber of commerce mechanic



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