Forest Glen mechanic Frank Melendez.
Forest Glen mechanic Frank Melendez. Warren Lynam

Car industry revs up over new code of practice

A FEDERAL Government Minister has stepped in to try to resolve a heated dispute between groups representing all sides of the car industry.

The dispute started last week when the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries released a new code of practice, detailing how independent mechanics will be allowed to access information about cars they repair.

But other car industry groups said it limited independent mechanics' access to information.

Federal Small Business Minister Bruce Billson said there was a dysfunction amongst parties and he would hold a meeting for all groups to discuss their concerns.

"A key focus of mine is ensuring consumers are provided with the right information to make informed decisions, and businesses are operating from a level playing field," he said.

Australian Automotive Association chief executive Andrew McKellar had said the code was a way for car brands to protect their own interests by limiting access to a range of service and repair information. Local mechanics echoed the concerns.

But the Australian Automotive Dealer Association, representing car dealers, has since questioned what actual repair and service information was withheld from repairers.

"No service or repair information is withheld at all," AADA chief Patrick Tessier said.

He said things like vehicle security information, part of the vehicle's computerised control system, would never be made available and had no impact on mechanics servicing cars.


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The FCAI too said its members were just trying "to protect customers from the release of important vehicle information related to safety, security, legal and other matters''.

However, the AAA doubted that assurance.

Mr McKellar said the code was weak and deeply flawed and said independent mechanics would be forced to get replacement parts from car dealers and brands and not be able to find cheaper alternatives elsewhere.

Service histories might not also be provided. "If you own a car, you should have access to repair information on it," he said.

A FCAI spokesman said if repairers chose not to use genuine parts, the information might not be applicable anyway.

He said there was a need for both authorised dealer networks and independent repairers to service the 17 million motor vehicles on Australian roads.


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