Independent mechanics under threat from lack of info

Wayne Burton from Waynes Mechanical World says mechanics need access to information about a vehicle but is up to manufacturers to release the software.
Wayne Burton from Waynes Mechanical World says mechanics need access to information about a vehicle but is up to manufacturers to release the software. Alistair Brightman

CAR companies are desperate to hold on to customers and keep the money flowing in, which is why they are making it harder for independent mechanics to repair cars and service vehicles, a Hervey Bay mechanic says.

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 this has mechanics and motorist groups concerned.

Hervey Bay's Wayne's Mechanical owner Wayne Burton has been a mechanic for about 50 years and said electronic vehicles were becoming harder to repair because it was up to manufacturers to release the software.

Mr Burton said mechanics needed this to carry out the repairs but couldn't complete the work without access to the car's information.

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 bought a 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," Mr McKellar said.

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

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

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

Insurance body RACQ's technical and safety policy executive manager Steve Spalding said restrictions should not be in place when people tried to ensure their vehicle was safe, reliable and roadworthy.

"It's progressively getting more difficult for independent repairers to get the information they need," Mr Spalding said.

These issues are nothing new to Mr Burton.

He said it was rumoured in the 1970s that dealerships would carry out all car repairs in the future.

He said to ensure business would continue mechanics needed to keep up to date with training and equipment.

What they say:

  • Hervey Bay mechanic: Car companies are trying to hold on to customers
  • Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries: 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. It's concerning for regional areas

- APN Newsdesk

Topics:  car dealerships hervey bay maryborough mechanic software

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