The ACCC has slammed new car retailers and manufacturers over their stranglehold on new car servicing information.

THERE HAS BEEN a long-running debate over whether you should use a new car servicing centre or have your vehicle serviced be an independent agent. In a lot of cases, there will be caveats in your warranty that lock you into a dealership service centre to realise additional elements. But, going outside this network doesn’t mean your warranty is voided.

However, the ‘aftermarket’ industry as the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) refers to it has long claimed it doesn’t have access to the most current information and codes to properly service new cars and that this restricts its ability to trade and compete.

Here’s what the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said:

“Access to technical information held by car manufacturers is becoming increasingly important as repairing and servicing new cars relies on access to electronic information and data produced by car manufacturers.

“Car manufacturers have previously committed to providing independent repairers with the
same access to technical information as the manufacturers’ authorised dealers, on commercially fair and reasonable terms. However, we’ve discovered problems with the detail and timeliness of the technical information given. These problems can impact on competition in the repair and service market, which ultimately hurts consumers,” the ACCC said.

“We’ve found that car manufacturers and dealers sometimes restrict access to certain parts for legitimate reasons that may bene t consumers. This includes parts that can compromise vehicle security and encourage theft.

“However, a further motive for restricting access may be to steer more repair and service work back to authorised dealers and preferred repairer networks. This can reduce competition for repair or servicing work and raise prices.”

Currently there’s a voluntary code in place that sees (or sometimes doesn’t see) car makers share the latest servicing data with the ‘aftermarket’. The ACCC is calling for it to be mandatory to share this information.

Read our article on dealer vs non-dealer car servicing.

The FCAI has hit back claiming this mandatory sharing of information is unnecessary and that independent repairers shouldn’t be able to claim they can repair all makes and models.

FCAI’s Chief Executive Tony Weber, said: “The reality is that as modern motor vehicles become more sophisticated, the independent repair sector needs to continue to adapt and change to ensure it remains relevant and up to date. Independent repairers shouldn’t be able to say they can repair all makes and models when clearly they can’t. Unfortunately, today’s report just smacks of the ACCC looking to support old and failing business models for independent repairers.

“Car companies take safety, environmental and security information very seriously. Altering the safety and environmental profile of a vehicle by tampering with the car’s on-board diagnostics risks the car being non-compliant with Australian road rules. Additionally, having security information in the public domain puts a vehicle at much greater risk of being stolen,” Mr Weber said.

Question: Do you think the ACCC is being reasonable or is it over-reaching? Is the FCAI simply being protectionist?


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  1. From a different perspective, those capped price servicing arrangements when you purchase the car, probably hurt non dealer servicing even more than this. My question is – what happens when the dealer closes in a small regional area? Where do you go for servicing? It is not a theoretical problem as many regional holden dealers lose their status come 1st January 2018

  2. FCAI does speak for vested interests. The thing is that Dealership workshops simply cannot keep up with the amount of work to be done on the modern vehicle. Most dealerships are stacked with cheap junior labour (& often low skilled cheap migrants) with very poor diagnostic & skills.
    The FCAI reasons for cartel like behaviour are nonsense.
    The volume of work on vehicles that requires dealer level access to factory information for routine service & even minor repairs is far more than Dealerships can handle.
    The aftermarket workshops are required to meet this ever increasing need for dealer level access.
    The aftermarket workshops are very capable of handling the modern vehicle if they have dealer level access to vehicle information systems.
    Vehicle systems relating to security can be reserved for specifically skilled & licensed technicians to improve consumer security – America uses such a system & it works.

    The ACCC is doing the right thing. If dealer level access is made mandatory for aftermarket workshops then Australia will merely be following America & Europe down the same path (albeit many years later). Bring it on.

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