The Road Ahead : August 2010
RACQ ADVOCACY MEMBER ESSENTIALS visit www.roadahead.com.au MORE INFO MAKES YOUR DAY 69 AUG/SEPT 2010 THE ROAD AHEAD Access to vehicle technical information is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers and independent repairers. STORY BARRY GREEN | PHOTO JIM MCEWAN IF YOU TAKE your car to an independent repairer for servicing or work, best ask if they can do the job. Why? Because many have difficulty in obtaining the necessary information to properly service, repair and diagnose late model vehicles. A report by RACQ Vehicle Technologies has identified that vehicle manufacturers restrict the supply of such information to varying degrees and generally limit its availability to their dealer network. This is emerging as a problem as currently there is no formal or industry-wide approach in Australia for accessing the information. RACQ Vehicle Technologies executive manager Steve Spalding said it was a "reasonable expectation" that manufacturers release the necessary information to vehicle owners (including to their repairer of choice) so that they could maintain their vehicle in a safe, roadworthy and reliable condition. "This information needs to include published specifications along with access to live data via the vehicle's diagnostic link," he said. A sample of repairers contacted by The Road Ahead for comment said they currently attempted to source the information through industry contacts and aftermarket web sites. When this was not available, there was no recourse but to be upfront with the consumer. "We 're in the business of problem solving," Valley Car Clinic and Tyre Centre proprietor Tony Bonanno said. "But if and when there comes a time when we can't do (the repair), we advise them (the consumer)." Charlie Serchen, Motor Traders Association of Queensland (M TAQ) Automotive Engineers Division chairman and proprietor of Diff Lapping & Repairs Pty Ltd, said repairers engaged "various methods" to obtain the information. "Although success is usually experienced, the situation would be more right to repair productive if there was a co-operative arrangement (between manufacturer and repairer), including a fee for information," he said. MTAQ principal policy director Richard Payne said his organisation was, in general, not opposed to manufacturers making the information available, provided it was in a "controlled way". This related to competency on the part of the user and the use of genuine spare parts. Mr Payne said the Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce (VAC C ) had been canvassing manufacturers on the issue. "A couple of local manufacturers (are being) a little bit difficult ... but my understanding is that there's tacit approval to working with the industry in general," he said. For the independent repairer -- and the consumer -- a fix can't come soon enough. The RACQ's report will be provided to the Office of Fair Trading for its attention. PHOTO, ABOVE: VALLEY CAR CLINIC AND TYRE CENTRE PROPRIETOR TONY BONANNO.
June July 2010