If you use a car on a regular basis, whether for work or recreation, it’s important that your vehicle be maintained and serviced in order for it to continue running smoothly. That means finding a reliable car mechanic who can get the job done and get you back on the road with the minimum of fuss. If you live in Caloundra West, Little Mountain, Meridian Plains, and other parts of the Sunshine Coast, you probably have several different places that you can go for that service, but what you may not have been aware of is that many of those locations were in fact in danger of going out of business.
In the US and Europe, independent auto mechanics have access to all sorts of important information about the cars they work on, but that has not been the case in Australia for quite some time. Automotive dealerships have access to repair data that the small independent car mechanics do not, and that means that certain jobs can really only be completed by the service department at those dealerships. It’s a set-up that many view as an unfair advantage being handed to the big boys, and it would appear that the government agrees.
A group led by the Coalition, Labor, The Greens, the Nick Xenophon Team, and the Motoring Enthusiasts Party have agreed to take an independent look at the current system in order to see what needs to be done to level the playing field a little more. A voluntary code was put in place last year, but it is still not enough to put the smaller mechanics on the same level as the big dealerships, and the Australian Aftermarket Automotive Association (AAAA) believes that more needs to be done if those smaller guys are going to be able to stay in business for the long haul.
As it stands at the moment, there is only a single automaker who provides the detailed information that independent mechanics need for certain jobs. All of the other automakers use a variety of different techniques to wither withhold the info or block payments sent in from Australia. The changes to the rules last year created an online portal that smaller mechanic shops could access, but all the required information is still not being made available, which effectively renders the new regulations useless.
The end result is that the automotive dealerships are trying to create a monopoly in terms of vehicle maintenance, but they are painting themselves into a corner, as there is no way they are able to look after all 13 million vehicles currently on the road in Australia. In order for car owners to get the service they need, a large network of smaller mechanics is required, but they cannot do the work needed if they don’t have all the information available to them. By taking a look at the current regulations, the government may just see the current imbalance and do something to put it right.