Repair And Maintenance Information restrictions continue, UK AFCAR finds

As plans for a UK Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Order (MVBEO) continue to take shape, UK AFCAR is finding that independent workshops are facing increasingly restricted access to data, as well as repair and maintenance information. 

The coalition of industry bodies recently invited independent garages to register any restrictions they face on gaining access to this data, or other restrictions in their ability to complete a vehicle repair via a new on-line form

The findings over various repair and maintenance information, vehicle data and service detail restriction, which are ongoing, shows independent operators reporting some concerning issues, across a number of vehicle makes and models, including: Mazda, Hyundai, BMW, Audi, Range Rover, Porsche, Citroen, Bentley, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes, Peugeot and Vauxhall.  

Repair and Maintenance Information restricted

One garage responded, saying: “[We had problems with the] Mercedes A Class radar, [as there were] no fault codes but distance warning and emergency braking [were] not working. [It was] diagnosed as [the] radar control unit. [We were] unable to replace [the part], as [it] requires Mercedes OEM and C5 SCN login.

Another garage could not access a Hyundai vehicle’s online service record, meaning they could not record servicing or repair work, while another had difficulty in finding any information to update a Citroen vehicle’s digital service records, with the problem remaining unresolved. The same problem was reported for a Mazda CX 5. 

More specifically, one technician came across a stumbling block when replacing a diesel particulate filter (DPF) additive tank to a Peugeot Partner, as they were unable to programme the part to the vehicle and had to take it to the dealers for secure configuration. 

Protecting the aftermarket 

Mark Field, UK AFCAR chairman and chief executive of the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF), said: “The findings have confirmed what we already knew; independent garages are being locked out of repair and maintenance information activities by some vehicle manufacturers. It is imperative that the independent aftermarket works on a level playing field – as detailed in legislation – and can provide drivers with an effective choice of where they take their vehicle to be repaired or serviced, and it’s clear that as it stands, this is not the case in a number of instances.”

“We encourage technicians to continue to come forward so we can continue to collate solid evidence and lobby the Government to ensure this ongoing issue is resolved and the aftermarket remains protected.” 

Made up of automotive lobbying groups including the Garage Equipment Association (GEA), Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF), National Tyre Dealer Association (NTDA) and the UK Lubricants Association (UKLA), UK AFCAR is fighting to ensure the rights of the independent aftermarket that are enshrined in the current Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation (MVBER) and vehicle type approval legislation, both of which are upheld in the post-Brexit era. 

MVBER expires at the end of May 2023, and the government is currently working on MVBEO to replace it, giving the independent aftermarket greater protections, including unrestricted access to repair and maintenance information. The plans are currently going through a technical consultation to ensure wording of the process is correct. 

It looks to allow all multi-brand operators to be able to access technical and essential repair and maintenance information, supply spare parts of matching quality to original equipment (OE) parts, and perform service, maintenance and repair (SMR), providing vehicle owners with a choice of the supply of SMR services, as part of an open, competitive, and transparent marketplace. 

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