Plan to give dealers' closely-guarded secrets to mechanics
INDEPENDENT mechanics will have access to manufacturers' closely-guarded car data under a new law proposed by Labor.
The federal Opposition plans to force car manufacturers to share their technical information so vehicles can be serviced by any mechanic.
Under the existing arrangement, car makers can keep vital information about faults and diagnosis to themselves - making it harder for independent mechanics to service cars and giving dealers the monopoly on the servicing market.
With hundreds of computers contained in new cars, access to digital files and codes can be difficult for independent mechanics.
Greg Kinanne has managed Kinnane's Car Clinic at West Ipswich for 30 years.
He said it was difficult to access digital information, with manufacturers owning and controlling the technical information.
"You get very little information from dealerships unless you have a back door if you know someone in the workshop,” he said.
"Because of the lack of giving us information we have to become members of other (car servicing) groups - which costs us membership.”
He said the difficulty in accessing the latest information slowed down servicing.
A computer scanning tool that detects faults in vehicles can cost hundreds of dollars.
Mr Kinnane, whose son Chris will soon take over the business, has four mechanics and an apprentice working for him.
He praised Labor's plan and said it would help independent mechanics survive in the digital world.
"If the dealerships control all the information and technology it would cripple a lot of small businesses.”
"It does add to the cost of servicing vehicles and it sometimes slows the process down.”
Shayne Neumann praised Mr Kinanne's advocacy and said car manufacturers' "protection racket” on information pushed up prices for car services and limited the ability of independent mechanics to grow their business.
He said Labor's reform would also deliver savings to drivers.
"This will be a win for consumers and it's a win for local small business and independent operators like Greg and his team,” Mr Neumann said.
"It should be your car, your choice.”