Gary Pinner and Lisa Chesters.

REGIONAL car owners are disproportionately disadvantaged on technical support, according to Gejay Automotive Bendigo director Gary Pinner.

Car manufacturers or dealerships make it difficult for independent mechanics to get access to a vehicle’s technical information including codes and pin numbers, to service or carry out repairs, he said.

Not having access to the data could mean transporting the vehicle to a dealership in another regional city or Melbourne.

Labor wants to impose a mandatory code on manufacturers and dealers that requires them to share technical information with independent mechanics “on commercially fair and reasonable terms”.

Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters said the move would enhance competition in the vehicle repair and service sector, and level the playing field for independent firms, such as Gejay Automotive.

“If you choose your local independent repairer, because you have a relationship, then they should have access to the data,” she said.

“The big manufacturers, the car dealerships, I acknowledge that they will hate this because we are breaking up their monopoly, but it should be about your choice.”

Labor wants the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to have oversight of the mandatory code.

“At this stage, the ACCC has recommended that it be done so it is a ministerial decision,” Ms Chesters said.

Earlier this year Mr Pinner lobbied in Canberra for changes that would help independent repairers. He said the limited amount of data that was available to the aftermarket was a concern.

“We find that in a lot of cases our customers are happy to come to us, not necessarily go to the dealer, but when we are unable to access certain information, we have to refer the vehicle to the dealer and that can mean taking the car hundreds of kilometres,” Mr Pinner said.

“In the regional areas, that can make it very difficult and if I have to refer our work to a dealer in other regional areas or in Melbourne, it takes work out of our workshop and makes it difficult to survive in the long term.”

He said there was no reason why car owners had to take their car to dealerships or manufacturers for aftermarket care even if it was under
warranty.

“Independent dealers are skilled and can do the work but the infornation denied to us are the service codes and codes in relation to repairing certain parts of the car,” he said.

“That is why we are very vocal, it will benefit all the aftermarket repairers in our area.”

– Sharon Kemp