Their aim is to create greater public awareness of the law and motorists’ rights to choose where to have their vehicles serviced without being penalised.
Many motorists that own vehicles which are under the manufacturers’ warranty are under the misguided impression that any servicing, maintenance or repairs must be carried out by the authorised dealer otherwise their warranty is invalidated.
We have found that some customers are still unaware that, since June 2010, European competition rules which cover agreements between vehicle manufacturers and their authorised dealers, repairers and spare parts distributors, have confirmed important rights which help the motorist. Under the rules, car manufacturers will no longer be able to make the warranty conditional on having the car serviced, or even simple things like oil changes, done in the dealers’ workshops.
The introduction of these rules is fantastic for the motorist! It means that motorists can now shop around for the most competitive price and convenient location for servicing their cars. Servicing and maintenance are calculated to represent around 40% of vehicle running costs over the whole life of the car, therefore having this freedom to shop around can make a vast difference to how much money stays in the motorists pocket! Motorists using their ‘Right to Choose’ have found that there are more competitive prices available from Independent garages and workshops. This has helped go some way to offset the overall increase of motoring costs such as fuel and insurance.
Unsurprisingly, dealers choose not to tell car owners that their warranty is still intact wherever they choose to have their cars serviced*, but the ‘RIGHT TO CHOOSE’ campaign aims to put that right.
- The rules referred to above are the European Regulation 461/2010 (Motor Vehicle Block Exemption). Regulation 461/2010 has been introduced, along with a set of Supplementary Guidelines on Vertical Restraints in Agreements for the Sale and Repair of Motor Vehicles and for the Distribution of Spare Parts for Motor Vehicles (the ‘Supplementary Guidelines’). The new Regulation contains a list of hardcore restrictions applicable to the motor vehicle aftermarket – repair, maintenance and the sale of spare parts – which came into force on 1 June 2010. It also extends the application of the provisions of Regulation 1400/2002 relating to distribution agreements and concerted practices of new motor vehicles until June 2013. After that date, the exemption of such contracts will be regulated by the general regime for vertical agreements, the newly adopted Regulation 330/2010.
- *In order to retain the vehicle warranty it is essential that the car manufacturer’s service schedule is adhered to and that full records of the vehicle’s service history are retained. In addition, details of any parts fitted or consumables, such as oil or coolant, should be retained in order to refute any allegation by a dealer that the warranty has been invalidated.
- One of the sponsor organisations, the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF), has successfully challenged hundreds of cases where dealers have misleadingly told motorists that servicing vehicles outside the dealer network has invalidated the warranty.