The Motor Trade Association of Australia (MTAA) wants the industry to limit technical repair information only to qualified repairers operating legitimate automotive repair businesses.
It said that unqualified people working on cars in a backyard situation could dramatically increase safety-related problems with cars.
The Motor Trade Association Western Australia CEO Stephen Moir added that there was already a serious problem building up with supermarket-style car accessory and parts retailers selling do-it-yourself kits with DVD instructions.
“This is straight out dangerous,” Mr Moir said.
“It is one thing for a person to tinker with their car. It’s quite another for them to follow a simplistic guide without any formal qualifications or experience and without the proper tools, particularly when working on parts of the car that involve the safety of the occupants and other road users.”
Mr Moir said: “It’s a problem that doesn’t only affect us, but manufacturers are very concerned.
“What we don’t want is for manufacturers to supply all the repair information to anyone that wants it.
“That can include the aftermarket parts manufacturers who would use the manufacturer’s’ data to create the DIY guides, which would completely undo everything we are trying to achieve in regard to safety.”
The MTAA, together with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), Australian Automobile Association (AAA), Australian Automotive Dealers Association (AADA) and the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), has established the Access to Repair Information Agreement with members and some manufacturers to allow qualified technicians access to their data.
“The agreement was set up about five months ago and uses an existing portal for repairers to access information,” Mr Moir said.
“The portal allows access to the southern hemisphere’s largest collection of technical manuals and repair information.
“More than 700,000 pages of information was accessed online in 2015 alone while the accompanying call centre fielded 60,000 inquiries with a 97 per cent success rate in identifying solutions to these enquiries.
“Some people are saying it’s not working, but I believe there’s no evidence of that. It is the best avenue we have to make the industry safer.”
However, Mr Moir said some manufacturers had yet to agree to sharing technical information.
He lauded Toyota, Subaru and Holden for their participation, believing this type of communication between manufacturers and all qualified technicians would be beneficial to the consumer and to the industry.
But he said he was not keen on seeing the agreement become legislated.
“We will continue to approach the manufacturers because we don’t believe legislating is the answer,” Mr Moir said.
Legislation was proposed for the US on the same issue of sharing automotive technical data, but only one state, Massachusetts, finally enacted it.
However, the European Union (EU) has made it mandatory for all carmakers who sell cars in the EU to provide all repair and servicing information through a portal which can be accessed online by repairers for a fee.
“We would prefer the agreement to be completed through cooperation.”
Mr Moir said the MTAA was also concerned that there are independent repairers who give the impression that they can fix all cars.
“In a country with products from 60-plus manufacturers, that’s just not possible,” he said.
“I believe there will be more niche repairers who will concentrate on one or two brands of cars. These will do very well in the future because they are experienced in specific brands and have the right tools and experience to fix problems.”
By Neil Dowling