RAC Cars News


Cutting Down On Cowboy Car Mechanics

By raccars Published

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A new scheme has been proposed to clamp down on the number of untrained mechanics working on cars. The National Franchised Dealer Association (NFDA), representing franchised dealerships, is concerned that there are currently no regulations imposed upon mechanics working in the UK and that British motorists are being ripped off by rogue garages.

NFDA research shows that British car owners are not even aware of the danger, with a survey showing that 84% of respondents did not know that there are no minimum qualifications necessary to work as a mechanic. As car technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, the NFDA claims that the danger posed by untrained mechanics grows more serious. The association is urging the UK government to take action to safeguard industry safety standards.

While in a number of other European countries mechanics must be regulated, unskilled and incompetent amateur mechanics in Britain are able to open a garage and work on cars, without any licensing procedure. German garages, for example, must have at least one 'Maester Technician,' who is a mechanic qualified to a certain standard, and garages must be licensed to uphold certain standards of consumer protection. The NFDA is calling for legal enforcement of a similar set of minimum standards in the UK, to which mechanics must be held accountable. Trading Standards has also expressed concern about the safety issues of allowing untrained mechanics to perform repair work on cars.

On the other hand, auto industry complaints body, Motor Codes, fears the amount of cumbersome red tape that would be involved in setting up a mechanics licensing scheme and believes that self-regulation is an effective policy for the industry. It claims that complaints can be adequately handled by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, whose main responsibility at the moment is to handle manufacturer recalls.

The Institute of the Motor Industry, (IMI), manages standards in automotive industry training programmes and recommends that mechanics make a point of continuous training to stay on top of new automotive technology, as industry advances move so swiftly that existing training and skills can become obsolete within a few years.

The issue of ongoing training has already been raised by manufacturers - as an example, the lane assist technology used by Volkswagen operates via a radar camera, that could easily be disturbed through any routine repairs to the car's bumper. While franchised VW mechanics check these details, unskilled mechanics may not even be aware of the existence of the technology.

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