GREATER transparency of the car-servicing and repair industry is needed to protect the growing number of motorists who are falling foul of unscrupulous garages.
A worrying 84 per cent of people are unaware that there are no minimum qualifications needed for someone to work as a car mechanic according to research undertaken by the National Franchised Dealers’ Association (NFDA) and Trusted Dealers.
Unlike many parts of Europe, the UK does not regulate entry to the profession meaning that unlicensed and poorly-trained mechanics can run a garage without breaking the law.
The NFDA conducted the research to highlight the training ‘gap’ that exists between technicians at franchised dealers and some non-franchised garages and to press the government for stronger, legally-binding regulation of the industry.
NFDA director Sue Robinson said: ‘The average car is a potentially lethal weapon if poorly maintained – making this a real issue of public safety.
‘At present, anyone can open up a garage regardless of their background or ability and we think this is a situation that needs to change. Therefore we are calling for tougher, legally enforced minimum standards, to raise the bar in the industry.’
The NFDA initiative would bring the UK into line with other countries in Europe where automotive mechanics are subject to minimum standards of training.
Neil Addley, director of franchised dealer-owned used car website Trusted Dealers, said: ‘The NFDA and Trusted Dealers are urging the government to do more to protect motorists by creating minimum standards for all UK garage technicians.
‘Although there are excellent independent garages with very high standards, the fact remains that because the industry is unlicensed, there is no way of knowing whether the man in overalls taking a spanner to your car knows what he’s doing.’
According to NFDA figures, the average vehicle technician at a franchised dealership will have received more than £20,000-worth of training by the time he or she becomes a ‘master technicians’ – a process that can last for five to seven years. However, under the current system, independent garages could be staffed by employees without any professional training.