New data access law means a new era for the aftermarket

Mechanic using a car diagnostic tester

The aftermarket technicians of Australia are no longer working in the dark when they need to access critical data that until now has been beyond reach, securely locked inside the virtual safes of the car makers.

It took Commonwealth legislation to achieve a level playing field in vehicle repair, and that became law in July this year.

The Motor Vehicle Information Scheme (MVIS) is now operational in Australia. The law, the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere, compels vehicle manufacturers to provide all service and repair information to independent repairers at a fair market price.

For independent workshops, it marks the beginning of a new era.

Independent workshops have struggled to obtain vehicle service and repair information from manufacturers, including software updates, wiring diagrams, security and immobilisation information. As vehicle technology has advanced, the need to access manufacturer-level information for diagnosis and repair has become critical.

The responsibility of the day-to-day operation of the scheme and access to manufacturer vehicle information is handled by the Australian Automotive Service and Repair Authority (AASRA).

It will be a learning curve for both sides, the car companies and the independent workshops, but written into the new law are mechanisms that aim to be fair to all parties. In simple terms, aftermarket workshops will have access to the same car makers’ codes, part numbers and repair data that are available now only to franchise dealers, and repairers will pay a fee for the service.

It’s important that the industry now supports the decade or more of work that has gone into the ‘choice of repairer’ campaign. It’s now the workshops’ turn to make this work for the industry and for the customers of all independent workshops.

Every workshop now needs to consider where they want to position themselves. Just because the industry now has this access to OEM data, even at a price, it doesn’t mean that every workshop is going to need it all, let alone do it all.

It is going to become more difficult now for any workshops which boast that they can fix and service all makes and models, and the difficulties will multiply as technology keeps rushing forward.

The first step is for every workshop to consider signing up with AASRA. Just as the car companies needed to come to the party, the same applies to the aftermarket industry. For the scheme to work well, the industry needs to give it full support.

It will be a brave workshop that rushes in to sign up with every car brand that sells in Australia, even if they can afford to do so. This new era of car repair will need to foster a greater level of collaboration between workshops.

I’m forecasting that it will not be necessary, and in most cases just not possible, for every workshop to be able to do every type of repair on every make of car. It will become more important to know which workshop can do which updates or repairs.

I urge every workshop to step outside their individual squares, consider signing up to AASRA and increase their awareness of the capabilities of other workshops in your area. It will become a question of efficient use of the newly available data, and don’t worry, there are plenty of vehicles around that will need your future attention and if you refer work to others, you will get your share.

This article was published 26/10/2022 and the content is current as at the date of publication.