European Union changes car maintenance laws

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Car Mechanic

The new laws in the European Union will give consumers more choice about which mechanic they see. Image from Flickr.

On June 1, car maintenance in the European Union will see significant changes. Carmakers and “authorized dealerships” will be required to both share technical data and to remove conditional warranty limitations. This change will end the exemption from antitrust rules that car makers have had.

New rules end car maker / authorized dealer monopoly

In the European Union, as in the United States, carmakers are allowed to ignore warranty obligations if a car has been serviced anywhere other than an “authorized dealership.” Authorized dealerships also usually get extra technical information from the car maker that independent shops do not get. In the European Union, this relationship has been judged as a violation of antitrust law. As of June 1, carmakers must share that technical information with all repair shops. By 2013, carmakers will have to honor warranties no matter where the car was serviced.

Car maintenance laws will save consumers money

When announcing the new EU car maintenance regulations, Jaoquin Almunia, head of European Union antitrust regulations, pointed out the consumer benefit of these changes. In general, car repair and maintenance costs are about 40 percent of ownership expenses. The general cost of new cars has been dropping, but maintenance costs have gone up. By breaking up this monopoly, competition will be increased. Independent dealerships will also be able to operate more equally with authorized dealerships.

Similar car maintenance laws in the United States?

The car sales and maintenance system in the United States is similar to the European Union. However, there are not currently any major pieces of legislation or litigation set to change that. The new EU law will affect many carmakers that operate in the United States, such as Daimler-Chrysler and Volkswagen. Will this new set of laws in the European Union lead to changes in the United States? It is possible, but it may not be probable.


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