Wednesday 13 December 2017

Car owners can use independent workshops without voiding warranties from 2018

Car repairs may be cheaper after lifting of warranty curbs
Independent workshops can do fixes without affecting warranty: Competition watchdog
By Adrian Lim, Transport Correspondent and Aw Cheng Wei, The Straits Times, 12 Dec 2017

Come next year, drivers will be able to fix their cars at a workshop of their choice - sometimes at far lower prices - and not worry too much about losing their warranty, the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) said in a statement yesterday.

Under current warranty restrictions, drivers may service or repair their cars only at authorised workshops. Fixing their cars at independent workshops will void the warranty.

The CCS said it has worked with major car dealers to remove these restrictions from existing and new warranties. The move comes after the commission concluded an inquiry into the supply of car parts.

Current restrictions deter car owners from using independent workshops, curbing the workshops' ability to compete effectively with authorised ones, the watchdog said.

This restriction may, in turn, allow authorised workshops to charge customers higher prices for servicing, repair and parts, it added.

The change will mean that car dealers can void warranties or reject claims only if they establish that independent workshops had damaged or caused defects to the vehicle under warranty, the watchdog added.

CCS chief executive Toh Han Li said: "The removal of the warranty restrictions will facilitate a more competitive market for car repairs and servicing, with more choices for car owners, and opportunities for existing and new independent workshops."

According to the CCS, market feedback indicates that authorised workshops can charge two to three times as much as independent workshops for comparable parts and servicing.

For example, an oil filter change at the independent workshop could cost around $100, but an authorised one will charge about $200, said an industry source.

Mr Francis Lim, president of the Singapore Motor Workshop Association, said the changes will "open up the market" and give car owners more choice.

Mr Lim, who is also group director of BCC Automotive, said authorised workshops require cars under warranty to be taken in for servicing after they clock a certain mileage.

If the owner decides to take his car to an independent party instead - which means the authorised workshops will not have any servicing records - they can void the warranty, he said. However, this will not be the case any more, he added.

Authorised dealers said they welcome the competition.

Mr Nicholas Wong, general manager of Honda agent Kah Motor, said: "As long as the (independent) workshops are good and are able to do the work prescribed, I don't see why not."

But he said if the workshop damages the parts, and customers try to make a warranty claim, it will be an issue.

Mr Ron Lim, general manager of Nissan agent Tan Chong Motor, said: "To compete for the business, after-sales service is something we will improve on our end, in terms of professionalism and the turnaround time."

Still, he added, cars are getting more high-tech, with lane departure sensors and forward collision warning systems. "(It matters to) manufacturers that customers receive appropriate repairs and servicing for the car, so it doesn't affect the vehicle's performance," he said.

Mr Joey Lim, managing director of independent workshop Harmony Motor, who is also the Singapore Motor Workshop Association's secretary, said independent workshops will now have to beef up their technical know-how to service newer car models, which are typically those still under warranty.

According to the association, which has more than 700 members, there are about 2,500 motor workshops in Singapore.

Car owners advised to keep servicing records if they go to third-party workshops, says Motor Traders Association
Doing so for third-party jobs will help them avoid warranty disputes: Motor traders' body
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 21 Dec 2017

To avoid warranty disputes, car owners are advised to keep proper records when they go to third-party workshops.

The Singapore Motor Traders Association (MTA) said yesterday vehicle owners may find it difficult to make warranty claims for a defect or malfunction if this was caused by "any repair, servicing or other actions carried out by third parties".

It said in a statement that authorised motor dealers have the right to reject warranty claims for parts "replaced or modified by third parties".

The association's statement was in response to remarks made by the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) a week ago. The CCS said on Dec 11 that authorised dealers had agreed to remove a clause that voids warranty cover should a car owner go to a third-party workshop.

The MTA said: "To avoid any complications when claiming warranty for vehicles not serviced by authorised motor dealers, motorists should keep proper records of their servicing."

For example, they should keep detailed invoices of their vehicle servicing. The invoices should show proof of purchase of genuine parts (with part serial numbers).

"These records would help support their warranty claims," the association said.

It added that authorised agents may need to spend more time and effort going through vehicles which have not been serviced by them if a warranty claim arises.

"This may result in longer downtime and additional cost to the customer," it added.

The association explained why servicing at authorised dealers' workshops costs more than at third-party workshops.

"A car is made up of some 30,000 parts and is an amalgamation of more than eight separate but interconnected systems. Every component or part has been rigorously tested by the manufacturer to ensure they complement each other so that the vehicle performs optimally.

"Thus, using the proper parts, tools and equipment, and having the correct procedure and proper technique to service and/or replace the part/car are critical."

Singapore Motor Workshop Association secretary Joey Lim said the MTA's requirements are "a must". "Parts must be genuine or from original equipment makers. Labour must be qualified," he added.

Mr Lim also said the association is redoubling efforts to get its technicians qualified. "Spring Singapore is working on an automotive portal with us," he added. "In future, all mileage and invoice information will be captured digitally."

Motorist Anthony Leong said he would go to an authorised agent when a car is under warranty.

The 66-year-old business consultant said: "The question is accident repair. If it's just a minor body work, I might probably get it done outside. I'd go back to the agent if the work needed may jeopardise the warranty."

Major Car Dealers Amend Warranty Terms that Restrict Competition for Car Servicing and Repairs -11 Dec 2017

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