Motor Codes is claiming progress towards raising standards in the vehicle service and repair sector following an independent study by consumer champion Which?
Which? research, involving introducing faults on vehicles which were then sent to workshops, showed that Motor Codes garages performed significantly better than workshops not subscribing to the code of practice.
They spotted almost 60% of the faults, compared to the non-subscribers' 43% success. However 15 of the 17 Code members tested were franchised workshops.
Overall the top performer was the Bosch Car Service scheme, whose members - all independent garages - spotted 63% of the faults.
The worst performer was the Good Garage Scheme, operated by Forte Lubricants for independent garages, whose members found only 39% of the faults, fewer than the garages which were not involved in any scheme.
Chris Mason, director of Motor Codes, said: "Motor Codes is encouraged that after just two years of operation it is having such a dramatic impact in what is a long-term process of gradual change and improvement.
“We acknowledge that there’s still a way to go to ensure lasting improvements are made, but this independent research proves that our approach is working.”
Both Motor Codes and the Bosch scheme are approved by the Office of Fair Trading, with Bosch having full approval and Motor Codes having Stage One approval.
Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive, Which?, said the results still need improving upon.
He added: “This is a worrying snapshot of an industry that desperately needs to clean up its act. Almost all the garages in our investigation failed to fix basic faults.
“The fact that the Bosch and Motor Codes schemes have out-performed independent garages is encouraging, but there’s still a long way to go for the industry to win the confidence of car owners.”
Which? tested 15 garages from each scheme except the Motor Codes scheme, where it tested 15 franchised and 2 independent members to reflect the Code's membership (80%/20% split between franchised and independents).
Paul Williams, chairman of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI), said he was ‘extremely disappointed and very surprised that the whole industry was being tarred with the one brush, after less than 62 people surveyed had a negative experience of car servicing'.
He said: "Given that 48 million services are carried out per annum it is inaccurate to imply, on the performance of so few, that all garages are failing the consumer.
“We hope that Which? will submit details of the garages found to be under performing, to the RMI and, should the complaint be justified and the standard of service offered found to be below that which we expect from RMI members, we can expel them from our membership."
"In terms of the industry as a whole, 62 cases is not in the least indicative – bearing in mind what the industry, both franchised and independent dealers, are investing into customer relations."