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Motor Codes granted OFT approval

Garage servicing scheme gets government backing

Motor Codes garage

Which? hopes OFT approval will help Motor Codes garages to raise standards

The Motor Codes Service and Repair Code has received full approval from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). After more than 25,000 reviews from customers, Motor Codes garages can now display the OFT logo.

The endorsement from the OFT comes three years after the code was launched, with the aim of raising standards in the garage servicing industry. More than 6,000 garages have now signed up to Motor Codes, mostly franchished, carmaker-branded dealers.

However, there was clearly room for improvement; our mystery shopping exercise in 2010 showed disappointing results for Motor Codes garages. 

Motor Codes mystery shopped

Last year, we put servicing codes to the test by booking 62 cars in for a service with a selection of garages around Britain. Seventeen of these garages were affiliated to Motor Codes, 15 to the Bosch Service scheme (which already had OFT approval), 15 to the Good Garage Scheme and 15 were independent.

We introduced four deliberate, easily-fixed faults that any competent mechanic should spot to each car: deflated spare and nearside rear tyres, brake fluid at the minimum level and a blown reversing light bulb. Finally, we filled up the screenwash as an ‘honesty test’, to see how many garages charged us for it anyway.

Comparing the codes, Bosch garages finished first, fixing 64% of our introduced faults. Motor Codes came a close second, with 60% of faults fixed. But that still meant Motor Codes technicians missed 40% of these basic – and potentially dangerous – problems.

Also, Motor Codes garages were easily the worst offenders in the screenwash test, with 11 out of 17 charging for a product that wasn’t necessary.

Positive progress

Despite the failings of its garages in 2010, the OFT approval is undoubtedly a positive step for Motor Codes.

Colin Brown, director of consumer policy at OFT, describes the move as, ‘one of the most important developments in consumer protection in car service and repair for many years’. He added: ‘Motor Codes has demonstrated a commitment to transparency and scrutiny amongst its members, making it simpler for motorists to make an informed choice’.

Tim Pitt from the Which? Car team said: ‘We will definitely be mystery shopping Motor Codes garages again. Let’s hope OFT approval translates into higher standards for customers’.  

Garage reviews from more than 25,000 motorists are visible on the Motor Codes website..

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