Motorists could see the cost of car repair bills soar from next year under new European Union rules.
Brussels is considering a ban on independent garages being allowed to fit cheaper components, insisting they use more expensive manufacturer-branded parts instead. Britain is set to impose the same rules. This could see the average car repair bill rise by £100 for drivers who use independent garages, which will hit low-income owners of older cars hardest.
The EU is consulting on the 'block exemption rules' that allow smaller garages to fit cheaper aftermarket parts. Britain will follow these rules automatically as part of its post-Brexit agreement. UK vehicle parts suppliers are calling on regulators to intervene to stop the rule coming in here.
The Competition and Markets Authority is in talks with the Government about the rules, which expire in 2023 – so drivers could face higher costs in under two years. A final decision on whether we will follow the new EU rules will be made by the Business Secretary.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said that the proposed change of rules on car parts may not automatically apply as the UK 'does not automatically follow EU competition rules', adding: 'The Business Secretary will have to make a decision on whether the rules are beneficial to the UK, following the recommendation of the Competition and Markets Authority and a public consultation.'
The UK has around 30,000 small independent garages employing 350,000 mechanics. Statistics say that UK motorists are happier with independent garages than main dealers. The average servicing satisfaction score was 92.6 per cent last year for independents, with franchised garages operated by car makers scoring just 87.1 per cent.
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