UK motorists could see the cost of repairing their cars skyrocket from 2023 under new rules to be introduced by the European Union.
Brussels is consulting on a ban for small independent garages from being able to install cheaper components on vehicles, demanding that they use more expensive manufacturer-brand parts instead.
And Britain is ready to follow suit and impose the same rules.
Experts have warned that this could see the average repair bill increase by around £ 100 for drivers using smaller independent garages, which is usually the case for low-income owners of older models which often go wrong and need to be repaired.
Repair bills could rise by £ 100 or more: New EU rules set to be passed in Britain could prohibit small independent garages like this from using spare parts to repair cars, this which means that drivers will have to pay extra to have the manufacturer’s brand components fitted
The EU is consulting on ‘block exemption rules’ which currently allow small garages to install cheaper spare parts that are not approved or sold by the manufacturer of the vehicle being repaired.
Britain will automatically follow these rules as part of a post-Brexit deal reached in EU exit negotiations.
UK auto parts suppliers are now calling on regulators to step in to prevent the rule from coming into force in the UK.
Andy Hamilton, CEO of Euro Car Parts, said The telegraph that the government must step in to overturn EU legislation, otherwise motorists will be forced to pay around £ 100 extra per year for vehicle repairs and maintenance.
He estimates it could cost UK drivers an additional £ 2.4bn in annual repair bills – and leave mechanics and garages at the mercy of big carmakers when it comes to price and component supply.
The Autorité de la concurrence et des marchés is said to be in talks with the government over the current rules, which are due to expire in 2023, meaning drivers could meet these higher costs in less than two years.
The final decision to go against the new EU rules will be taken by the business secretary, currently Kwasi Kwarteng.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told This is Money that the proposed change to auto parts would not apply automatically because the UK “does not automatically follow the news EU competition rules “.
However, they added: “The business secretary will decide whether the broader rules are beneficial for the UK or need to be changed, following a recommendation from the Competition and Markets Authority and its consultation public.”
Mr Hamilton said there is an urgent need for companies supplying and installing spare parts to understand what the CMA’s plans are. Otherwise, UK drivers “risk being drawn into a monopoly which will cost them almost £ 100 a year and much more in the future,” he said.
He went on to warn that the additional costs “would go directly into the hands of automakers – many of whom charge a hefty premium for repairing their vehicles” and could wipe out a number of small businesses.
Small independent garages tend to score higher for driver satisfaction than franchise repair centers operated by car manufacturers. This is usually due to the lower cost of invoices, as small businesses are allowed to install non-manufactured parts.
Currently, the UK has around 30,000 independent garages employing some 350,000 mechanics.
According to the latest What Car? among 13,000 UK motorists, car owners said they were more satisfied with independent garages than franchised shops.
The average auto maintenance satisfaction score for independents was 92.6 percent last year, while franchised garages operated by automakers scored 87.1 percent.
If enforced, EU rules will sting the lowest-income drivers the most.
This means that those who use older cars because they can’t afford a newer replacement will have to pay the same price for parts as a driver of a much newer vehicle.
And with older models suffering from more issues and wear and tear, that means owners of aging vehicles will have to pay those increased prices more often than those with lower mileage and newer engines.
News of a potential increase in repair costs comes at a time when drivers face high fuel costs, with gasoline prices rising for 32 consecutive weeks to reach an eight-year high exceeding £ 1.33 the liter.
The arrival of Clean Air Zones in cities – including Bath and Birmingham – and the extension of the very low emission zone of London from October are also expected to hit the purse strings of struggling motorists.
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