Opinion: VMs will kill-off independent garages unless we fight to protect data access

GW columnist Tim Benson has his say on UK's impending block exemption expiry

Opinion: VMs will kill-off independent garages unless we fight to protect data access
Image: Bigstock.

In response to the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulations’ impending expiration in May 2023, I feel that there is significant concern within the automotive aftermarket sector that needs to be addressed.

Tim Benson of Oldfields Garage in Leominster.

As an independent garage it is vital that we can retain the right to repair and maintain our customers’ vehicles, but I do empathise with manufacturers who make huge investments in developing vehicles.

With the potential law changes coming, the impact will be felt throughout the whole of the UK in the coming years.

I believe manufacturers will quietly go about snuffing out the independent garage sector unless we fight to protect our access to data, information and vehicle systems.

Individually it would be impossible for us to fight this cause, but collectively, with groups and bodies like the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF), we can lobby and push back to ensure there continues to be a level playing field for all garages for many years ahead.

Related: Annual MOT could be scrapped, Transport Secretary suggests in bid to cut cost of living

Personally, I feel it is right that we should commit to investing in our businesses and technicians to ensure that we can carry out work to the standard expected by a manufacturer.

There should be a level of vetting to ensure that vehicles are worked on by suitable competent garages.

This should however be accessible.

Related: Competition and Markets Authority to review Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation

I can understand that vehicle manufacturers wish to protect their dealership network but preventing customers from choosing another provider is unreasonable and unfair.

Independent garages need to continue to be allowed access to correct technical information at a fair price and vehicle systems should not be blocked for repair by suitably competent garages, to enable us to continue to provide a high value proposition that’s a real alternative to main dealers.

Only then can vehicle owners, our customers, have fair choice.

Share your comments below.


  1. Correct jagwar landfill car company are deliberately making immboliser data in other modules and deliberately making it IMPOSSIBLE to code keys aftermarket.

    Likewise it effectively stopping you working/doing anything on YOUR

    Of course general public don’t see it that way. Their washing machine door handle breaks, they buy USED one off eBay fit it, it works.

    Comes to their car door wont lock, window (soldifed sand) wont work
    Needs new module £160 then has to be online coded by dealership
    Who has hourly rate of £240 (lexus somewhere), then jo public moan
    About the cost. Not our doing, they brought the car not us.

    So the person who decides this online coding finds there dog chews tv remote, no longer serviced my manufacturer, goes on eBay
    New one £4 delivered with batteries working out the bag!

    Rulez for one rulez for another.
    Of course you try ringing these companies and nobody cares MG dont reply to tweets or answer the phone!

  2. I 100% agree with all of Tim’s sentiments. We need information and he is right, and we need professional bodies to fight the cause. It is also an ideal opportunity to ensure those independents that receive the information have the training and standards that allow us to carry out this work competently. Technology has developed exponentially over the last 20 years. We’ve gone from a time where you would adjust the points to modern machines with complex electrical circuits running through the CAN bus. We now are on the verge of driverless cars and already have some of the tech in cars on the road today. Can we really continue with an unregulated industry, yet demand unfettered access to information.

  3. Completely agree. However, remote access to the vehicle, together with the VM’s cybersecurity requirements are the most critical threat to the independent aftermarket and this needs to be included in the revised MV-BER, but these are complicated requirements and the time scale for including updates to the MV-BER is now very short (July 2023) in legislative terms. Never before has there been a time when the UK Aftermarket needs to unite and fight for our future.


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