ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill.-If the automotive repair industry wants to maintain a trustworthy profile with the public, it must establish a ``credible self-enforcement program.'' That was the message delivered by Minnesota Attorney General Hubert H. Humphrey III to attendees at a Feb. 16 meeting of the Maintenance Awareness Program (MAP), an industrywide coalition focused on educating consumers about their vehicles' service needs.
Stating that the industry needs to monitor compliance with MAP's voluntary guidelines, Mr. Humphrey said government implementation of more rules and regulations ``only breeds distrust,'' and that the industry ``must set moral and quality standards.''
According to MAP, Mr. Humphrey recommended the industry not only set, but enforce such standards through a national self-policing effort, while leaving ``the bad guys to the (government) regulators.''
The attorney general praised the efforts of coalition participants, MAP said, for developing a tangible and specific program to address concerns of motorists who bring their cars to service shops for repairs. The program, he said, will help produce an ``informed and educated public who can discern between good and poor work.''
States generally do not seek service shop licensing because the ``bureaucratic costs are too high''-voluntary programs are better, Mr. Humphrey said. However, ``If efforts like MAP do not work,'' mandatory licensing will result, he stated in answer to a question.
Meanwhile, MAP is lending its support to ``On the go and in the know,'' a workshop to help consumers understand automobiles. It will be held Thursday, April 28, at Delaware Technical & Community College in Newark, Del.
During a session on sales and repairs of new and used cars, MAP service provider companies will cover various topics, including selecting qualified repair and diagnostic facilities, getting accurate estimates, how rates are set, communicating effectively, and consumer rights and responsibilities.
Other sessions will discuss: air conditioning and recycling; two- and four-wheel alignments; proper tire repair; under-the-hood ``geographics''; dispute resolution programs and options; fraud prevention and reporting; and tough issues facing the industry and consumers, including emission standards and maintenance, oxygenated fuels and cars of the future.
MAP's ranks are composed of service providers, associations and automotive aftermarket parts manufacturers including Montgomery Ward & Co., Midas International Corp., Sears, Roebuck and Co., Goodyear, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., and Monro Muffler/Brake.
The coalition's ``pledge to customers'' is:
That a shop's recommendations will be clearly explained and based on system failure, improved system performance or preventive maintenance according to industry standards;
That personnel will be properly trained and qualified to identify and perform an accurate and complete inspection and service of vehicle systems;
That a written estimate will be provided and no work will be performed without a prior authorization; and
That a written limited warranty will be included at no additional cost.