Why is there widespread public distrust of auto motive service outlets in general? One reason, we believe, is the absence of industrywide standards and procedures for the repair and maintenance of motor vehicles.
Without such guidelines, technicians have few, if any, standards to follow when servicing vehicles. As a result, motorists encounter differing recommendations-from honest repair shops-as to how to correct their vehicles' problems, and, of course, different estimates of the repair or service cost with each new shop visited.
Add to this the motorist's typical lack of appreciation for preventive maintenance plus the fact that automotive service has a few unscrupulous practitioners, and it's easy to understand why consumers feel they are getting ripped off and attorneys general and others regard the industry with suspicion.
But this is changing, thanks to the efforts of the Maintenance Awareness Program (MAP), which recently formed its own organization under the official name, the Automotive Maintenance & Repair Association.
Bethesda, Md.-based MAP was formed out of a coalition of concerned industry organizations and companies that came together two years ago following allegations of service fraud against Sears, Roebuck and Co. It is developing uniform installer guidelines for various types of services for use by service personnel. Adherence to these guidelines is voluntary. But those who belong to the association agree to follow them in their daily business practices.
So far, MAP has issued service guidelines for automotive brakes and antilock brakes as well as exhaust systems. Meanwhile, it is preparing similar ones for the vehicle's electrical, mechanical and heating/cooling systems. Eventually, guidelines will be issued for all vehicle systems-including tires and wheels.
Such guidelines are long overdue and will go a long way toward providing standardized automotive service nationwide. Dealers and other service providers will be wise to encourage MAP's efforts and to adopt and follow the group's guidelines in their own businesses.