As 2008 begins, the drone of legislation aimed at hampering efforts of independent repair shops to compete against new car dealerships continues.
The latest issue-so-called ``super warranties'' that are contained in most state ``clean car'' bills.
These are provisions that extend the warranties on vehicle emissions control equipment for essentially the expected life of a vehicle-usually 15 years or 150,000 miles.
What this does, in effect, is tighten the service relationship between vehicle owners and new car dealerships, a situation that should concern every independent tire dealership and automotive repair shop.
No less than the Automotive Service Association (ASA)-yes, that's the same organization that has fought vehemently against the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act-has identified clean car legislation as potentially harmful to the aftermarket.
The association maintains clean car legislation will tie a vehicle ``forever'' to the auto dealer's repair shop, not just for emissions work but for all repairs.
While that may be a bit extreme, any new legislation that extends the relationship between the vehicle owner and the new car dealership is a blow to the independent automotive service aftermarket and should be opposed.
The concern for independent dealerships is what happens when their customers return to a new car outlet when the service light for an emissions issue illuminates.
If they have a good experience at that dealership and happen to need tires, for example, why not get that work done as well to save time?
Then, as the ASA's Bob Redding states, ``We've lost that customer, probably in perpetuity.''
Clean car legislation still is relatively new. To date, 10 states have passed such bills: California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Two others have approved similar legislation but without super warranties.
The ASA also is fighting to keep super warranties out of clean car bills under consideration in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota and New Mexico.
Like the federal mandate for tire pressure monitoring systems, concerns about timely availability of technical information to repair vehicles and auto dealership expansion into tire sales, clean car legislation is one more encroachment on independent repairers' business.
Individually, these issues aren't enough to make much of a dent in the independent's market share, but together, they could hurt the bottom line over time.
Independent tire and repair shops and their supporting industry associations must stay vigilant against these challenges. If this trend concerns you, call or write your trade group today.