SACRAMENTO (June 14, 2016) — Major auto aftermarket and service organizations, including the Tire Industry Association, are opposing a California state bill they argue would set unrealistic restrictions on vehicle oil changes within the state.
The California Senate passed Senate Bill 778 by a 22-12 vote on Jan. 25, 2016. The bill is now before the California Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection.
As amended June 9, SB 778 would require all oil change shops to register as automotive repair dealers (ARDs) with the California Department of Consumer Affairs' Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).
Also, the bill would require all ARDs to recommend to consumers that the date or mileage of their next oil change should follow the interval or mileage specified in the vehicle manufacturer's published maintenance schedule, with certain exceptions.
According to the bill summary on the California legislature website, the bill among other things would:
- Define oil changes and vehicle lubrication as “repairs” under state law;
- Require ARDs to recommend that oil change intervals follow manufacturers' recommendations in their published maintenance schedules;
- Allow ARDs to deviate from published maintenance schedules if they state the reason on the invoice or a document attached to the invoice;
- Specify that customers are not prohibited from choosing their own oil change intervals; and
- Require ARDs to state the following on invoices or documents attached to invoices: “It is important to change your oil at the proper intervals. Your vehicle manufacturer publishes oil change intervals in your owner's manual and on the manufacturer's website.”
TIA and other organizations — including the California Retailers Association, the Auto Care Association, the Automotive Oil Change Association and the Service Station Dealers of America — have written members of the California State Senate saying they will oppose SB 778 unless it is amended to reflect the true parameters of auto manufacturers' oil change recommendations and how they affect consumer safety and warranty rights.
According to the June 13 edition of TIA's Weekly Legislative Update, SB 778 must be amended to establish an oil change service interval reporting guideline that won't harm consumers.
The points that must be clarified, according to TIA, are:
- Service intervals represent a range, not a goal to attain;
- The longest service intervals aren't applicable to drivers with the most common driving habits; and
- Most consumer ignore “home” maintenance obligations designed to uncover problems with consumption and leakage between oil change services.
“A high mileage number on service intervals looks great and feels like a promise, but it isn't,” TIA said.
“In the context of warranty coverage, an auto maker's oil change interval indicates the maximum mileage after which the auto maker can void the warranty for failure to uphold necessary maintenance obligations,” the association said.
Most California drivers would fall within the “severe” service category of most auto makers, just because of regular, stop-and-go traffic, according to TIA. The June 9 amendments to SB 778 acknowledge the existence of the severe service category, it said, but they don't go far enough to protect the safety and financial investments of California drivers.
One of the most common “home” maintenance obligations in vehicle warranties — checking the oil at every fuel stop — is rarely if ever met, according to TIA. But because of hotter-running engines and the prevalence of ethanol, auto makers have good reason to include that stipulation, it said.
“If consumers do not intend to engage in required and/or recommended maintenance on their own, which means there will be no eyes on the engine in between oil changes, then it is irresponsible for the legislature to confuse or pressure them into extending their oil change intervals or to suggest that their service providers are somehow acting with intent to defraud if they recommend otherwise,” TIA said.