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What Car? Helpdesk - How Motor Codes can help you

Motor Codes is the industry watchdog that can help solve car problems

Words ByMatthew Burrow

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Motor Codes is a government backed body set up by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. It is also approved to act as an Alternative Dispute Resolution body.

What does it do?

It operates codes of practice that its subscribers, who are car makers, garages and warranty providers, agree to adhere to.

There are currently three codes: the New Car Code, the Service and Repair Code and the Vehicle Warranty Products Code.

Motor Codes also offers a free advice service to consumers. If you have any questions about, or issues with, a company that is signed up to one of its codes of practice, you can contact it for free information and advice. In this capacity, it is an independent body that investigates issues within the motor industry and aims to resolve issues between consumers and its subscribers.

Who is signed up to it?

The majority of car manufacturers have agreed to the New Car Code. Those that haven’t are mostly luxury or supercar manufacturers, although Infiniti, MG and Ssangyong are also absent from the list. Despite these missing manufacturers, 99% of new cars sold in the UK are covered by the New Car Code.

More than 7000 garages are signed up to the Service and Repair Code and about 70% of warranty providers abide by the Vehicle Warranty Products Code. You can find out which garages and warranty providers are signed up to the codes of practice at www.motorcodes.co.uk.

What is the New Car Code?

It is a set of guidelines on how car manufacturers will use advertising, how they will handle new car warranties and the availability of replacement parts and how they will handle complaints. Overall, it aims to make the car buying and owning process as straightforward as possible for consumers, at the same time as providing consumers and the motor industry protection and an arbitration advice.

The warranty guidelines are of particular interest for consumers. They allow cars to be serviced at independent garages without voiding the manufacturer’s warranty, as long as the car is serviced to the car maker’s specification and within the correct timeframe. Should you wish to go down this route, make sure you get a receipt to prove all work has been carried out to specification. If work is not done to the correct specification, it could mean any subsequent vehicle failure is not covered by the warranty.

The New Car Code also stipulates that car makers will have enough spare parts for new cars. If your car needs a repair and you’re told that it will take a long time to get the necessary parts, contact Motor Codes. There is no fixed guideline on the timeframe for the availability of parts, but the conciliation service should be useful in this scenario.

What doesn’t it cover?

Currently, there is no conciliation service for any issues that occur during the process of buying a new car. Should an issue arise at the point of sale, you will have to seek legal advice. However, you should also contact Motor Codes because it should be able to offer guidance.

Is Motor Codes just for new cars?

The New Car Code is only for new vehicles, but the Service and Repair and the Vehicle Warranty Products Codes also apply to older cars.

What assistance does the Service and Repair Code give?

The aim is to improve customer satisfaction with garages and give small businesses access to an arbitration service. Its garages act in an honest, fair way, and offer transparent pricing and an easy-to-understand complaints procedure.

What is the Vehicle Warranty Products Code?

This code covers the sale and administration of more than three million aftersales products, including extended warranties, roadside assistance and MoT test insurance.

What is the complaint process?

All three codes provide consumers with a straightforward complaint procedure. Here’s how it works and what consumers need to do:

1. Write down a detailed log of your complaint, including when the problem started, who you contacted and the resulting actions. Send this to the manager of the relevant service provider: the dealer principal in the case of a new car, or the service manager or director of a garage.

2. If you do not get a satisfactory resolution, contact the car maker’s customer relations department. If this does not solve the problem, you should then contact Motor Codes.

3. Motor Codes will look into the case for free. It will act as an intermediary between you and the other party and aim to get a satisfactory outcome for both parties as quickly as possible.

4. If the case is more complicated and a resolution cannot be reached through conciliation, Motor Codes offers an arbitration service. This is a quick, low-cost service with a legally binding outcome. However, it’s worth noting that if you agree to arbitration you won’t be able to speak to magazines or websites about the case if you’re unhappy with the outcome.

What if I have a complaint about a non-Code motor company?

Motor Codes can still offer advice, but nothing is legally binding and there is no access to free arbitration.

What’s the car owners obligation regarding the codes?

You need to follow the guidance in your car’s owner’s manual and ensure the car is maintained in accordance with recommendations.

Contact Motor Codes on 0843 910 9000 or visit www.motorcodes.co.uk

Got a car-related problem you can’t resolve? Get in touch with Matthew Burrow at Helpdesk@whatcar.com with your name, contact information, details of the problem plus photos, and we’ll try to help