Suzanne Sheridan (SIMI) Noel Brett (RSA) and SIMI President Gerry Caffrey launch the new initiative. Pic: Paul Sharp/Sharppix

THE Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) has launched SIMI Autosure Professional Register (SIMI APR), a new scheme to professionalize car servicing in Ireland.

According to a recent survey, two thirds of motorists are putting off their car service because they cannot afford it.

President of SIMI, Gerry Caffrey said, “There are a lot of drivers out there who don’t get their car serviced because there’s nothing visibly wrong with it.  Many wait until something serious goes wrong, such as engine or a brake failure. That’s when it’s often too late and the cost to fix the vehicle far outweighs the cost of the initial service.

“It is understandable that people are looking to save money where they can. It may seem like an unnecessary spend when money is tight but regular car servicing will save you money in the long term.

There has been a big increase in untrained and illegal operators at the fringes of our Industry offering to service cars. While it may seem like a bargain at the time, often the work carried out by such operators is to a poor standard, which could leave a car in dangerous condition and the owner out of pocket when something goes wrong with their car.”

Cars have become increasingly complex and in need of very specific servicing expertise, even using the wrong grade of oil can seriously damage a modern engine.

Similar to the RECI scheme currently in operation for Electrical Contractors, only qualified technicians can sign off on service work carried out. Parts that need replacement will be kept to show the necessity of such replacement, which will only be done on the customer’s specific instructions, and only original car parts, or parts of matching quality, will be used.

After the service work is signed off by a qualified technician, an SIMI APR sticker with the current year will be placed on the window of the car, to show that it was serviced to the highest possible standard. A record over time of adhering to such professional servicing should also ensure a much greater value on the vehicle when the time comes to trade it in.

“Getting the SIMI APR sticker on your car will be a stamp of quality; an assurance that the car was maintained to the highest possible standard, by the highest qualified technicians in the Industry” says Mr Caffrey.

Noel Brett, CEO of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) said, “The RSA fully welcomes the SIMI APR scheme which will help motorists understand why getting their annual service is so important, not only from an economical point of view but from a road safety aspect. Badly worn tyres and brakes can make a car a lethal weapon and when you consider the consequences of some car crashes, simple maintenance and regular servicing is absolutely necessary.

“There has been a sharp rise in the sale of part worn tyres and second hand parts recently. Unbeknownst to the motorist, these could have been used on a car that was previously involved in a crash and beyond the point at which they could be safely used, you just don’t know. In addition, the driver will not know how such parts will perform under use and we know that many are seriously substandard.”

“We urge people to get their car serviced to the high standard set out in this initiative, which will ensure that if any problems are developing in your car, they can be detected and fixed before they become a serious problem”.

Mr Caffrey added, “I’m aware that in these financially challenging times, motorists can often be apprehensive about the costs of getting their car serviced.

“With SIMI APR, when a quotation is given in advance and it becomes apparent that extra work or parts are required, the garage should always contact the customer first before proceeding with the work. If there is an issue with any work carried out by an SIMI member garage, customers can avail of the free, independent complaints service on offer by the SIMI.”

Under the SIMI APR scheme, the customer will receive an information leaflet after the service has been carried out and information on the specific work carried out on their vehicle.  Motorists should look out for the SIMI APR logo when they go to get their next service.