Service, Maintenance and Repair during the Warranty Period

Since 1st June 2010, with the application of EU Regulation 461/2010, and upon the expiration of Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation 1400/2002, four key texts have been designed to ensure that effective competition applies in the automotive aftermarket. Two of these contain sector specific rules, whereas the two others contain general rules applicable to all industry sectors:

The sector-specific rules:

  • The Automotive Block Exemption Regulation (EU) No. 461/2010
  • The Sector-specific Guidelines on vertical restraints in Agreements for the sale and repair of motor vehicles and for the distribution of spare parts for motor vehicles

The generic rules:

  • The Vertical Restraints Block Exemption Regulation (EU) No. 330/2010
  • The general Guidelines on vertical agreements

Service, maintenance and repair during the warranty period

The key concept in its Explanatory Brochure on the MVBER 1400/2002 is that independent repairers may carry out regular maintenance service and repair jobs during the warranty period. Despite this clarification many vehicle manufacturers have continued to make warranty claims of vehicle owners universally dependent upon the condition that all services and repairs have been carried out by the authorized network, and with the exclusive use of the vehicle manufacturer’s spare parts.

One of the major improvements in the new competition law framework in comparison with the expired Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation 1400/2002 is the clarification by the European Commission that vehicle manufacturers may not make the warranties conditional on the repair and servicing of a vehicle within their network, or on the use of their own branded spare parts. According to the new set of rules, consumers have the right to use any repair shop for non warranty work, during both the statutory warranty period (2 years in most EU member states) and any extended warranty period.

Of course, every operator is subject to statutory product and service liability. Thus, anyone who damages a vehicle as a result of negligent work or use of defective parts is responsible for it.

Recall actions, Free servicing and Warranty work

Within the warranty period, any defect originating from the car manufacturing process must be corrected by the vehicle manufacturer. Normally, the network of authorized repairers will execute the work on behalf of the vehicle manufacturer, and at the network’sown expense.

In such cases, where the works are paid by the manufacturer, i.e. recall actions or free servicing or warranty works etc., the works must be carried out where specified by the manufacturer. In those cases, the manufacturer may also determine which parts are to be used.