Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA) President Ray Datt expressed serious concerns about the findings in the Automobile Protection Association’s (APA) 2003 report on automotive repair facilities. Citing the study as fundamentally flawed, the AIA believes that the study should be considered only in that context and that a more fair and balanced study would help educate consumers and make the customer experience the best that it can be. The report providing the jumping off point for a story produced by the CTV newsmagazine W5. That story, broadcast April 11, gave a failing grade to more than half to the repair facilities presented with a vehicle repair problem. “Consumer education and better standards are goals that everyone in the industry supports, but there is an obligation by those in the media and the APA to present information in a balanced and informative way,” said Ray Datt, the AIA president. “We would welcome real and meaningful measurement in the industry that gives a true measure of its performance, unlike this particular study by APA.” The AIA believes the 2003 APA study is one-sided and unfair, with some serious flaws. The sample of shops visited is so small (one out of every 600) that it is not statistically valid and, therefore, cannot be used to extrapolate the findings to the entire industry. The aftermarket automotive business in Canada is made up of independent garages, chains and car dealerships with each representing approximately one-third of the market. The APA study focuses on national chains with little or no representation from the other two-thirds of the industry, including garages that have a relationship with APA. By purposely altering automotive equipment to create a problem that does not frequently happen in real life, AIA believes that the study test created results that do not portray an accurate reflection of the state of vehicle repair in the country. AIA does not believe this is a fair and reasonable test, and would prefer to see a test based on common vehicle repairs such as brakes or exhaust systems. AIA does not suggest that the industry is perfect, but over the past several years the association, in concert with a number of automotive-related associations, has worked on a variety of initiatives to address the problems of industry standards and consumer education that are addressed in the APA study. AIA and its members are actively working to address the problems identified in the study. AIA is concerned that negative and misleading stories such as this will continue to hamper the industry’s efforts to attract young people into the skilled trades, such as automotive service technicians. The sector council responsible for the automotive sector, the Canadian Automotive Repair and Service Council, predicts that there will be a shortage of automotive service technicians in the next five to ten years. The APA study erroneously represents statements made by AIA. The APA study calls for government intervention in the future. Consumer laws in each province, either specific to the automotive industry or protecting consumers generally, already exist to protect consumers in each province. In terms of finding a good automotive service technician, AIA, through Car Care Canada, like APA, advocates word of mouth referrals. The association also recommends consumers build a long-term relationship with their automotive repair outlet to build trust and confidence in their recommendations for repair. Finally, AIA recommends that motorists practice preventative vehicle maintenance on a regular basis to reduce the expense, time and inconvenience of vehicle repair. The best guidelines for determining when repairs need to be made is a vehicle owner’s manual – it recommends changing parts based on specific usage guidelines. By building a relationship with an automotive repair facility and practicing preventative vehicle maintenance it will reduce the odds that motorists will urgently need to have their vehicle repaired by repair facilities unknown to them.