‘One stop shop’ for motoring advice open for business

14 July 2009 #SMMT News

  ·         One freephone number for consumer advice

  ·         Comprehensive and informative website launched

  ·         Three government-backed consumer protection schemes


From today, motorists can be confident of receiving fair and honest services from the automotive sector, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated industry body which has the backing of government and the consumer lobby. Announcing the launch of its new comprehensive website and the addition of another Code to bolster its armoury of consumer protection, Motor Codes Limited is proud to provide a robust method of delivering ever-increasingly high levels of customer service to motorists.


The website, which is now the central source of advice and information for motorists who need help and advice on a whole range of subjects – not just Codes of Practice – is supplemented by a freephone advice line 0800 692 0825 for when you need to talk to the experts.


Backed by the whole industry, government and the consumer lobby, Motor Codes was established last year to act as the self-regulatory body for the automotive sector and has been responsible for successfully operating two codes of practice which are now joined by a third scheme which covers warranty products – the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Warranty Products.


The three Motor Industry Codes of Practice offering consumers peace of mind are:


  • New Car Code
  • Service and Repair
  • Vehicle Warranty Products 

“Our self-regulation Codes are there to give protection and peace of mind to consumers by providing help and advice when needed, avoiding the complexities and anxieties associated with costly legislative processes,” said Motor Codes director, Chris Mason. “The majority of calls taken on our free consumer advice line are from people simply looking for timely advice on matters they are unsure of. All of our subscribers are committed to providing the highest level of customer service possible and we work hard to help them maintain that.”


Building on the success of the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair launched in August 2008, which already has the largest number of subscribers to any one industry Code, the additional enhancements announced today are designed to demonstrate the sector’s willingness to deliver the highest levels of customer service of any industry.


Trading Standards chief executive Ron Gainsford said, “The businesses that commit to these Codes are not only showing their commitment to treating their customers responsibly, they are also helping Trading Standards concentrate its efforts on tackling those operators who fail to step up to the mark. Motor Codes has set the bar for all those willing to take their customers’ interests seriously and we are delighted that we continue to see improvements such as those announced today.”


Which? motoring editor Richard Headland said, “From a consumer’s perspective, Which? is encouraged by the positive commitment shown by the motor industry to raising standards – and we hope Motor Codes can become a hallmark of quality that all drivers will recognise and trust. The launch of this comprehensive and informative website marks an important step in improving the image of the motor trade to its customers.”


Full details of Motor Codes Limited can be found at



Motor Industry Code of Practice for New Cars


The New Car Code of Practice, which has delivered improved standards of customer care to new car buyers since its launch in 2004, was brought into the Motor Codes family as a move towards giving consumers a one-stop shop for self-regulated codes of practice in the motor trade.


·         From 1976-2004 the Motor Industry Code of Practice was in place. This Code covered everything from new car advertising through to the sale of petrol, across three trade associations – SMMT, RMIF and SMTA. Because the Code was not maintained properly it became ineffectual and as a result, provided minimal levels of consumer protection.

·         With the introduction of the new OFT Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS) under the Enterprise Act 2002, the industry took the opportunity to review the situation. With this new CCAS, Code sponsors had to apply and enter into a two-stage approval process. Stage 1 is making the promise and meeting the OFT core criteria. Stage 2 is demonstrating that Code sponsors and subscribers to the Code can keep these promises and maintain core criteria standards.

·         SMMT members decided to develop a Code, independently from the RMIF and SMTA, purely for the new car sector. From 2002 until 2004, the new SMMT New Car Code of Practice was developed with members and alongside the OFT CCAS. Stage 1 approval was achieved on 2 June 2004, closely followed by Stage 2 approval on 21 September 2004 (official OFT launch took place on 7 December 2004).

·         Stage 2 approval means that Code subscribers are able to use the OFT logo on their customer relations stationery, website, leaflets etc – allowing consumers to see who is signed up to a government-backed, sector-specific voluntary Code of Practice.

·         With the formation of the SMMT New Car Code came the SMMT’s Regulation and Compliance Unit (RCU), which was set up to deal with the Consumer Codes Advice and Conciliation Service. As of 1 January 2009, SMMT RCU became Motor Codes Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SMMT Ltd. The company was formed as part of the process for the launch of the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair.


Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair


Responding to consumer concerns over pricing, quality of work and customer service, the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair commits subscribing garages to:

  • Honest and fair services
  • Open and transparent pricing
  • Completing work as agreed
  • Invoices that match quoted prices
  • Competent and conscientious staff
  • A straightforward, swift complaint procedure


And offers motorists:

  • An online search facility allowing consumers to locate their nearest subscribing garage
  • A free consumer advice line
  • Free conciliation and low cost, legally binding arbitration


Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Warranty Products


The Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Warranty Products commits subscribers to increasing consumer protection by setting new standards for non-insured warranty products including pre-sale information, cancellation rights and protected claims funds.


  • The SMMT Code of Practice for Mechanical Breakdown Insurance Schemes (MBI Code) ran from 1990.
  • By 1999 and following the introduction of Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) the majority of the MBI Code members were providing non insured warranty schemes alongside conventional MBI warranties. Non-insured warranties were not covered by the Code.
  • OFT endorsement removed from Code with the introduction of the new OFT Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS) under the Enterprise Act 2002.
  • Non-insured warranty sales have continued to increase following the introduction of general insurance regulation by the Financial Services Authority.
  • Following launch of the SMMT New Car Code of Practice in 2004 SMMT members decided to develop a Code to replace the MBI Code.
  • Between 2005 and 2009, the new Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Warranty Products was developed with MBI Code members and in line with the OFT CCAS. Stage 1 approval was achieved on 23 May 2009. 

For more information on Motor Codes Ltd, visit  


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