Mendax News Service
The governing board of The American Mechanics Association proposed at its annual meeting to push for legislation to require prescriptions for certain automotive supplies. The AMA has long recognized that the average consumer lacks the competence to decide what services and remedies should be applied to his motorized vehicle.
In the present situation, anybody can buy oil, filters, anti-freeze, transmission fluid, drive belts, windshield washer cleaner and myriad other items with no authorization required. Most items such as tires, wiper blades, water, compressed air, car wax, fuses, trim items and, of course, gasoline would remain over-the-counter items under the proposal.
It has long been a concern of many mechanics that consumers use the wrong oil or improperly dispose of anti-freeze or dump used filters in the garbage, causing untold environmental damage. The AMA stressed that this is a very real and immediate crisis and that its proposal has nothing to do with money, as some of its detractors are already alleging.
The advocates of the status quo are already dreaming up nightmare scenarios where consumers would be charged exorbitant prices for office visits to obtain a prescription for something that they knew from reading a dipstick was needed without a mechanic having to prescribe it.
The AMA counters that it can sympathize with that argument and that some people are competent to determine their own needs, but not all and that the prescription system will make the roads a safer and happier place for everybody. The AMA also argues that since every car needs oil, all cars will be periodically seen by a competent mechanic and can be removed from service if found to be unsafe.
A coalition of auto parts suppliers has agreed to support the proposal as long as the mechanic writing the prescription cannot sell the product prescribed. The coalition sees the potential for unnecessary prescriptions if the mechanic is able to circumvent the auto parts supplier.
Mendax News has been unable to discover a consensus among the oil companies, but it is thought by some that they will have no objection as long as the law does not decrease sales revenue. Others say that the whole scheme is a "conspiracy" by the AMA to force motorists to patronize mechanics, thus ensuring steady repeat business.
The AMA has countered that any intimation of a conspiracy borders on calumny, that its interest is strictly safety and proper maintenance coupled with concern for the environment. An AMA spokesman complained that some people see a pecuniary motive for everything, even when the true motivation is concern for others.
If the proposal becomes law it will ensure a battle over prohibiting online purchases from foreign suppliers and local black markets in auto supplies.