The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders is telling UK new car buyers to expect higher standards of customer care from car makers now that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has fully approved its New Car Code of Practice.

The SMMT-sponsored code is the first in any industry to gain ‘Stage Two approval’ and can now bear the coveted OFT logo.

Full approval comes after SMMT members demonstrated a commitment to tough new OFT criteria for all industry codes. These were laid down by the OFT to tighten consumer protection and offer peace of mind to consumers dealing with a xode subscriber.

For car makers this meant new measures such as the regular monitoring of conduct and financial penalties for those who fail to deliver. The new code also clearly sets out its stall by making a set of promises from manufacturers directly to car buyers. Key measures include ensuring the delivery of high quality products, offering water-tight warranties, availability of replacement parts, advertising and complaints handling.

The code will be distributed to more than a million new car buyers in its first year of operation.

SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan claimed: “Car makers have raised their game and created a code of practice with teeth. The Office of Fair Trading demanded a more robust code and the industry has delivered. We are committed to this tough new regime which can only be good news for the consumer.”

The award of Stage Two marks the final step. It is given only after a code subscriber has supplied the OFT with evidence that members are operating the code’s principles in practice.

“Car makers have demonstrated that there is a genuine will to improve customer care and we hope this serves as an example to others,” Macgowan added.

All volume car makers are signed up to the code, as are the vast majority of smaller manufacturers. 99.7% of the 2.5 million new cars sold in the UK market a year will be underpinned by the code’s provisions.