It is a nonprofit association that was formed to address consumer and industry concerns about auto repair issues. MAP promotes voluntary "uniform inspection guidelines" as well as a "code of ethics" as a means of improving service and the industry's image to the public.
The MAP organization evolved as a response to allegations that the auto repair industry was ripping people off and selling a lot of parts and services that were not necessary. The issue came to a head in 1992 when a large automotive retail chain store ran afoul of the authorities in California for allegedly overselling unnecessary brake work and other repairs. The investigation snowballed and soon the retailer was facing possible legal action in a number of states all across the country. Congress even got into the act by holding a series of hearings to look into the issue of auto repair fraud, and specifically the practice of "incentive compensation" (paying a commission) to employees for selling parts and services. There was even talk of outlawing the system of commission pay altogether for any type of automotive parts or service work!
The auto retailer in question along with much of the rest of the auto repair industry was running scared, and rightly so. The last thing anybody wanted was more government rules and regulations, especially ones that would likely be ill-conceived and poorly written by people who knew nothing about auto repair. So under the umbrella of the Automotive Parts and Accessories Association, the original MAP organization was formed.
MAP originally stood for "Maintenance Awareness Program." The coalition of members included many of the domestic and import vehicle manufacturers, retail chain store parts and service providers, parts manufacturers and others. The group's original goals were to (1) take the heat off the auto repair industry by directly addressing consumer concerns over repair abuse, (2) to develop a code of ethics for the auto repair industry, (3) to do something about the repair industry's tarnished public image, and (4) to develop standardized or "uniform inspection guidelines" designed to protect consumers against repair abuse and to also help technicians do a better job of servicing their customer's vehicles.
After months of committee meetings and wrangling, MAP met its objectives. The group succeeded in establishing an open dialogue with various governmental agencies. No new laws were passed that would pose additional regulatory burdens on the auto repair industry, and voluntary standards were adopted that addressed the issues of concern to consumers, namely a series of uniform inspection guidelines for various areas of the vehicle (see related question 132 for a list).
It's important to note that the guidelines were a monumental undertaking since no such standards had ever before been developed. Everyone had operated on the principle of "industry accepted practices" which varied widely. There were many disagreements over both minor and major points in the guidelines that had to be hammered out to everyone's satisfaction. Most of that work has been accomplished. But MAP says it is an ongoing process and will continue to be subject to review and possible change.
Another change that came about was that many automotive service retailers eliminated or revamped their employee incentive pay programs to reduce the chance for abuse. Most have also agreed to adhere to the code of ethics and to implement the uniform inspection guidelines to provide better service and customer satisfaction.
For additional information about MAP, or to obtain copies of the uniform inspection guidelines, contact:
808 17th Street NW, Suite 200
Washington, D.C. 20006