What's All the Talk About Right to Repair Laws?

Wondering about the Right to Repair Act? The basic premise is simple. Independent repair shops aren't getting access to the information they need to repair new cars until years after the model is released in some cases.

The independent repair shops say that the playing field is uneven because they aren't being given access to the technology and information they need to properly repair new cars, which then forces new car owners to take their cars to the dealer for repair and maintenance.

The information the independent repair shops need includes things like specs, computer program information, and any special tools that may be needed to fix a piece of new technology or model year change.

There are two sides to every story, of course. The independent repair shops feel that they have a right to repair -- hence the name of the movement -- your car, or in other words car owners should have the right to choose whether they want their new car repaired at the dealer or at an independent repair shop. The automakers don't see why they should be required to release their propietary information to the public until they are ready to. After all, they paid for all the research and development to get the technology, why should they have to open up their books to the world?

There is lots more information on RightToRepair.org, but here is the gist of it straight from the horse's mouth. The crew at RightToRepair.org have been fighting on behalf of independent mechanics for years.

Here's what they say:

 

The Right to Repair Act is bipartisan legislation that would require automakers to provide the same service information and tools to independent auto and maintenance shops, as well as to consumers, that the automaker dealership service centers receive.

- It further instructs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to provide oversight and enforcement of the bill.


- As a means of protecting intellectual property, the legislation states that the manufacturers’ proprietary information will not have to be disclosed.
- Right to Repair legislation does not attempt to restrict motorists from choosing car dealerships, it simply ensures that vehicle owners have a choice when deciding where to take their vehicles for repairs and what parts are best to use in maintaining their vehicles.

The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association and the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality urge Congress to support the Right to Repair Act to give consumers a choice and keep repair costs down. It's the right thing to do for consumers, for business and the economy. Global Right to Repair
The European Union has passed Right to Repair and an aggressive effort is currently underway in Canada. Right to repair is clearly a global issue whose time has come.

What Right to Repair Does:

- Reaffirms the owners’ right to repair their automobile and keep their families safe.
- Promotes consumer safety by allowing owners or their auto technicians’ access to the computers that control the systems and components that affect the safe operation of their automobiles.
- Permits owners to choose the repair shop and the replacement parts to service and maintain their vehicles.


- Authorizes the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to promulgate regulations to protect consumers and to promote competition in auto maintenance and repair.

What It Does Not Do

- It does not take a manufacturer’s intellectual property. - It does not affect the dealer’s warranty agreement with the vehicle manufacturers.
- It does not require manufacturers to disclose manufacturing processes or trade secrets.

Why Do We Need Right to Repair?

Current automotive technology is being used to successfully "lock out" car owners from being able to repair and maintain their own vehicles. Modern automobiles contain many computers that control virtually every component such as the braking system, steering mechanism, air bags, ignition, climate control system, dome and check engine lights, fuel injection, tire pressure, and some oil and tire changes.

Lacking the ability to "talk" to the cars' computers, owners or their auto technicians cannot accurately diagnose mechanical problems or install safe and reliable replacement parts that are compatible with the vehicles' computers.

This means that later model cars can only be serviced and repaired at automobile dealerships, which makes shopping around for the best prices and most convenient service locations impossible.

When forced to return to the dealership for service and repair, consumers are denied competitive prices and the right to choose where, how and by whom to have their vehicles repaired and may be denied more reasonable prices and more convenient locations.