Right to Repair Laws Controversy

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Dealer authorized repair shops have access to software and TSB data to safely repair your car. Independent shops don’t. Seems like a quick fix, not so fast.

Right to Repair Laws Controversy

Cars are getting more and more complicated to repair - will right to repair laws help or hurt?

Independent shops have been fighting for a while now to get the same software and repair information that dealerships get. They see it as a simple issue; they just want a level playing field.

Massachusetts Bill 2517 that recently cleared their state senate and is now on the way to the state house addresses this issue. It reads:

The manufacturer of a motor vehicle sold in the commonwealth shall make available for purchase to independent motor vehicle repair facilities and motor vehicle owners in a non­discriminatory basis and cost as compared to the terms and costs charged to an authorized dealer or authorized motor vehicle repair facility all diagnostic, service and repair information that the manufacturer makes available to its authorized dealers and authorized motor vehicle repair facilities in the same form and the same manner as it is made available to authorized dealers or an authorized motor vehicle repair facility of the motor vehicle.

A recent AP story says that the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition, which represents more than 1,000 Massachusetts mechanics supporting the legislation, spokesman Art Kinsman said “it would provide mechanics and car owners the ability to purchase all repair information. As a result, he said, consumers will have more options for service, including do-it-yourself repairs.”

“If they can’t get all of the information, do they ever really own their car?” he said.

However, this recent legislation and a national bill has been met with stiff opposition from manufactures and even a few independent mechanics. Why? Two reasons.

First, is that opponents such as Daniel Gage spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufactures say there has always been a right to repair in place and “it’s up to the person or shop to invest in the tools and training.”

Second, China. The issue as they see it is that this information would make it easier for knock-off parts to be built by the Chinese.

According to a story on TheTruthAboutCars.com, another AAM’s spokesman Charles Territo said “The passage of this legislation would set a dangerous precedent that could have a devastating impact on our economy. It would result in manufacturing jobs going overseas to places like China where the production of knock-off auto parts is big business.”

And what about some of the independent mechanics that oppose it. The New England Service Station & Automotive Repair Association Roger Montbleau says “It has become clear that this bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This bill will supposedly give independent repair businesses access to repair information and tools that car dealerships have at a similar price. Well, repairers can already do that.”

What gives then? Is the sharing of information a good thing for consumers and repair shops? And should there be more parity among repairers?

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Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. LJC says:

    Aren’t some replacment and productions already made in China?

    • Jason (Admin) says:

      You know it! I think your point is excellent – fears of this bill “taking away jobs” are unfounded.

  2. Jason (Admin) says:

    My issue with this type of legislation is that it’s unfair to dealers.

    – Dealers are required to invest millions of dollars in a facility that meet’s the manufacturer’s specs. An independent mechanic can work out of his or her garage.

    – Dealers have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on factory-spec repair tools, manuals, and training classes. Independent mechanics don’t have to spend a dollar on training, and they can use any tools they like.

    – Dealers are accountable to the factory for customer service. Independent shops have no fear of reprisal if/when they screw a customer.

    – Dealers have to carry million dollar liability policies that pay for vehicles damaged during repair. Independents? Not so much.

    Ultimately, dealers are held to a higher standard than independent shops and are therefore entitled to some advantages.

    If the legislature wants to give independent shops all the same tools and info that dealers have, than the legislature ought to make the independent repair shops carry healthy liability policies, invest in continuing training and education, and empower regulators to close down shops that have too many customer complaints. That way, things will be fair.

  3. Mickey says:

    Sorry still go to dealership instead of Joe’s shack’em and stack’em. I take my truck now 38 milkes to a Toyota dealership in Brunswick since the grandson works there. I have him work on my truck while he’s in training/school. To me it’s a win/win situation. Grandson gets the business and experience and I get peace of mind that dealership covers their work. Did I mention I also got a discount from him working there? It justs works out for me.

    • Jason (Admin) says:

      Mickey – We’re on the same page…I don’t let anyone work on my car(s) unless they’re trained on that model and backed by a national company. That means dealerships only. Now if I owned something 12+ years old, I’d probably go to an independent, but only because most dealers don’t have parts for those older cars anyways.

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