New “Right to Repair” legislation introduced in the House of Representatives

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House Resolution 906, a new version of the “Right to Repair” Act, formally known as the “Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act,” has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Neal Dunn (R-FL), and co-sponsored by Representatives Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Warren Davidson (R-OH), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA).

The Right to Repair Act would ensure that all mechanics and repair shops, and not just new car dealers, have access to data and other information pertaining to vehicles’ onboard computers and other fixable features. Some manufacturers in the past have considered this information to be proprietary.

“When it comes to repairing their automobiles, consumers deserve options,” said Dunn. “The Repair Act would give owners, including the rural communities in my district, secure access to critical data so their chosen service center can replace parts and repair their vehicles.”

Auto mechanic working on motor closeup vertical
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“There are hundreds of neighborhood mechanics in Philadelphia,” said Boyle. “The last thing those small business owners need is to be boxed out of making a living. This legislation would not only protect the business relationships between automobile owners and their mechanics, but it also ensures consumers continue to have more options on where to go for repairs.”

“By prohibiting vehicle owners from accessing and sharing data they generate, manufacturers stop consumers from accessing third-party repair shops,” said Davidson. “American vehicle owners have a right to control their data, and a right to access third-party repair shops, tools, and parts.”

Repair restrictions, the bill’s sponsors say, can drive up auto repair costs and limit access to products and services. “Consumers need the ability to repair products anywhere, and independent repairers need access to a level playing field.” The sponsors say that the data pertaining to a buyer’s car should be property of the buyer, and that the buyer should have the right to make sure that data can be shared with the buyer’s chosen repair facility.

Car mechanic using computer in auto repair shop
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The first Right to Repair bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate and the House in August of 2001. The Senate bill described its goal as ending the “unfair monopoly” of car manufacturers maintaining unilateral control over repair information. It didn’t pass. The most recent federal failure of such a bill was in 2022. Multiple states have introduced similar bills, with Massachusetts being the first to pass such legislation in 2013.

The Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) has long been a proponent of the Right to Repair Act, and SEMA outlined key provisions of the newly-introduced bill. They include:

  • Prohibiting manufacturers from imposing technological or legal barriers that block aftermarket replacement part manufacturers from accessing critical information and tools necessary to develop inter-operable products with emerging vehicle technology.
  • Establishing the right for replacement part manufacturers and independent repair shops to access critical information, tools and equipment needed to maintain vehicles.
  • Requiring companies producing vehicles equipped with telematics to make any critical repair information and tools available to replacement part manufacturers and repair facilities at a fair and reasonable cost.
  • Providing vehicle owners with data and information wirelessly generated by their vehicles.
  • Establishing a right for vehicle owners to securely share their vehicle’s repair and maintenance data with their repairer of choice.

A comparable bill has not been introduced into the U.S. Senate so far this year.

In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report titled “Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions” which examined consumer protection and antitrust issues relating to repair restrictions, with particular emphasis on those imposed by mobile phone and car manufacturers.

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    “Some manufacturers in the past have considered this information to be proprietary.”

    Name two or three.

    Ever heard of NASTF? The VOLUNTARY agreement. Let the dumpy unlit caves from last century die. Poor ‘hood parts swappers in Philly too. Service info and OEM scan tools are readily available, right now.

    “Joe’s Hometown Service” needs to tool the eff up and specialize or he’s extinct.

    Two or three? How about an entire lobbying group. Members include: BMW, Ferrari, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, JLR, Karma, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Stellantis, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, VW (no surprise there) and Volvo.

    It’s not a matter of “Joe’s Hometown Service” tooling up or not (which, God knows how much that would cost) it’s a matter of maintaining a fair playing field for repair facilities that may not have the financial backing to get on these manufacturer’s level. But, if you want to be a corporate shill, go ahead. Not everyone can afford the shop labor rates at a franchised service department.

    Thank you. My words for this uneducated person. Factory scan tools are out of price range for a lot of independent shops and service information has been hidden in those scan tools by many manufacturers. This has made a mockery of the original REPAIR, and those that wrote it and voted it in.

    I did four years time in Philly for med school. I went to shops work on my cars, one resulted in a defective t/o bearing trashing the new clutch & when the mechanic test drove the vehicle, a 68 Chevelle he busted a motor mount, trying to run in the clutch; another routine service. missed servicing the wheel bearings. This resulted in a fried R F wheel bearing in Mexican Hat Arizona during a Banzai run so much for small shops in Philadelphia. I never let anybody touch my cars for several years after that! a bit different nowadays you do need a computer. All my new stuff goes to the dealers, I will still work on the old cars. Old war stories, aside, this is probably good legislation, although I’m not sure about the level of proprietary protection.

    “Uneducated”. Thank you!

    Each and every OEM in that Alliance (telematics battle in MA) provides the same service data, calibration files and TSB’s that the dealer receives. Today.

    Oh, but OE scan tools! “Out of price range” and has “hidden information”. Please.

    What’s cheaper, a laptop and a Ford or GM or Toyota subscription, actually understanding, theory, function, and OEM strategy or your way-lighting the parts cannon and throwing 3 alternators or fuel pumps and complaining about Chinese parts?

    There is no OR. To run a profitable shop you need a Ford AND GM AND Toyota (the list goes on..) subscription. Then you need the interface/pass through for the car and the laptop.

    It’s not a reasonable thing to expect independent mechanics in smaller population areas to specialize as there isn’t the customer base to support that.

    In larger population areas you have choice between the generalist, niche (i.e., Euro) or brand specialist. A high-end pampered sports car Audi you probably want the specialist. A 12 year old Audi commuter car on the 3rd owner you might trust a generalist but are probably safer taking a niche shop that at least sees Audi vehicles other than your own.

    Right to repair is important because it is falsely gated knowledge and access via electronics that is the issue. It has nothing to do with competency of the person performing the work. OEM parts vs. aftermarket is a different issue. Not everyone can afford OEM parts for their 9 year old vehicle. Get past 10 years and the supply may just dry up…

    My biggest issue with this is the name. Everyone has always had and still has the right to repair their cars. Right and ability are very different things. This is about the latter. Another facet here is the fact that modern cars are as much software as machines and as such a car buyer owns the software as much as a buyer of a hit song owns the music. Cars will always need mechanical service as they age and suffer damage which any competent independent shop and many DIYers can perform.

    Here is the major issue here.

    Automakers are required to make sure their cars are in compliance with federal regulation and some state regulation over longer time periods.

    The problem comes in Joe the local mechanic may be like my buddy and have thousands invested to make sure when he turns out a vehicle it is still compliant or it could be like the guy down the street that just fixes the car and it may not be compliant. Then the automaker is on the hook for someone else work.

    The legal issues are driving much of this and the automakers do not want to be responsible for others mistakes or messes should there be an issue.

    We see this much on Diesel engines where in California just selling parts not in compliance can be millions in fines.

    This has been brewing for a while with tuners. I see tunes on some engines that are legal and others that are not. Some not only put them out of compliance but can damage the engine. Then the owner takes it back to the dealer expecting a warranty on damage by someone else tune.

    When I tuned my Turbo I used the GM tune as it was compliant and remained under the GM warranty. Even if I installed it the tune was still covered for emissions and warranty damages.

    Just to note todays cars are difficult to repair. Even the dealers struggle with info direct from the MFGs. My buddy spends between $15K-20K on programming to work on cars and have access to the computer info needed to work on the cars. You have to have the right tools for many things anymore.

    This is part of the reason automakers are looking to EV models. With the ever tighter regulations it is tough enough to meet these regs but to keep them compliant over miles and time is more difficult. EV modes. do not create that issue so they can be free of these laws.

    While they may argue above the term tool up is true. With the advent of flash computers and body control modules you need to have the tools and programming to work on this stuff. Even the dealers have to buy it too.

    You want regulations for clean air this is part of it and you need to live with it or the alternatives.

    The days of a number of fix at home things are closing down. Even hybrids suffer the same things as any other ICE model as they still have ICE as part of the system. If anything they are even more difficult with the added duel systems.

    I would recommend people learn and read up on the legalities the companies are forced to meet and maintain over how many years for specific emissions parts. You will learn it is not and has never been a level playing field for either side.

    Common sense would leave you thinking if you pass a tail pipe test clean you are fine but that is not enough.

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