Safety & Compliance

Aftermarket Groups Say Adding Heavy-Duty Could Have Derailed Mass. Right to Repair

September 04, 2012

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Just because the new Massachusetts Right to Repair law only covers light-duty vehicles (up to 10,000 pounds) doesn't mean that independent heavy-duty repair interests aren't continuing the fight to extend accessibility of repair information to the heavier vehicles.


Last week, we reported that Massachusetts' new Right to Repair law excludes medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

The new Right to Repair law requires big auto manufacturers to sell the diagnostic and safety information needed to repair customers' cars to the car owners and local car repair shops. Currently, only some information is shared, often limiting consumers to only the car dealerships and making it difficult for neighborhood shops to fully repair customers' vehicles.

When asked why the new law does not include larger vehicles, Art Kinsman, spokesman for the Massachusetts Right to Repair coalition, said it did not seem to be a large concern among the state's truck repair shops or truck owners.

The Commercial Vehicle Service Network and the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, which were involved in the negotiations, beg to differ, as they explained in a letter sent to HDT editors.

"The decision to take heavy-duty out of the bill was not easy," wrote Marc Karon, CVSN president, and Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and CEO. "Our groups are extremely concerned about the absence of information and tools to repair heavy-duty vehicles (those over 10,000 pounds). Limiting where these trucks can be serviced will lead to increased repair costs, higher shipping costs to businesses and ultimately higher prices for the products that consumers purchase."

"AAIA and CVSN had originally hoped that heavy-duty vehicles would be included in the Massachusetts legislation," says the letter. "However, as we moved closer to an agreement with the car companies, it became clear that the model of information and software sharing we were developing for light-duty vehicles would need to be different for heavy-duty vehicles due to the unique way these vehicles are assembled."

In addition, they said, while legislators had been well educated on issues involving the light-duty market, there was a resistance to delve into the heavy-duty industry.

"That resistance threatened to slow down, if not halt, the momentum that was growing behind right to repair in the state legislature," said Schmatz and Karon. "So the decision was made to remove heavy-duty vehicles from the scope of the right to repair bill."

However, the two want to make it clear that they are hardly giving up.

"Now that we have a law on the books regarding competition in the repair industry, it is AAIA and CVSN's goal to develop a strategy for ensuring that the requirements in the law extend to the heavy-duty industry," they said, either through an agreement with the engine manufacturers or through passage of a new law. "However, make no mistake, AAIA and CSVN, with the help of the industry, are committed to making it happen."

The letter also points out that in the late 1990s, AAIA successfully lobbied for passage of requirements that heavy-duty engine manufacturers share all emissions-related information and tools with independents. This mandate will take effect once on-board diagnostic requirements for heavy-duty vehicles kick in next year.

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