Federal legislation would ensure access to information and tools needed to repair vehicles ranging from autos to heavy-duty trucks that is often available only to dealers.
According to proponents of the bill, 70% of the nation’s passenger and commercial vehicles are maintained by independent repair facilities, which often are at a disadvantage because vehicle-makers keep proprietary tools and data restricted to dealers.
House Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) introduced the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act. The legislation (H.R. 6570) will, according to proponents:
- Preserve vehicle owner access to high-quality and affordable vehicle repair by ensuring that vehicle owners and their repairers of choice have access to necessary repair and maintenance tools and data as vehicles continue to become more advanced.
- Ensure access to critical repair tools and information. All tools and equipment; wireless transmission of repair and diagnostic data; and access to on-board diagnostic and telematic systems needed to repair a vehicle must be made available to the independent repair industry.
- Ensure cybersecurity by allowing vehicle manufacturers to secure vehicle-generated data and requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop standards for how vehicle generated data necessary for repair can be accessed securely.
- Provide transparency by requiring vehicle owners be informed that they can choose where and how to get their vehicle repaired.
- Create a stakeholder advisory committee and give it the statutory authority to provide recommendations to the Federal Trade Commission on how to address emerging barriers to vehicle repair and maintenance.
- Provide ongoing enforcement by establishing a process for vehicle owners and independent repair facilities to file complaints with the FTC regarding alleged violations of the requirements in the bill and a requirement that the FTC act within five months of a claim.
The Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association, Auto Care Association, CAR (Consumer Access to Repair) Coalition, and Specialty Equipment Market Association applauded the legislation. AASA is the light vehicle aftermarket division of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), which also includes the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association. MEMA told HDT that the REPAIR Act also would cover medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles.
“Today is one of the most memorable and important days in the history of the aftermarket. The REPAIR Act will help guarantee consumers’ rights and the ability of the industry to ensure their vehicles operate safely,” said Paul McCarthy, president and CEO of AASA, in a news release. “This effort supports principles of competition, consumer choice, and safety that we believe will benefit the whole automotive industry in the long run.”
Part of a Trend?
The bill is introduced on the heels of additional “right to repair” measures, according to supporters.
In November 2020, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly voiced their support for Ballot Question 1 (also known as Right to Repair) with 75% of the vote, which preserves their right as vehicle owners to have access to and control of their vehicle’s mechanical data necessary for service and repair at the shops of their choice.
In May 2021, the FTC released their Nixing the Fix report, which highlighted barriers that vehicle manufacturers have instituted to squash a consumer’s right to repair. The FTC strongly supports expanding consumer repair options and found “scant evidence” for repair restrictions imposed by original equipment manufacturers.
And in July 2021, President Biden issued the “Promoting Competition in the American Economy” executive order, which encouraged the FTC to address anti-competitive repair restrictions.