Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick recently signed the state's Right to Repair legislation. The Right to Repair Coalition says it is the first-of-its-kind in the country, and will serve as a model for other states. However, the new law exempts vehicles over 10,000 pounds.

A question the group put on the ballot this fall, finalized before the law was passed, would cover all motor vehicles. However, because the coalition is happy with the new law as is, it's not pushing heavily to pass the ballot initiative.

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.

Starting in 2016, car manufacturers will be required to comply with one or two standards that will allow for the utilization of a universal interface tool that will access repair information for all manufacturers makes and models. This will eliminate the need for independent repairers and new car dealer repairers to expend substantial capital costs in the purchase of 26 car manufacturer diagnostic scan tools.

The law was the result of a negotiated agreement between Right to Repair advocates and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Global Automakers and the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association.

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 folks in our coalition mainly were repairers of passenger vehicles, and the folks on the other side were the makers of those vehicles. There wasn't a lot of hue and cry from the folks who fix big trucks or the folks [who own them]," he said.

"They didn't seem to have as much as a presence on this piece of legislation. You kind of have to have the folks at the table to have that agreement with. There hadn't been a significant amount of lobbying either way from those folks."

"We certainly hope at some point that all, that there could be Right to Repair for all vehicles on the highways," he said.

Related articles:

2/3/2012 - Dealers Weigh in on Question of 'Right to Repair'

1/20/2010 - The Battle Over Access to Repair Information