With applause from SEMA, the Auto Care Association, the Consumer Access to Repair Coalition, the Auto Care Association and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association, US Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois has introduced the “Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair” (REPAIR) act in Congress.
The four organizations supporting the legislation say the bill would “provide consumers rights to their vehicle’s data and safeguard a free and fair repair market.”
They add that the bill will permit “the continued safe operation of the nation’s 288 million registered passenger and commercial motor vehicles, 70 percent of which are maintained by independent repair facilities.”
They note the REPAIR Act will accomplish this by:
• Preserving consumer 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.
• Ensuring 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.
• Ensuring 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.
• Providing transparency for consumers by requiring vehicle owners be informed that they can choose where and how to get their vehicle repaired.
• Creating a stakeholder advisory committee and providing them with the statutory authority to provide recommendations to the Federal Trade Commission on how to address emerging barriers to vehicle repair and maintenance.
• Providing ongoing enforcement by establishing a process for consumers 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.
“As vehicle technology continues to advance, new barriers to a competitive auto repair market are emerging,” the organizations’ joint news release reports. “These barriers limit consumer choice in where to repair their motor vehicles and increase the cost to repair and maintain vehicles. The REPAIR Act will reduce these barriers, putting consumers’ interests first.
“Today is one of the most memorable and important days in the history of the aftermarket,” AASA president Paul McCarthy is quoted. “The REPAIR Act will help guarantee consumers’ rights and the ability of the industry to ensure their vehicles operate safely. This effort supports principles of competition, consumer choice, and safety that we believe will benefit the whole automotive industry in the long run.”
“Ensuring consumer choice while retaining a free and competitive market across the vehicle lifecycle is at the heart of this legislation,” added Bill Hanvey, president of the Auto Care Association. “As personal transportation has become more essential than ever, we need to make sure that 288 million American motorists have access to affordable, safe, and secure repairs for their vehicles.
“Passage of this bill will keep consumers at the wheel while preserving an industry that contributes 4.4 million U.S. jobs and 2 percent GDP.”
“The CAR Coalition is proud to support the REPAIR Act,” Executive Director Justin Rzepka added.
CAR Coalition executive director Justin Rzepka said a recent poll revealed that 93 percent of respondents “agreed that they should have the right to choose where and by whom their vehicle is repaired.”
Rep. Rush also is quoted in the news release as saying, “Americans should not be forced to bring their cars to more costly and inconvenient dealerships for repairs when independent auto repair shops are often cheaper and far more accessible.
“But as cars become more advanced, manufacturers are getting sole access to important vehicle data while independent repair shops are increasingly locked out. The status quo for auto repair is not tenable, and it is getting worse.
“If the monopoly on vehicle repair data continues, it would affect nearly 860,000 blue-collar workers and 274,000 service facilities.”
The news release notes the passage in November 2020 of a Right to Repair ballot question in Massachusetts, a May 2021 “Nixing the Fix” report by the FTC which highlighted barriers that vehicle manufacturers have instituted to squash a consumer’s right to non-dealer repair, and an executive order by President Joe Biden in July 2021 promoting competition in the American economy and encouraging the FTC to address anti-competitive repair restrictions.