Right to Repair Bill Introduced into Senate with Bipartisan Support

Mar 29, 2010, 14:00 ET from Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association

U.S. Senators Boxer, Brownback Join Forces on Consumer Protection

BETHESDA, Md., March 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Protecting consumers' rights to choose where they get their vehicles repaired gained bipartisan support as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) introduced the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act (S 3181) into the Senate.  The House version of the bill (HR 2057) was introduced by Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and George Miller (D-CA) and currently has 57 cosponsors.  

The Right to Repair Act protects motoring consumers from a growing and potentially hazardous vehicle repair monopoly by requiring that car companies provide full access at a reasonable cost to all service information, tools, computer codes and safety-related bulletins needed to repair motor vehicles, thus leveling the competitive playing field between dealerships and independent repair shops.  The legislation further provides car companies with strong protections for their trade secrets, only requiring them to make available the same diagnostic and repair information they provide their franchised dealers.

"By introducing right to repair legislation, Sens. Boxer and Brownback have taken important action to ensure that American car owners will continue to have access to a competitive auto repair marketplace, thus ensuring that repair costs don't price vehicle ownership above the heads of many Americans," said Kathleen Schmatz, president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA).  "This bill keeps motorists in the driver's seat by making sure that they, and not the vehicle manufacturers, have the final say on where a car is taken for service."

The need for the legislation has become apparent due to the growing use of computers and electronics which control nearly every function of a vehicle from air bags and brakes to ignition, fuel injection and tire pressure monitoring systems.  Although these computer systems provide benefits to consumers through improved fuel efficiency, comfort and safety, they also provide increasing opportunities for car companies to deny access to car owners and the repair shops where they normally obtain service for their vehicle.  

"The Right to Repair Act is all about consumer choice, ensuring consumers have the right to choose where and by whom they have their vehicles repaired," said Ray Pohlman, president of the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE).  "Failure to pass this bill could mean that car owners are held hostage by the car companies, forced to return to the dealership even after the vehicle is out of warranty."

About Right to Repair:

The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act, which was introduced by Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and George Miller (D-CA), would require car companies to make the same service information and tools capabilities available to independent repair shops that they provide to their franchised dealer networks. The legislation further provides car companies with strong protections for their trade secrets unless that information is provided to the franchised new car dealers.  The bill clarifies the responsibilities of the Federal Trade Commission in enforcing the bill's requirements.  For more information about the Right to Repair Act, visit www.righttorepair.org.

SOURCE Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association