Right to Repair Act introduced to Congress

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The Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act – which would require 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 – has been introduced to Congress.

HR 1449, introduced by U.S. Reps. Todd Platts (R-Pa.) and Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), is intended to level the competitive playing field for motoring consumers and between new car dealerships and independent repair shops. The legislation would provide car companies with strong protections for their trade secrets, only requiring them to make available the same nonproprietary diagnostic and repair information they provide their franchised dealers.

“The Right to Repair Act is really about who owns the vehicle’s repair information – the car owner or the car company,” says Sandy Bass-Cors, executive director of the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality. “After spending thousands of dollars to purchase a vehicle, consumers should not be denied the ability to have that vehicle repaired at the facility of their choice. Without Right to Repair, millions of car owners will be further held hostage by the car companies, forced to return to the dealership even after the vehicle is out of warranty. Every American taxpayer paid for the car company bailouts and ‘Cash for Clunkers.’ It’s time that pro-consumer legislation is passed that doesn’t cost the taxpayers money.”

Bass-Cors says the need for the Right to Repair Act has become apparent due to the growing use of computers and electronics that 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, Bass-Cors says.

“We want to thank Representatives Towns and Platts for joining forces and taking important action to ensure that American car owners will continue to have access to quality, affordable auto repair,” says Kathleen Schmatz, president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. “The Right to Repair Act does not cost tax payers money, but instead keeps motorists in the driver’s seat by making sure that they, and not the vehicle manufacturers, have the final say on where their car is taken for service, whether to a dealership or a trusted neighborhood repair shop.”