UNDERSTANDING THE RIGHT TO REPAIR ACT

Support for the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act from the Engine Repower Council may help give the legislation the impetus it needs to become law. The measure already enjoys broad support among motorists because it puts them – not the auto manufacturers – in charge of who performs maintenance and repairs on their cars, trucks and SUVs. The new legislation offers an important chance to prevent large corporations from taking over the decisions that rightfully belong to private vehicle owners.

The Right to Repair Act (also known as HR 1449) seeks to force openness in the automotive industry that will guarantee independent mechanics and vehicle owners access to the information they need to work on vehicles. Traditionally, automakers keep key information to themselves in an effort to keep auto owners returning to dealerships for service. If passed, HR 1449 will allow all mechanics and drivers to work on all models of cars.

Without legal protections in place, many mechanics and vehicle owners will have no choice but to hire dealer service departments to perform repairs. For example, repowering a car with a replacement engine often makes sense when major repairs are involved. Without the information they need to properly configure new or rebuilt engines, drivers and their local mechanics cannot do the work. Automakers would effectively force car owners to choose between buying a replacement car and having the work done by auto dealership service departments.

Many auto dealers oppose the Right to Repair Act for one obvious reason: money. Although the legislation does not force automakers to reveal trade secrets, the proposed legislation would force them to allow independent entities access to information needed to perform any repair. This would bring additional pressure on dealer networks to compete with local repair shops for service business. Many motorists want to preserve their right to choose the companies and mechanics they pay to perform repairs on their car based on their own criteria. While many will want to use dealer service centers for repairs, many others want to choose to use their favorite mechanic.