By Stephen Markley on December 31, 2009
As automotive technology advances and becomes more specialized, some independent mechanics feel as if automakers are trying to monopolize repair services at their dealerships. This has led to congressional action in the form of the Right to Repair Act.
The bill would require automakers to provide all information required to diagnose and service vehicles, making crucial tools and data available to independents instead of only dealership shops.
Independent mechanics argue that they can’t make a living when they have to spend thousands of dollars constantly to gain access to the tools and online manuals needed to make repairs. If you need a $1,000 tool to reset a tire pressure light, something must be wrong, they say.
New vehicles are often fitted with computer systems that control just about everything, and independent mechanics need software codes and complicated diagrams of electrical wires just to make simple repairs. The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, whose members include Jiffy Lube and AutoZone, released a study in March that said the more expensive remedies used by dealerships cost consumers $11.7 billion in additional costs annually.
Automakers counter that they spend the millions of dollars upfront in research and development and shouldn’t have to give away intellectual property so that independents can gain access to patented information and build parts for less.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) and joined by 51 co-sponsors, has been sent to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, though it remains uncertain if the committee will pass it on to the full House.
Mechanics Worry Dealer Shops Creating Repair Monopoly on High-Tech Vehicles (Associated Press)