After months of debate, the Massachusetts Senate quietly passed a proposal allowing independent auto mechanics access to the same repair information available to dealership mechanics.
The measure, known as the Right to Repair Act, was approved this morning during an informal session with no objections from Senate legislators. It will now head to the House for another vote.
Advocates of the bill said the measure will help consumers get their cars repaired more inexpensively because consumers will be able to get their cars fixed at independent mechanics' shops where they will have access to the same diagnostic information as dealership mechanics. Dealership mechanics generally charge more. The bill's backers include the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, which represents companies like Napa and Auto Zone and Napa. The Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, which represents Midas, Jiffy Lube, and others also supports the bill.
Opponents said the measure is a way for generic auto parts makers like Auto Zone and Pep Boys to get information that will allow them to reverse-engineer parts and manufacture them generically.
"This bill is about parts, not repairs," said Charles Territo, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a national group of 11 auto companies. "We're disappointed that despite all the opposition, the Senate still passed the legislation and we look forward to moving this battle to the House."