Tuesday, 31 May 2005 17:00

Right to Repair Act reintroduced in Congress

Calling it "a piece of legislation as 'American as apple pie,' and one that is vital to motoring consumers and the five million plus Americans working in the automotive aftermarket," David Parde, the president of the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, applauded U.S. Representatives Joe Barton (R-TX) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY) for re-introducing H.R. 2048: The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act in the 109th Congress. 

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H.R. 2048 is about personal ownership, and protects vehicle owners' right to choose where, how and by whom to have their vehicles serviced and repaired and whose parts they wish to purchase. "Consumers own their cars, not the car company. It's their right to repair," Parde added.

Increasingly, automobile systems such as transmissions, brakes, steering, airbags, ignition systems, tire pressure and more are monitored and controlled by computers. The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act (also known as the Right to Repair) was introduced in response to independent auto repair shops' and motoring consumers' complaints that automakers routinely withhold diagnostic codes, technical information and tools needed to service these systems.

The Right to Repair Act makes certain that car owners have full access to all information contained in these onboard computers. Without access to this information, it becomes increasingly difficult to have cars properly maintained and repaired. The car owner is at the mercy of the car companies and their dealerships.

Having garnered the support of 118 bipartisan co-sponsors in the 108th Congress joining Rep. Barton, the bill's sponsors are enthusiastic about its prospects to become law this session. The bill was previously heard before the House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protec-tion sub-committee of the House Energy and Commerce committee, where Rep. Barton is chairman,

"This bill is necessary to preserve a competitive marketplace in auto repair and to defend the rights of car owners to have consumer choice in car repair," said Chairman Barton. "I am optimistic that this bill will be passed this Congress."

Representative Towns added, "The bi- partisan support this legislation has earned speaks to its importance. It protects both consumers and the small businesses who serve them."

"Chairman Barton and Rep. Towns have once again had the vision and courage to act decisively on an issue that impacts every American who owns a vehicle," continued Parde. "We look forward to getting our member companies and motoring consumers engaged in supporting this legislation again."

Added Parde, "Right to Repair legislation is needed to keep repair info flowing and to protect consumers' rights."

Supporters include American Auto-mobile Association (AAA), National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), 60 Plus Seniors Association, Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP) and many other industry and consumer organizations.

Legislation still not necessary

The new measure drops several controversial provisions previously contained in H.R. 2735, the bill which was not passed by the last session of Congress. Provisions eliminated include: private right of action; parts information; and vague Federal Trade Commission Enforcement

"Although the bill has changed significantly, ASA believes that legislation is still unnecessary. Having said that, I commend Chairman Joe Barton for his hard work to draft legislation that is more practical and less onerous for the small business community. This is a different bill than H.R. 2735, and we appreciate Chair-man Barton's leadership in this direction," said Ron Pyle, ASA president and chief staff executive.

"ASA's service information agreement with the automakers is working, and the voluntary approach is much more effective than a process regulated by the federal government in Washington, D.C. Recognizing that some parts distributors favor government regulation, we believe Chairman Barton has done a good job ensuring that this legislation is less contentious in that regard than previous bills," Pyle added.

In 2002, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers signed a voluntary agreement with ASA to provide the service information needed to repair vehicles to the independent repairer.

"ASA believes the ASA-Automaker Agreement established a permanent framework for the long-term viability of the independent repair industry. Service information is available now through the ASA-Automaker Agreement and the National Automotive Service Task Force," said Pyle. "The ASA board of directors has encouraged us to increase our activity in ensuring the best training possible for repair technicians. We will continue to work with the automakers to ensure that our training opportunities are equivalent to those provided to the franchised new car dealers as outlined in the ASA-Automaker Agreement."


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