A coalition of independent repair shops is reigniting the “right to repair” campaign in hopes that state policymakers will update the 2013 law to provide the same information to diagnostic data as the manufacturers give authorized dealerships.
The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition, relaunched last year after the successful 2012 right-to-repair ballot question and the subsequent 2013 law, said a legislation update is much-needed because newer cars have built-in wireless technology providing diagnostic and repair information that independent repair shops can’t access.
“Automakers are increasingly restricting access through rapidly expanding wireless technologies in vehicles not covered under current law,” the coalition said in a statement to the Herald, adding that if repair shops can’t get that data, “car owners have no choice but to be steered by vehicle manufacturers towards more expensive automaker authorized repair options.”
State lawmakers filed legislation in January to strengthen protections against “telematic systems,” technologies in newer cars that transmit crucial diagnostic and repair information to manufacturers — including automatic airbag deployment and crash notifications, navigation and stolen vehicle location.
Alan Saks, the owner of Dorchester Tire Service since 1982, told the Herald that independent repair shops “simply want an equal footing with dealerships to access diagnostic information.”
“Auto manufacturers make it extremely difficult to give us information in diagnosing a problem for a car,” Saks said. “Their computers can plug into a car and know exactly what’s wrong and what to do to fix it. For us, we have a list of multiple choices, test some of it and see if it works. This puts us in a severe disadvantage.”
“If you’re spending 30, 40, 60,000 for a new car, you should be entitled to know about it and go to a shop of your choice,” said Saks. “We’ll have a hell of a time to fix your car without that requirement in the law.”
“Our jobs deal with cycle time: Get the vehicle in, properly diagnosed, repaired and then back out in the shortest turnaround time as possible,” said Evangelos Papageorg, executive director of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers in Massachusetts, which represents over 200 collision repair shops.