Maine’s Secretary of State office on Feb. 21 certified the Maine Right to Repair coalition has gathered the necessary number of voter signatures qualifying the initiative to be on the ballot this November.
The group of Maine independent repair shop owners, employees and right to repair supporters submitted more than 70,000 voter signatures to the Secretary of State in January. The initiative will protect the rights of independent repair shops to repair cars as technology advances and automakers make it increasingly harder to access the repair and diagnostic information necessary to do so.
More than 90% of new cars are now equipped to transmit real-time diagnostic and repair information wirelessly only to vehicle manufacturers, threatening the rights of consumers to choose to get the cars they own fixed at trusted independent repair shops or do the work themselves.
“As newer vehicles transmit diagnostic information through wireless telematics directly to the manufacturers and dealerships, it’s critical that we protect consumers’ rights to take their vehicles where they choose to for repairs or fix the cars themselves,” said Tommy Hickey, director of the Right to Repair campaign. “If this ballot question doesn’t pass, drivers in Maine will have no choice and will be forced to go to more expensive dealerships.”
“Automakers are increasingly using technology to try to shut out local independent car repair shops and automotive technicians from repairing the newest models of cars and trucks,” said Tim Winkeler, president and CEO of VIP Tires & Service in Auburn, ME, and one of the signers of the initiative. “Many of our customers have been coming to us for decades. Their kids now come. They trust us and they shouldn’t be forced to go to pay more at a dealership.”
A national agreement in 2013 between automakers and the auto repair and auto parts industries forced automakers to provide access to repair and diagnostic codes and information but did not cover the rapidly expanding wireless technologies now installed in virtually all new vehicles. The ballot initiative would give Maine car and truck owners access to all the diagnostic and repair data generated by their car so that they could opt to provide access to any dealer, repair shop or automaker they choose during the lifetime of their car.
A similar ballot initiative passed with 75% voter support in Massachusetts in 2020, despite automakers spending more than $25 million to try to defeat it. Implementation of the Massachusetts law is on hold pending a decision by a federal judge after automakers sued to prevent it from going into effect.
Source: Maine Right to Repair