Survey: Vehicle Data Access Top Concern for Independent Repair Shops

Eighty-four percent of respondents to a nationwide survey of repairers said data access is their top concern, more than technician recruitment and inflation.


A nationwide survey conducted by the Auto Care Association has shed light on the significant obstacles that independent automotive repair shops encounter due to restricted access to vehicle repair and maintenance data. This limitation not only hampers their operational capabilities but also leads to substantial financial losses.

The findings support the need for the REPAIR Act (H.R. 906), a federal bill that would ensure vehicle owners and repairers of their choice have access to the vehicle data, tools and software required to maintain and repair modern vehicles.

The survey revealed 84% of independent repair facilities identify access to vehicle repair and maintenance data as their paramount concern, overshadowing other pressing issues such as technician recruitment and inflation. This data is crucial for these businesses to perform routine repairs and maintenance effectively.

Moreover, the majority of these shops face routine difficulties in servicing vehicles, with 63% encountering obstacles on a daily or weekly basis. About 51% of the shops reported being forced to redirect up to five vehicles each month to dealerships due to these data restrictions, resulting in an estimated annual financial impact of $3.1 billion across the industry.

“This research sheds new light on the stark reality facing the 273,000 shops and 900,000 technicians in in the United States if Congress fails to take action on federal right to repair legislation,” said Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association. “Without change, local repair shops will be forced to turn away more and more business, leaving car owners with no choice but to foot outsized bills at the dealership. The REPAIR Act is critically needed to protect America’s vibrant network of local, independent repair shops that offer trusted service, convenience, and choice to millions of American drivers during the car repair process.”

Vehicle data restrictions disproportionately hurt small independent repair businesses by making it harder for them to offer certain repair services and parts to their customers -- which can leave some car owners with no other option than the dealership for some repairs, as seen in the Auto Care Association’s new survey. This growing trend is particularly concerning when considering that consumers prefer independent repair shops to dealerships for vehicle repairs, according to separate research from Consumer Reports.

Last fall, the REPAIR Act, which has 50 bipartisan co-sponsors, unanimously advanced out of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce. In March, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report detailing how vehicle repair restrictions can “disadvantage” independent repairers relative to dealerships.

The Auto Care Association's survey, carried out by Hanover Research, involved 407 individuals from the independent auto repair sector, providing a margin of error of 5%. This research not only reinforces the narrative of the independent repairers but also complements findings from a similar survey by Babcox Media, which further delineates the labor and time losses incurred by these shops due to data access limitations.

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