U.S. House Subcommittee Hears Comments on REPAIR Act
Written by Autobody News Staff
Published Sept. 27, 2023
A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee included the REPAIR Act in a Sept. 27 hearing on more than a dozen bills proposed to enhance product safety and transparency for Americans.
The bipartisan REPAIR Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-FL, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, aims to ensure vehicle owners can access repair data and tools needed to repair their vehicles.
Dunn emphasized during the hearing that when consumers buy a vehicle, they should own that vehicle, including the right to have it repaired: "When I buy a product, a house, a motorcycle, an airplane, it belongs to me," Dunn said. "When consumers buy vehicles, the options to repair or service those vehicles [are] being increasingly restricted.…It's unacceptable for the vehicle manufacturers to exclude independent repair shops from accessing that data, especially if they're the owner. It's the right of owners to repair their equipment, their vehicles and to choose where to repair."
Among the witnesses at the hearing were Kathleen Callahan, owner of Xpertech Auto Repair in Englewood, FL, and Scott Benavidez, chair of the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and owner of Mr. B's Paint and Body Shop in Albequerque, NM.
“The REPAIR Act will guarantee that our shops can access the data we need to safely diagnose and repair vehicles today and in the future in a manner consistent with the wishes of the vehicle owner," Callahan said in written testimony. "The REPAIR Act allows the free market to work by prohibiting competition-busting barriers vehicle manufacturers use to protect their competitive advantage. If the vehicle owner prefers the service shop at their dealership, that is their right, but should they choose to have repairs done at my shop, they should also have that right guaranteed. It’s your car. It should be your data.”
Benavidez explained how the agreement ASA reached over the summer with the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) ensures independent repair facilities will continue to have access to the information needed to diagnose and repair issues with their customers’ vehicles.
“Although today automotive repairers have access to vehicle data necessary for repairs, our industry has been concerned about the path forward for obtaining data for the vehicles moving into the marketplace," Benavidez said. "Newer vehicle technologies, with an increasing number of sensors, will present challenges to our shops without access to repair data. That is why, in July of this year, ASA proudly announced it had reached a landmark agreement with automakers that ensures independent repair shops can diagnose and repair their customers’ vehicles without hindrance from telematics nor any other innovation.”
Subcommittee member U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, said she had heard from many people about right to repair and the owners and repairers should have access to the vehicle data needed to make repairs.
"We may want to make sure that if the car is fixable and [the repairer] has the qualifications to fix it, you should be able to do that," Schakowsky said. She added she is "very much supportive" of the REPAIR Act.
U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger, R-TN, co-sponsor of the REPAIR Act, said, “I truly believe that consumers should have the right to their vehicles’ data especially when that data is needed to get your vehicle back up and running.”
“Modern vehicles can be diagnosed and repaired remotely, but that innovation should decrease the cost of repair and should not be used as a way to limit the choices for consumers or cut independent repair shops out of the market,” said U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-MA.
“Momentum continues to grow for the bipartisan REPAIR Act,” said CAR Coalition Executive Director Justin Rzepka. “Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle understand that when it comes to repairing their vehicles, consumers deserve and expect choices. That’s why the REPAIR Act is so critical. Access to vehicle data is essential to both vehicle owners and the independent repair shops who serve them. We thank the members of the subcommittee for bringing attention to the REPAIR Act today. Swift action on the REPAIR and SMART Acts is needed to protect access to affordable car repairs and promote freedom of choice.”
“Automotive right to repair is gaining momentum, not only in state capitals, but in the halls of the United States Congress,” said Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association. “On the heels of more than 300 professionals from the independent aftermarket visiting Washington, D.C., to push this critical issue, I am so proud that Kathleen was able to so effectively and passionately advocate for the entirety of the independent aftermarket. Her efforts will undoubtedly persuade the House Energy and Commerce Committee to continue to advance this legislation that is so important to preserving affordable right to repair.”