HR 2048 is bipartisan bill that would require automakers to provide the same service information and tools to independent auto and maintenance shops, as well as to consumers, that the automaker dealership service centers receive.
The Coalition for Auto Repair Equality urges Congress to support the Right to Repair Act to give consumers a choice and keep repair costs down. It’s the right thing to do for consumers, for business and the economy.
Said Parde, “It’s right for our country and as American as apple pie.” —David Parde, president, Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE).
What HR 2048 Does
What It Does Not Do
The Right to Repair Act, H.R. 2048, is about access, availability and choice for consumers. It will allow vehicle owners the right to have repairs performed in a timely manner and choose the replacement parts for their vehicles.
Ownership. Consumers have the right of ownership. Consumers, not auto manufacturers, own their vehicles; consumers have the right to repair
Choice. Consumers have a right to choose where, how and by whom to have their vehicles repaired, even to work on them themselves. Consumers, not automakers, should decide where to service their vehicles.
Rep. Joe Barton, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House bill’s sponsor, has been involved with this consumer-friendly issue for several years. “I believe consumers should have fair choice in auto repair,” he said.
Save money. Consumers have the right to lower prices brought about by free market competition. They should have the choice between an independent repair shop and a dealership service center for their vehicle repairs.
Said David Parde, “As competition becomes restricted to dealership service centers, it can cause higher prices for repairs and replacement parts.”
Safety. Consumers have a right to be safe on the road. Their safety is jeopardized if their vehicle breaks down in an isolated area and it can only be repaired by a dealership, which may be miles away.
Said John Nielson, AAA, speaking at a meeting with CARE executives in April 2005, “Consumer safety is also compromised if local repair shops of choice aren’t provided information to conduct some repairs, and drivers avoid these needed repairs due to costly dealership service prices.”
Convenience. Consumers have the right to select a repair shop that is conveniently located. They shouldn’t be forced to drive miles away to reach a dealership service center if that is their only option.
Automotive Aftermarket Survey 2006. The survey showed once again that there is overwhelming support among Independent Automotive Aftermarket Shop owners and managers for the Right to Repair Act. Fully 88% of respondents favor passage of this legislation, including 65% who “strongly” favor its passage.
This overwhelming level of support is consistent among Alliance of Automotive Service Providers members (90%), Automotive Service Association members (87%), Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association members (88%), and members of state level automotive trade groups (95%).
May 19, 2006 Voters Poll. According to a poll released May19, 2006, voters overwhelmingly support “The Right to Repair Act,” H.R. 2048, back Congress’ passage of the bill, and would vote for candidates which favor the bill.
The poll, conducted by the polling company for CARE, showed that voters supported vehicle repair equality by a margin of 4-to-1 (76%-19%), and declared that important information held by newer vehicle computer systems should not be accessible only by auto manufacturers and dealers. The poll showed that a strong majority of voters would be more likely to cast a ballot for a candidate who favors the bill. May 19, 2006 Voters Survey
Automotive Aftermarket Survey 2004. A recent poll of the automotive aftermarket showed an overwhelming support for the Right to Repair Act, with more than 92% of respondents favoring passage of this legislation, including 79% who “strongly” favor its passage. The study shows that even members of the Automotive Service Association (ASA), the only aftermarket industry group to oppose the bill, showed overwhelming support for passage of the bill when polled. Automotive Aftermarket Survey 2004
National Federation of Independent Business Poll. Eighty percent of National Federation of Independent Business members say carmakers should disclose information to repair shops. See chart.
July 2001 Voter Poll. A poll by the polling company shows that voters support Right to Repair. See Report of Findings and Data Analysis.
A group of mom and pop repair shops across the country is arguing that such scenes are happening too often in the last few years, jeopardizing their bottom line and sometimes even their survival. They contend that auto manufacturers are deliberately withholding information or charging high prices for repair data that used to be readily available at a reasonable cost.
Gary Martin estimates that he has to send two to three customers to dealerships weekly because he can't afford the manufacturer tools that would allow him to figure out what's wrong with the vehicle and fix it. "It's frustrating," says Mr. Martin, who repairs European luxury cars.
Car manufacturers are not sharing vital information needed by independent repair shops to fix cars, and those shops say it is threatening their businesses.
"Normally, the diagnosis would take about 15 minutes." But Bill Cahill didn't have the updated manufacturer's software that was necessary to uncover the problem, so he was forced to send the customer to the local Ford dealership.
“Customers choose us to do the work because it’s way too much hassle to go to Seattle,” Filli says. But “BMW and Mercedes have gotten to the point where their cars are so technical, I have to turn customers away.”
“We would have to spend $20,000 to $30,000 a year to get all the information on the Internet sites, and it sometimes is hard to find or is incomplete. We work on everything," Mr. Gamble said. "I've got to be able to work on a Chrysler or a Volvo. And we can only get the information in a limited form," said Bill Ledbetter of North Hills Automotive, a Greenville-based repair shop chain.
The lack of factory information causes Steven Hoehle to turn away thousands of dollars' worth of work each year. "These are jobs we could have been doing and we've been unable to do it," he said. On one occasion, Mr. Hoehle said, he had to tow a Volvo to a dealership so technicians there could type a code into the vehicle's computer so he could replace a throttle part.
Paul Stock, owner of Stock's Underhood Specialists in Belleville, said the legislation sitting before Congress is good for consumers and the industry at a time when the biggest obstacle facing him and other retailers is getting accurate information to customers.
“It could run the small independents out of business - they’ve been trying to do that for years.” Sumner Auto Repair Shop owner Jack Harmon said that by not putting out the information, car manufacturers are making it complicated to work on the vehicles.
In a recent instance, a customer brought in a minivan for a repair. But the shop couldn't complete the fix without reprogramming the vehicle's computer, a task that required buying a special tool with a $5,000 price tag. Fleet & Automotive Repair in North Charleston, sent the van to a dealer instead. The customer then returned to Fleet for the repair. “Such situations aren't just an inconvenience for customers,”said service manager Charles Adam Duell. “It also means vehicle owners could end up paying more. When you have nowhere to go (for repairs) but a dealership, that's a monopoly."
Mark Workman, Mark's Super Service, spends more than $10,000 a year on various tools, computer programs and equipment upgrades necessary to make repairs. Even so, the shop's technicians can't always get the repair data they need and must pass the work on to a dealer, said Workman, who's been in the repair business 20 years.
“Vehicle manufacturers are trying to monopolize the business. Customers also pay a price when their mechanics can’t get car computer codes or the special parts and tools needed,”
The collateral effect is the slow starvation of the independent repair shop,” Evris Automotive projected. The car had to be taken to a dealer, leaving Evris to eat the cost of the trip to the dealer.
Car manufacturers are deliberately holding back technical information from Doris Callaway, owner of C & S Auto Tech and other garage owners so that car owners were forced to go to dealerships for service, essentially giving them a monopoly. If a manufacturer's dealership were not in a car owner¹s city, that owner might have to drive for hours to get something as simple as an errant engine light explained to them. “Sure it¹s free, but you drove 400 miles to find that out.”