On Feb. 9, U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn re-introduced federal Right to Repair legislation.
HR 906, as introduced in Congress, aims to “ensure consumers have access to data relating to their motor vehicles, critical repair information and tools, and to provide them choices for the maintenance, service and repair of their motor vehicles, and for other purposes.”
“When it comes to repairing their automobiles, consumers deserve options,” said Dunn, a Florida Republican. “The REPAIR Act would give owners, including the rural communities in my district, secure access to critical data so their chosen service center can replace parts and repair their vehicles. I am proud to support competition in the vehicle repair industry.”
Dunn is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has responsibility for consumer protection, among several other topics. The bill was referred to the committee on Feb. 9.
The bipartisan bill has three co-sponsors: Reps. Brendan Boyle (Pennsylvania) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Washington), both Democrats, and Rep. Warren Davidson, a Republican (Ohio).
“There are hundreds of neighborhood mechanics in Philadelphia,” Boyle said in a news release. “The last thing those small business owners need is to be boxed out of making a living. This legislation would not only protect the business relationships between automobile owners and their mechanics, but it also ensures consumers continue to have more options on where to go for repairs.”
Aftermarket trade groups applauded the legislation. In a news release on behalf of MEMA Aftermarket, the CAR (Consumer Access to Repair) Coalition and SEMA, the Auto Care Association said:
“The legislation will ensure the preservation of consumer choice, a fair marketplace and the continued safe operation of the nation’s 292 million registered passenger and commercial motor vehicles, 70% of which are maintained by independent repair facilities.”
According to the Auto Care Association, the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act will accomplish this by:
- Preserving consumer access to high-quality and affordable vehicle repair by ensuring that vehicle owners and their repairers of choice have access to necessary repair and maintenance tools and data as vehicles continue to become more advanced.
- Ensuring access to critical repair tools and information. All tools and equipment; wireless transmission of repair and diagnostic data; and access to onboard diagnostic and telematic systems needed to repair a vehicle must be made available to the independent repair industry.
- Ensuring cybersecurity by allowing vehicle manufacturers to secure vehicle-generated data and requiring NHTSA to develop standards for how vehicle generated data necessary for repair can be accessed securely.
- Providing transparency for consumers by requiring vehicle owners be informed that they can choose where and how to get their vehicle repaired.
- Creating a stakeholder advisory committee and providing them with the statutory authority to provide recommendations to the FTC on how to address emerging barriers to vehicle repair and maintenance.
- Providing ongoing enforcement by establishing a process for consumers and independent repair facilities to file complaints with the FTC regarding alleged violations of the requirements in the bill and a requirement that the FTC act within five months of a claim.
“As vehicle technology continues to advance, new barriers to a competitive auto repair market are emerging,” Auto Care said. “These barriers limit consumer choice in where to repair their motor vehicles and increase the cost to repair and maintain vehicles. The REPAIR Act will reduce these barriers, putting consumers’ interests first.”
Momentum for Right to Repair
Momentum has been building for Right to Repair in recent years.
In November 2020, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly voiced their support for Ballot Question 1 (also known as Right to Repair) with 75% of the vote, which preserves their right as vehicle owners to have access to and control of their vehicle’s mechanical data necessary for service and repair at the shops of their choice.
In May 2021, the Federal Trade Commission released its “Nixing the Fix” report, which highlighted barriers that vehicle manufacturers have instituted to squash a consumer’s right to repair. The FTC has said it strongly supports expanding consumer repair options and found “scant evidence” for repair restrictions imposed by OEMs.
In July 2021, President Biden issued the “Promoting Competition in the American Economy” executive order, which encouraged the FTC to address anti-competitive repair restrictions. In December 2022, the Digital Fair Repair Act was signed into law by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, and in January 2023, John Deere signed an MOU with the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The REPAIR Act is the only bill that addresses vehicle maintenance and repair restrictions, including heavy-duty vehicles the U.S. economy depends on for freight transport.
Automotive aftermarket companies can urge legislators in their district to also co-sponsor the bill by visiting repairact.com.