Majority of Independent Repair Shops View Vehicle Data Access as Top Business Issue

Majority of Independent Repair Shops View Vehicle Data Access as Top Business Issue

Eighty-four percent of independent repair shops made that claim, surpassing other timely considerations, like technician recruitment and retention and inflation.

The Auto Care Association released results from a new nationwide survey of repair shops highlighting the challenges that independent repair facilities face when servicing vehicles, often forcing them to turn away business.

The results indicate:

  • 84% of independent repair shops view vehicle repair and maintenance data access as the top issue for their business, surpassing other timely considerations, like technician recruitment and retention and inflation. 
  • The majority (63%) of independent repair shops experience difficulties making routine repairs on a daily or weekly basis.  
  • Half of independent repair shops (51%) report sending up to 5 vehicles per month to the dealer due to vehicle data restrictions. 
  • Vehicle data limitations cost independent repair shops an estimated $3.1 billion each year.

“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, 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, the Auto Care Association’s new survey said.

These new findings elevate the first-person stories of independent repairers featured in the Auto Care Association’s new video campaign highlighting the impacts of unfair repair restrictions, and builds on growing momentum for federal right to repair legislation to protect independent repair businesses and consumers. Just last fall, the REPAIR Act (H.R. 906), 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 new survey was conducted by Hanover Research, an independent market research firm, from February 1-14, 2024 among 407 individuals who work at independent auto repair shops. The study has a margin of error of 5%.

Read the in-depth research memo here.

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