Auto Care: ‘Automotive Right to Repair Is Gaining Momentum’

Auto Care: ‘Automotive Right to Repair Gaining Momentum’

During a Sept. 27 hearing, more than a dozen members of Congress inquired about the details of the REPAIR Act.

Right to Repair took center stage on Capitol Hill this week.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Innovation, Data and Commerce discussed the REPAIR Act (HR 906) and other consumer-focused legislation during a heading titled “Proposals to Enhance Product Safety and Transparency for Americans.”

The bipartisan Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act aims to preserve competition, affordability, accessibility and a vibrant supply chain for the independent aftermarket. The legislation would ensure that vehicle owners can choose where they get their vehicles repaired and maintained, without obstruction from vehicle manufacturers.

In the almost three-hour long hearing, more than a dozen members of Congress inquired about the details of this widely supported legislation. It was one of the first times that the REPAIR Act was highlighted in the legislative process. 

Kathleen Callahan, a 20-year industry veteran and owner of Xpertech Auto Repair in Englewood, Florida, proudly represented the auto care industry. A member of the Auto Care Association and rising vice chair of Women in Auto Care, Callahan shared the economic contribution of the entire supply chain of the auto care industry to the U.S. economy, including over $400 billion and 4.7 million jobs.

“My industry is an economic engine for the nation and essential to keeping America’s 292 million registered motor vehicles on the road,” said Callahan. “I’m here today because my shop and every other independent repair shop in the country faces an existential threat to our future.

The REPAIR Act allows the free market to work by prohibiting competition barriers that vehicle manufacturers [use],” she continued. “It will guarantee shops chosen by the vehicle owner can access the data they need to safely diagnose and repair vehicles today and in the future.”

The bill is the Auto Care Association’s top legislative priority.

“Automotive right to repair is gaining momentum, not only in state capitals, but in the halls of the United States Congress,” Auto Care President and CEO Bill Hanvey said. “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.” 

The Need to Codify Right to Repair

During questioning, Callahan was asked why the REPAIR Act was necessary in light of the recently announced memorandum of understanding between the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers and Automotive Service Association.

Callahan stated simply: “I’m not willing to risk my business and its future on a handshake agreement, where [automakers] could back out at any time.”

She also shared instances of current barriers to equitable access to vehicle repair and maintenance data.

“This month I paid a brand-new fee to Stellantis to see basic data related to a ‘Check Engine’ light in a long-time clients Jeep. we previously had access to this information through our current scan tool subscription services without additional paywalls.”

U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, who introduced the bill in February, also expressed skepticism toward the memo of understanding.

“I don’t think that an MOU that’s unenforceable that only includes 1% of an industry is representative of that industry’s choices,” Dunn asserted. “It’s not acceptable for the vehicle manufacturers to exclude independent repair shops from accessing that data, especially if they’re the owners. I think forcing auto owners into dealership repairs not only leaves a huge existing industry behind [but it also] veers towards vertical integration and monopolistic behavior.”

To continue urging your lawmaker to support the REPAIR Act, visit repairact.com

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