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Congress rising behind Right to Repair Act

November 22, 2010

Federal legislation that would require automakers to share with independent garages the same service information and tools capabilities now available only to franchised dealer networks added two more congressional sponsors in November. 

That brings to 70 the number of House cosponsors of the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act of 2005 (House Resolution 2048). However, the bill has not experienced any major action since days after it was introduced in May.

 

The National Automobile Dealers Association charges that the legislation seeks to create a new federal government bureaucracy at the Federal Trade Commission—which has no background or experience in automotive repair—to handle issues relative to service information, tools and training for automotive repair facilities. 

Further federal involvement in the automotive repair industry is opposed by the NADA and the Automotive Services Association, which represents independent garages.

 

While the legislation is premised on the theory that automobile manufacturers are not making these items readily accessible, automotive service providers agree that the flow of service information, tool and training information from automobile manufacturers to service providers and others has never been better under the voluntary and cooperative system now in place. 

Every segment of the automotive industry now participates in the voluntary National Automotive Service Task Force, or NASTF, which operates without interference from government bureaucrats.

 

Of about 500 million non-warranty repairs last year, there were 48 inquiries to the NASTF about gaps in information, and all 48 were addressed.  NADA officials said H.R. 2048 would supplant this private sector initiative with federal regulation to address isolated issues. 

In doing so, the legislation opens the door to further federal regulation of the industry, additional litigation, and threats to the intellectual property and competitiveness of automobile manufacturers.

 

It is large aftermarket parts distributors, not independent garages, who reportedly favor this legislation on the premise that it will force disclosure of proprietary information, allowing for the cheap production of aftermarket parts overseas. 

U.S. Rep Lynn Westmoreland (R-Georgia) is leading a stand against the federal takeover of the industry by circulating a letter to the House leadership.

 

The NADA has asked for dealers to contact their representatives to oppose the measure. For talking points, call the NADA Legislative Office at 800-563-1556.

 

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