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Vehicle repair costs increased nearly 12% in the last year

Costs are more than triple overall inflation rate; REPAIR Act would limit unfair practices contributing to the increases

Vehicle repair and maintenance costs continue to drive higher prices, per the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even as some consumer categories such as groceries have cooled, vehicle repair costs have increased by nearly 12% in the last year — more than tripling the overall inflation rate and fueling nearly a third of core inflation. 

“The costs of owning a vehicle were a key reason why prices jumped last month … Average auto repair costs increased 1.7% from February to March and are up a sharp 8.2% from a year earlier,” reports the Associated Press.

Coupled with persistent labor and auto parts shortages, automakers’ restrictions — such as design patent abuse and data restrictions — remain a key driver of high repair costs that are squeezing consumers and independent repair shops alike.

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) spotlights how vehicle data restrictions can “disadvantage” independent repair shops, leaving consumers with fewer choices, higher prices, and more inconvenience in car repairs.

The report acknowledges that modern vehicle technologies can create car repair barriers for independent shops as automakers restrict who can access necessary information, which is a trend that’s only likely to worsen as vehicles become increasingly data-dependent. 

“Vehicles are becoming more technologically advanced and increasingly transfer data, including repair data, wirelessly directly to automakers. This trend may cause challenges for independent repair shops in conducting repairs as they may not have access to that data as automakers may not share it with them,” states GAO’s report.

The Car Coalition notes that it’s up to Congress to bring car owners and independent repairers relief by advancing the bipartisan REPAIR (H.R. 906) and SMART (H.R. 1707) Acts. With support from more than 60 members of Congress and nearly 80% of vehicle-owning voters, the bills would ensure that consumers have access to affordable repair options while preserving a vibrant repair market.

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