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Illinois U.S. rep. introduces bill for consumer repair choice

The legislation will also ensure access to critical repair tools and information for independent repairers

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) has introduced the “Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act.” The legislation (H.R. 6570) will ensure the preservation of consumer choice, a fair marketplace, and the continued safe operation of the nation’s 288 million registered passenger and commercial motor vehicles, 70 percent of which are maintained by independent repair facilities.

The 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 on-board 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 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (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.

In a joint statement, the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), Auto Care Association, CAR (Consumer Access to Repair) Coalition, and Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) applauded Rep. Rush for introducing the bill, saying, “As vehicle technology continues to advance, new barriers to a competitive auto repair market are emerging. 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.”

“Today is one of the most memorable and important days in the history of the aftermarket. The REPAIR Act will help guarantee consumers’ rights and the ability of the industry to ensure their vehicles operate safely,” commented Paul McCarthy, president and CEO of AASA. “From the repair shop to the board room, this effort has been fueled by the people of the aftermarket, and we couldn’t be prouder of that alignment behind this important legislation. This effort supports principles of competition, consumer choice, and safety that we believe will benefit the whole automotive industry in the long run. We look forward to working with Representative Rush and our industry colleagues towards passage of this critical legislation.”

The bill is introduced on the heels of three “pivotal” moments for consumer choice in repair.

• In November 2020, Massachusetts voters voiced their support for Ballot Question 1 (also known as Right to Repair) with 75 percent 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 FTC released its Nixing the Fix report, which highlighted barriers that vehicle manufacturers have instituted to squash a consumer’s right to repair. The FTC strongly supports expanding consumer repair options and found “scant evidence” for repair restrictions imposed by original equipment manufacturers.

• And 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.

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