New Right To Repair Bill Targets Obnoxious Auto Industry Behavior

from the do-not-pass-go,-do-not-collect-$200 dept

It’s just no fun being a giant company aspiring to monopolize repair to boost revenues. On both the state and federal level, a flood of new bills are targeting companies’ efforts to monopolize repair by implementing obnoxious DRM, making repair tools and manuals hard to find, bullying independent repair shops (like Apple does), or forcing tractor owners to drive hundreds of miles just to get their tractor repaired (one of John Deere’s favorite pastimes). The Biden administration even just got done signing an executive order asking the FTC to tighten up its restrictions on the subject.

This week the list of right to repair legislation jumped by one with the introduction of the “Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair” Act (REPAIR Act), which would mandate equitable access to repair tools and tech, boost the FTC’s authority to handle consumer complaints, and mandate additional transparency by the auto industry:

“Americans should not be forced to bring their cars to more costly and inconvenient dealerships for repairs when independent auto-repair shops are often cheaper and far more accessible,? said Rep. Rush. ?But as cars become more advanced, manufacturers are getting sole access to important vehicle data while independent repair shops are increasingly locked out. The status quo for auto repair is not tenable, and it is getting worse. If the monopoly on vehicle repair data continues, it would affect nearly 860,000 blue-collar workers and 274,000 service facilities.”

The auto industry has been particularly obnoxious when it comes to providing independent access to data, tools, and repair manuals for cars with increasingly complicated internal electronics. That’s a particular problem when an estimated 70 percent of U.S. cars are serviced by independent repair shops. The industry has also been obnoxious in their attempts to scuttle legislation attempting to address the problem, including running ads in Massachusetts that claimed an expansion of that state’s right to repair legislation would only be of benefit to stalkers and sexual predators.

The problem for companies looking to monopolize repair is several fold. One, the harder they try to lock their technologies down, the greater the opposition grows. And that opposition tends to be both broad and bipartisan, ranging from the most fervent of urban Apple fanboys, to the most rural of John Deere tractor owners. This isn’t a battle they’re likely to win, and while we haven’t seen federal legislation on this front passed yet, if the industries continue to push their luck in this space it’s only a matter of time.

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Comments on “New Right To Repair Bill Targets Obnoxious Auto Industry Behavior”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I just hope…

It seems like it, but my casual observation tells me that there’s often an inverse correlation between how much effort the writers put into the title and the value of the overall package. Kudos to them for not trying to shoehorn some "patriot" or "freedom" or such nonsense intended to get an emotional response into it, but the fact they put the effort in to make it recursive gives me pause.

Anonymous Coward says:


which is not something I … can say about US Federal legislation vis-à-vis Tech…

/shakes head sadly

Why do you assume that only US federal legislation about tech is poorly crafted? The fable I heard was about newspapers, but it could equally apply to legislators:

You open the newspaper to an article whose subject you know very well. "This reporter doesn’t know what he’s talking about! I should give him a piece of my mind!"

On the next page is an article whose subject you know very little. "Boy, this reporter sure knows his stuff!"

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If you’re going to compare reporters with legislators, the main difference is that some reporters can fool some of the people some of the time, whereas legislators can fool only themselves.

Secondary to that, reporters have a steady income, whereas legislators receive a varying amount over time, depending on which lobbyists need what legislation to be passed (or opposed).

I’d rather have a reporter making laws for me, instead of a legislator that bought his/her way into the seat of power. At least reporters have seen what’s really happening in the streets of America, to people from all walks of life. Legislators?

(I’ll admit that there have been some exceptions to my thoughts on legislators, but they’ve been too few and much too far between.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Back in 2004, it was the blinking lights that triggered the ‘check engine light’. The automakers were claiming that to be a trade secret and that no independent repair shop should have them. Which in turn gave them the bulk of repairs while the independents were starting to close down because they couldn’t properly diagnose.

This has always been the dealership’s wet dream. To shovel all repairs to their more expensive services. Since their services are always what the traffic will bear or more, they are always pretty much over priced.

There will again come up this sort of thing in the future as they again try to shoehorn in the repairs by locking them down to where only the dealership will be able to repair it. This is twice now this has happened that I am aware of.

ECA (profile) says:


Do you think they will tell groups that you cant Customize ODB2?
That the machines out there for Mechanics to use Cost about 10-20 times MORE then is needed?
That you should not Need a Customized Ship in an ODB2 reader, Just to read what is happening in a car/truck?

With that internal computer system in every car now, you really have little recourse. IF’ ODB isnt a dierct connection to the internal systems, and it has to READ that computer. That computer can Lie all to HELL.

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