DePaul & Michigan law professors weigh in on right to repair – Repairer Driven News
The CAR Coalition has released two research papers written by law professors that support the passage of federal legislation to support making OEM repair procedures and parts more accessible to give consumers the right to repair in both the collision and mechanical repair industries. However, the research shies away from efforts by insurers, often as a cost savings measure, to block reimbursements for repairs made using those procedures.
The coalition’s members include insurers, insurance and aftermarket parts trade associations, and parts dealers — some of which have actively opposed legislative initiatives that would require collision shops and insurers to follow OEM repair procedures in order to provide safe and proper repairs. The research papers argue that the issue is OEMs cutting off competition with aftermarket parts manufacturers and sellers by patenting parts and their designs as limiting access to necessary information for repairs.
Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg addressed the topic earlier this year to say that OEMs barring access to repair procedures, training, and tools isn’t the issue and reiterated that sentiment this week.
“In the collision repair market, well-trained, well-equipped repair facilities are not struggling to gain access to collision repair procedures, but rather struggle to get insurance companies to recognize and reimburse for the necessary safety procedures spelled out in the readily available repair procedures,” Schulenburg said.
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) also takes that stance. “Competition is alive and well in the automotive repair industry,” AAI Senior Director State Affairs Wayne Weikel told RDN. “Drivers today have a range of repair options: from a dealer repair facility to a national chain repairer to an independent repair facility. Seventy percent of most post-warranty vehicle work today is completed by the independent aftermarket. The Federal Trade Commission – the government’s top consumer protection and competition agency – has cited the automotive industry as an example of the repair aftermarket ‘working well.’ Finally, automakers make available to independent repair shops all the tools, parts and service information needed to diagnose and repair a vehicle today. Independent repair shops are a vital part of the overall repair ecosystem and the system is working.”
AAI provides more information in its right to repair myth vs. fact sheet.
CAR Coalition Executive Director Justin Rzepka, in a Sept. 20 news release, states that “Repair restrictions on automobiles are driving prices higher at a time when many Americans can least afford it. These research papers demonstrate the impacts of these restrictions on consumers’ bottom lines. As technology develops, policy surrounding these issues must as well. It’s time for Congress to get serious about solutions, including the REPAIR Act and SMART Act, to ensure consumers have options for quality, safe, affordable auto repairs and more control over their data.”
Rzepka didn’t respond to questions from RDN by the publication deadline.
Legislation that CAR Coalition and its paid researchers back are the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry (REPAIR) Act and the Save Money on Auto Repair Transportation Act (SMART) Act. Neither has moved past being introduced.
The REPAIR Act would require automakers “to provide to a vehicle’s owner certain direct, real-time, in-vehicle data generated by the operation of the vehicle that is related to diagnostics, repair, service, wear, and calibration or recalibration of parts and systems of the vehicle,” according to the bill text. It would also mandate the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue standards for access to vehicle data through a standardized access …….