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Right to Repair laws give what has heretofore been proprietary manufacturer information to independent shops. The idea is that by restricting certain types of repair to dealerships – for instance, software issues in a hybrid – it’s anticompetitive. Not to mention onerous for consumers who might well have to schlep many miles to their dealership, especially considering the thousands of dealerships that have closed in the last few years, with hundreds more to come.
So it sounds like law that would be of obvious benefits to consumers, and straightforward to enact. But it isn’t. Federal Right to Repair law has been stymied in Congress since 2001, and no state has yet to pass it, thanks to an enormous anti-passage lobbying effort from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. Their main beef has been that with uncertain, or downright awful, new car sales numbers, repair business is vital in keeping dealerships afloat.
AAM’s objections may finally be overcome in Massachusetts, however, if Senate Bill No. 2517 is passed. As with everywhere else Right to Repair has been considered, it’s been an arduous process, but with the backing of more than 1,000 garages, it may be heading to the Governor’s desk – the Commonwealth Senate passed their version on July 6, and it was referred to the House Committee On Ways and Means, where they are presumably reconciling it with the House version. There is widespread speculation that passage in Massachusetts will give other states the backbone needed to proceed with their own efforts, although it will be difficult to reconcile with dealership protection provisions active in many areas.