Right to Repair Act considered in Connecticut

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Updated Mar 28, 2011

The Right to Repair Act is under consideration in the Connecticut legislature. Proposed Bill No. 160, introduced by Sen. Martin Looney, would require car companies to share diagnostic codes with independent repair technicians, facilitating choices for consumers because independent shops would have equal access to the same nonproprietary repair codes and service information as the new car dealerships.

“Today, nearly every vehicle system, from air bags to tires, is controlled or monitored by onboard computers,” says Aaron Lowe, vice president of government affairs for the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. “While these computers provide important benefits in terms of safety, fuel efficiency and convenience, they also have provided the vehicle manufacturer with the ability to control who perform repairs.”

Lowe, who testified before the Joint Committee on General Law, urged the committee to approve the bill to ensure that independent shops have the ability to repair today’s highly sophisticated computer-driven vehicle systems, stating that Right to Repair legislation now under consideration in many states and Congress would require car companies to make available, at a fair and reasonable cost, the same tools and information that they make available to their franchised dealers, thus ensuring that consumers can have a choice on where they bring their vehicle. In addition to Connecticut, Right to Repair bills have been introduced in Massachusetts, New York and Oregon.

“The basic concept behind Right to Repair is that a car owner who spends an enormous percentage of their household savings to purchase a new or used car, should have the ability to determine who repairs their vehicle, whether it’s the new dealer or the independent shop,” Low says. “In the current scenario, the company has all of the power to make that determination.”

Lowe took issue with allegations made by the car companies and their dealers that testified that Right to Repair would require car companies to expose trade secrets. “Right to Repair legislation provides extensive protection for car company trade secrets, and the car companies have never been able to point to a provision in any of the current bills that has the potential to violate their intellectual property rights,” Lowe says.

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