Many repair shops, especially those who sign up and pay to be part of these certified networks, say they have no trouble finding the information they need to repair cars, even before the deal. from this week. Michael Bradshaw, vice president of K&M Collision in Hickory, North Carolina, and vice president of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists, one of the groups that signed the new agreement, says his shop is paying to keep up 30 automaker certification programs, including for Kia, General Motors, Bentley and Rivian.
In a way, Bradshaw agrees with repair advocates: This week’s deal doesn’t give him anything he doesn’t already have. “If there’s repair data and information, we’ve always been able to get it,” says Bradshaw. But he disagrees that it’s a problem repairers have to pay, sometimes dearly, for the tools, certifications and information to fix cars.
Bradshaw thinks it’s reasonable that he should pay for automaker certification programs, because developing automotive technology — and the documentation needed to fix it — costs the automaker a lot of money. He is willing to shell out whatever is necessary to perform a safe and effective repair. “If it was a situation where there was no charge for access, you’re going to see that information is going to suffer,” he says, because automakers will have less incentive to spend resources creating clear information for repairers. “Companies struggling to pay for the data they need are the same companies that don’t invest in training or equipment.”
Other repairers worry that without an industry-wide overhaul that forces automakers to standardize and open up their data, automakers will find ways to limit access to repair information or push customers to their own dealer networks to increase their profits. They say that if auto owners had clear and direct ownership over the data generated by their vehicles – without the involvement of automakers’ specialized tools or systems – they could use it themselves to diagnose and repair a car, or authorize the repair shop of their choice. to do the job. “My fear, if no one gives stricter guidelines, is that I know automakers are going to monetize car data in ways that we can’t access it,” says Dwayne Myers, co-owner of Dynamic Automotive, a auto repair business. with multiple locations in Maryland.
“You have to think not just about where it is now, but where it will be in five or 10 years,” says Roberts, the right to repair advocate. “It’s easier to approach this now, in the early days.”
Perhaps by design, the new deal appeared just before a right to repair hearing by a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and the Internet. A bipartisan group of representatives have already presented bills on the subject.
The hearing follows national wrangling over a Massachusetts law passed by 2020 ballot which gave state car owners firmer control over the data generated by their cars. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation sued the state over the law, preventing lawmakers from enforcing it, and a judge has yet to rule on the case. But last month, the Massachusetts attorney general announced it would begin penalizing automakers that withheld data for violating the rule. A few days later, the US Department of Transportation warned automakers not to comply with Massachusetts law, citing fears it would open up vehicles to hacking. The letter appeared to contradict the Biden administration prior commitments on right to redress issues.
Alliance spokesman Brian Weiss declined to comment on the Massachusetts law, citing ongoing litigation. But how or whether the new agreement will affect other states’ right to repair policies is up to policymakers, he says. It urges trade groups that have signed on to push for federal rules defining the right to repair and against state law, which could create a patchwork of laws with different obligations for DIYers or independent repairers. This echoes an agreement signed earlier this year by tractor manufacturer John Deere and a major agricultural trade groupwhich proponents say failed to give farmers clear access to the tools and software needed to repair their farm equipment.
Myers, the independent repairer in Maryland, says allowing customers to own their car data today would first and foremost give them the right to choose where they get their car repaired. But it is also looking to the future. “Along the way, we’ll find out what automakers collect,” he says – and why. He prefers to establish car owners’ right to control that information now, before they find out too late that it’s being used in ways they don’t like.