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Right-to-Repair Makes Ballot in Mass.

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July 30, 2020—The Right to Repair is a hot button issue in the automotive repair industry, both for independent shops and dealerships. 

The Right to Repair Law has been around since 2012. It states that consumers have the right to be able to fix their vehicle as they choose, which includes a choice of where they take it to be fixed.

The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition relaunched in support of a new ballot measure that includes telematic systems and the information that is transmitted to vehicle manufacturers. The coalition wants to make sure that independents have access to that information. According to the Massachusetts Right to Repair website, more than 90 percent of new cars will transmit real-time repair information wirelessly, and independent repair shops will have limited to no access. 

“Automakers are increasingly restricting access through rapidly expanding wireless technologies in vehicles not covered under current law,” the coalition said in a statement to The Boston Herald, adding that if repair shops can’t get that data, “car owners have no choice but to be steered by vehicle manufacturers towards more expensive automaker authorized repair options.”

The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition is pushing an update, the Car Repair Choice law, which will be on the November ballot. On July 1, The Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee turned in 24,000 signatures to the Secretary of States, which is close to double the amount that is required by law to have a question placed on the ballot. 

Vehicle manufacturers challenged it, arguing that the Right to Repair Committee disobeyed signature-gathering requirements outlined by the Massachusetts Supreme Court by storing the signatures in a separate file and tracking personal data without notification, according to a press release from the Auto Care Association. 

Helen Brady, a candidate for Congress, had a legal challenge approved after using the same signature-gathering vendors. Because of this, vehicle manufacturers withdrew their challenge. 

The fight for access to vehicle information is an important one. After all, whoever controls or has access to the information will have a leg up on getting customers to come in. Groups like the Right to Repair Coalition say that if independent shop owners do not have the same access that dealerships do, they will suffer.

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