Representatives from seven automotive aftermarket associations, including the Tire Industry Association, have written Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., urging him to continue his support of the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right-to-Repair Act.
Sen. Wellstone was the Senate sponsor of the legislation, which mandates that original equipment auto makers provide all necessary service information and diagnostic tools to independent auto repair shops, in a readily available and reasonably priced format.
At a Senate subcommittee hearing on the bill in late July, representatives of auto manufacturing associations pledged to work with the aftermarket to ensure that all such information and tools would be made accessible. The same associations, along with the Automotive Service Association, claimed a breakthrough Sept. 20 when their members pledged to support an agreement to make the information and tools available by Aug. 31, 2003.
According to the Oct. 2 letter, however, the ASA and the auto makers never consulted the other aftermarket associations in any way while negotiating the agreement. The Aug. 31, 2003, deadline is actually eight months later, the letter noted, than what the auto makers promised in a ``statement of intent'' about information access that the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers issued in October 2001.
``We do not believe that the letter proposal between the car manufacturers and ASA provides any meaningful protection for consumers,'' the letters' signers said. ``It is apparent the agreement needs an enforcement mechanism. Thus, the legislative remedy you initiated is very much in order.''
Besides TIA, the signatory associations on the letter included the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers, the Service Station Dealers of America and Allied Trades and the Associated Locksmiths of America.
According to a recent CARE press release, car dealer vehicle repairs can cost up to 20 percent more than what independent repair shops charge-thus greatly impacting low, fixed and middle-income drivers.
Meanwhile, several automotive aftermarket companies and associations have placed advertisements in two top Capitol Hill newspapers-Roll Call and The Hill-thanking U.S. Representatives Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., for their solid commitment to motoring consumers by continuing to support the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right-to-Repair Act. The Congressmen introduced HR 2735 in August 2001 and have contacted key colleagues urging co-sponsorship and congressional action, including hearings.
Companies and organizations sponsoring the ads included those that sent the letter to Sen. Wellstone.
(See related story on page 6.)