If you run an independent tire dealership or automotive repair shop and would like to ensure consistent and timely access to automotive diagnostic information and repair tools to service your customers' vehicles, now is the time to speak up.
That's because the House Energy and Commerce Committee is considering a vote on the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act (HR 2048) in December. If it passes, the bill would move on to Congress for debate and voting.
The best thing tire dealers and repair shop owners who favor the bill can do now is let their congressional representatives know of their position on HR 2048 and to encourage them to support the legislation. The more-and louder-the voices, the better the chance of keeping the bill alive.
Don't take the matter lightly: This legislation is crucial to the livelihood of all independent re-pair shops.
It would require auto makers to provide them with all of the information needed to replace, repair, diagnose, install, service, activate or certify any equipment in a vehicle. It also would mandate the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to develop and enforce rules requiring car makers to provide such information to vehicle owners and repair shops.
In effect, it would put some teeth into the current handshake agreement forged between the automobile makers and the Automotive Service Association to provide this information voluntarily.
For tire dealers and other independent repair shops, passage of HR 2048 means they would not be handicapped in offering repair services for lack of updated diagnostic information or tools.
It also would ensure that all consumers have a choice of where they can take their vehicle for service and repair-not just to a car dealership.
The issue takes on added importance for tire dealers as a result of the federal requirement that all new vehicles come equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).
The last thing tire dealers need is to have to send their customers to an auto dealership because they don't have the necessary information to service and/or recalibrate the TPMS system-especially since many auto dealerships continue to woo tire consumers heavily.
Many in Congress and at the FTC would prefer to see a voluntary, self-regulatory approach to governing the issue of aftermarket access to diagnostic and repair information. With the various industry groups and auto makers squabbling over the makeup of the governing board that would oversee the auto makers-and continuing questions about how much those car makers are charging shops to access the information-it's unclear whether an acceptable compromise can be worked out.
As much as anyone hates to see another level of government oversight on industry, passage of the Right to Repair Act makes sense for tire dealers and independent shop owners, and they should work to make that happen.