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Published on July 5, 2006

Don't let repair act support wane

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Opinion

AKRON (July 3, 2006) — It appears the effort to pass the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act is losing some steam, as five members of Congress who initially supported the bill recently removed their names as co-sponsors.


While the proposed legislation still has solid backing, with 97 House members supporting it, this shift in momentum is not a good sign.


For tire dealers and owners of independent auto repair shops who favor this bill, now is the time to make your voice heard on this issue with your local congressional representatives.


The bill needs all the help and support it can get if it's ever going to become law.


As written, the Right to Repair Act would establish criminal sanctions against auto makers that don't provide diagnostic information to independent garages as they do to their car dealerships. It also would mandate the Federal Trade Commission to enforce these sanctions.


Here's why this is important.


A tire dealer told us recently that he had a vehicle come into his repair shop for tire work. This vehicle had a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) that needed to be reset or recalibrated after the work was completed.


The only problem was the tire dealership didn't have the information it needed to reset the system.


So, to be able to service this customer's vehicle properly, the tire dealership had to have the car driven to an auto dealership several miles away to have the TPMS system reset.


Think about the ramifications of this. For one, this highly respected tire dealership had to take a customer's vehicle to a competing shop to complete a tire-related service because information to work on an electronic component on the vehicle wasn't readily available.


Not only was this embarrassing to the tire dealership, but it put the shop in the uncomfortable position of having to admit to a customer that it couldn't completely service the tire needs of that vehicle.


While this might not have been such a big deal in the past, today many car dealerships are entering the tire business aggressively, selling and servicing their customers' tire needs.


So in essence, this tire dealership opened the door for a competing business to steal one of its customers. And this scenario is playing out at tire dealerships across the country.


Some people think the voluntary agreement forged between the Automotive Service Association and the auto makers is enough to ensure the adequate flow of service information to the independent repair industry.


But are you prepared to trust the long-term survival of your business to a handshake agreement?


If not, then it's time to make some noise and tell your congressional leaders why the Right to Repair Act is important—and why it's critical that the legislation pass.

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