SAN DIEGO — Tire Pros wants customers to fight for their Right to Repair.
At Tire Pros' annual National Business Conference and trade show, Feb. 21-24 in San Diego, dealers could check out a sign, available to be displayed in Tire Pros shops, urging customers to learn more about Right to Repair (R2R) by scanning a QR code.
It's one way the organization — the retail marketing arm of American Tire Distributors (ATD) — is asking its dealers to get involved in the fight for vehicle data access.
Recently, federal R2R legislation was reintroduced in Congress. The REPAIR (Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair) Act, H.R. 906, would create a federal R2R law, designed "to ensure consumers have access to data relating to their motor vehicles, critical repair information, and tools, and to provide them choices for the maintenance, service, and repair of their motor vehicles and for other purposes."
The bipartisan bill was reintroduced Feb. 9 by Congressman Neal Dunn, R-Fla., and is backed by a number of industry organizations including the Auto Car Association (ACA), Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), Tire Industry Association (TIA), the Consumer Access to Repair (CAR) Coalition and Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA).
It's also backed by Tire Pro's National Dealer Council.
The REPAIR Act would allow independent dealers to get access to certain telemetrics, information vital for testing and making repairs on newer vehicles, said Ryan Goff, chair of the National Dealer Council and co-owner of Roger's Tire Pros & Auto Care based in Caldwell, Idaho.
Without access to needed data, systems and tools, independent shops in the future wouldn't be able to provide some services. A procedure as simple as replacing a battery, for example, could require a driver to go to a certified dealership instead of a independent repair shop, he said.
Limiting a drivers options for repair doesn't benefit anyone — the driver, independent shops or car dealerships, he noted.
In some parts of the U.S., including Idaho, finding a dealership that can do a fix quickly isn't always easy or feasible, Goff said.
"If you're 150 miles away from a dealer, and you have to get back to that dealer to be helped out, you're going to have some really upset individuals. You've got to have independents that can help out a consumer."
"And competition's good for everyone," he added.
R2R legislation wouldn't allow independent shops to mine information.
"We don't want their info. We just want access to the data that we need," Goff said, likening it to being able to read a car's manual.
If R2R laws aren't adopted, drivers are facing a future with limited choices.
"For the livelihood of our businesses, I think we need it. To be able to fulfill our customers needs and to properly run our stores the way we deserve to," Goff said.
Tire Pros National Dealer Council is working to make federal R2R laws a reality.
Goff and a handful of other Tire Pros dealers — Luke Speck, of Speck Sales Tire Pros in Bowling Green, Ohio; Nick Lenhart, owner of Lenhart's Service Center Tire Pros in Irwin, Pa.; David Little, owner of Little Tire Co. Tire Pros in Fredericksburg, Va.; and Steven Moss of Wilson Tire Pros & Automotive with stores in Elon and Graham, N.C. — took a trip to DC in summer 2022 to speak with members of Congress about the legislation.
For R2R laws to pass, as many independent dealers as possible to need become educated and on board, Goff said. The council is doing its part educating Tire Pros dealers about the issue and encouraging those dealers to pass the message on to their customers.
"It would be a shame for the consumer not to have the choice of where they want to go," he said.
The R2R signage available to dealers has a QR code that leads to an R2R page on the Tire Pros website. From there, customers can read about the issue and send a message to their representatives to urge them pass R2R legislation.
"Just like anything in life, the more informed you are, the more you can do," Goff said.
And many customers aren't informed about this issue.
When Goff's wife made a social media post about the Tire Pros DC trip, and the need for R2R, she got feedback from people who were unaware of R2R and mad at the idea of being restricted in where they go for repairs, he said.
"Our customers were extremely ticked off... The consumer has no idea that that's trying to be done to them. They feel like they're being fleeced in that situation," he said.