FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lawmakers met in Washington, D.C. Thursday to talk about the ‘REPAIR Act’. The bill, introduced by Florida Representative Neal Dunn, could reshape the automotive repair industry by offering consumers and independent shops easier access to essential data about their cars.
Currently, car manufacturers limit access to this electronic data, making it available through expensive equipment that typically only dealerships have. The 'REPAIR Act' aims to change this, offering car owners and independent repair shops the right to access a vehicle's electronic information without relying on costly dealership services.
Jason LaBonte, an Operations Executive and Master Tech at Legendary Automotive and Truck Service, emphasizes the importance of the 'REPAIR Act.'
"If the Dealer Association makes it easier for us to obtain that information, it's essentially going to make it cost less for the consumer to have their vehicle repaired," he explained.
LaBonte believes that increased access to part-specific information will allow third-party companies to produce higher-quality aftermarket parts for repairing older vehicles, providing consumers with more cost-effective repair options.
“A lot of people are trying to keep their vehicles on the road for longer than what the dealer wants you to keep them on the road for. So, we run into challenges with discontinued parts and aftermarket companies that aren’t able to recreate those parts,” LaBonte said.
But, when it comes to security specific information, the National Automobile Dealers Association believes that the current limits are a good thing. They released a statement in June of this year that said the bill would create new privacy, vehicle security and safety risks.
LaBonte agreed that these are all valid concerns.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that every consumer should have access to the security levels that we have as a repair facility," he said. "When we’re working on newer vehicles that have security gateway modules and we’re trying to program and learn keys - they really make the aftermarket automotive world jump through hoops.”
With appropriate regulations around security-specific components, LaBonte believes the 'REPAIR Act' will ultimately benefit the market.
He believes individuals with business licenses and certifications for servicing and repairing vehicles should have easy access to the necessary data, allowing them to perform their jobs effectively and, in turn, provide valuable assistance to the public.