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Updated: May 11, 2023

Independent mechanics push legislators to advance right-to-repair law

Hands working on a car part Photo / Courtesy More than 90% of new cars are equipped to wirelessly transmit real-time diagnostic/repair information, but only to manufacturers, making it difficult for consumers to get their cars fixed at independent repair shops, Maine legislators were told this week.

Independent mechanics, employees and supporters told Maine legislators this week that a “right-to-repair” law is needed to protect independent shops that have been shut out as technology advances and it becomes harder to access essential diagnostics.

A group called the Maine Automobile Right to Repair Committee submitted more than 70,000 voter signatures to the Secretary of State to get a voter initiative on the November ballot.

“Wireless technology allows automakers to send diagnostic information directly to car manufacturers, which then provide that information to their dealerships,” Tommy Hickey, the committee’s director, said in a news release. “Independent repair shops are essentially shut out. This hurts small businesses throughout Maine who employ thousands and it hurts consumers who don’t want to pay high dealer prices for repairs.” 

More than 90% of new cars are now equipped to transmit real-time diagnostic and repair information wirelessly only to manufacturers, making it difficult for consumers to get their cars fixed at independent repair shops or to do the work themselves, according to the committee.

A national agreement in 2013 between automakers and the auto repair and auto parts industries provided that automakers would provide access to repair and diagnostic codes and information. But the provision didn’t cover rapidly expanding wireless technologies. 

The ballot question, framed as LD 1677, would give Maine car and truck owners access to all the diagnostic and repair data generated by their vehicles so they can opt to provide access to any dealer, repair shop, or automaker they choose.

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