Massachusetts Right to Repair
The Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act guarantees every car owner's right to have their vehicle serviced at the repair facility of their choice, this was the Auto Care Association’s principal policy objective for many years. The industry’s wildly successful campaign in Massachusetts paved the way for a national solution, eventually finalized in a 2014 memorandum of understanding between the Auto Care Association, Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE), and vehicle manufacturers. For the first time ever, new car manufacturers must make the same service information and tools available to independent repair shops that they provide for their franchised dealers. This MOU has become the model for right to repair agreements across the U.S. for many of the industries mentioned above.
However, the Massachusetts Right to Repair law and subsequent national agreement specifically excluded telematics, which is the data transmitted wirelessly from the vehicle to the manufacturer, as written in the excerpt from the act relative to Automotive Repair (excerpt shown below). In order for the independent auto care industry to maintain and service today's "connected" vehicles, it must be granted access to this information. The industry once again took the fight to Massachusetts in 2020 in order to ensure Right to Repair applies to the next generation of vehicles. On November 3, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot initiative that would provide car owners with access to their mechanical data and would permit owners to share that data with the repair shop of their choice. Read more here.
AN ACT RELATIVE TO AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR (2013, Ch. 165)
“(f) With the exception of telematics diagnostic and repair information that is provided to dealers, necessary to diagnose and repair a customer’s vehicle and not otherwise available to an independent repair facility via the tools specified in paragraph (1) of subsection (c) and paragraph (1) of subsection (d), nothing in this chapter shall apply to telematics services or any other remote or information service, diagnostic or otherwise, delivered to or derived from a motor vehicle by mobile communications; provided, however, that nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate a telematics services contract or other contract that exists between a manufacturer or service provider, an owner or a dealer. For the purposes of this chapter, telematics services shall include, but not be limited to, automatic airbag deployment and crash notification, remote diagnostics, navigation, stolen vehicle location, remote door unlock, transmitting emergency and vehicle location information to public safety answering points and any other service integrating vehicle location technology and wireless communications. Nothing in this chapter shall require a manufacturer or a dealer to disclose to any person the identity of existing customers or customer lists.” Access full act here.
The Auto Care Association supports this measure which ensures Massachusetts citizens can allow their repairer of choice to access their vehicle repair and maintenance data. It promotes transparency and consumer rights while preserving the cybersecurity of their vehicle and its data.
How This Impacts You
Passage of this legislation means that car owners will continue to determine where they have their vehicle maintained and repaired, thus ensuring a competitive repair marketplace in Massachusetts. Supporters further hope that action by Massachusetts voters will spur serious consideration of federal legislation to ensure that all U.S. car owners can continue to decide where and how their vehicle is maintained.
November 3, 2020 – Election Day in the United States proved to be a moment of victory for the auto care industry. Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot initiative that would provide car owners with access to their mechanical data and would permit owners to share that data with the repair shop of their choice. Specifically, this ballot initiative mandates:
- Prospective owners of motor vehicles to receive a notice when they purchase a vehicle that includes an explanation of motor vehicle telematics and its purposes, a description summarizing the mechanical data collected, stored, and transmitted by a telematics system and the owner’s ability to access the vehicle’s mechanical data through a mobile device and owner’s right to authorize an independent shop to access the mechanical data for the purposes of diagnostics repair and maintenance.
- Beginning with model year 2022, all manufacturers that utilize telematics systems to equip their vehicles with “an inter-operable, standardized and open access platform that is capable of securely communicating all mechanical data emanating directly from the motor vehicle via direct data connection to the platform.”
- Access to on-board diagnostic systems be standardized and not require authorization from the vehicle manufacturer for access.
Vehicle manufacturers, who profit off of selling vehicle data and restricting independent repair shop access spent millions of dollars to scare Massachusetts voters into opposing this measure and engaged in voter suppression efforts that included urging federal lawmakers to preempt this state ballot measure without any federal standards in place that will ensure that owners have transparency and control of data generated by their motor vehicles. The automakers filed a lawsuit to overturn the voter approved law and the case went to trial in the summer of 2021. A verdict has been delayed seven times and we still await a decision from the judge as of early 2023.
The fight for federal legislation to secure our rights across the United States has just begun. Learn about the recently introduced REPAIR Act and how it aims to protect consumers and our industry nationwide.
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