February 4, 2019

Auto repair coalition revives itself with ad campaign

A coalition of auto repair and parts shops launched a six-figure radio and digital advertising campaign on Monday to build support for an update to the right to repair law, warning of wireless automotive technology advancements that could once again threaten the livelihoods of independent mechanics.

The Right to Repair Coalition, which members say is growing, began airing ads Monday morning on nine radio stations in Boston, Worcester and Springfield markets, including WBZ, WZLX, WRKO and Kiss-108. The group is putting $100,000 behind its initial media buy.

The ad's narrator reminds listeners that 86 percent of voters in 2012 supported a ballot question to ensure that diagnostic repair information was made available to independent repair shops not affiliated with car manufacturers. "But now new technology threatens our choice to get repairs at trusted independent repair shops. Automakers are using a wireless loophole to dodge the law," the narrator says.

The coalition reconstituted itself in September ahead of a planned push this legislative session to update the 2013 law passed by the Legislature. Members say that car manufacturers are increasingly moving away from the plug-in ports that repair shops gained access to five years ago.

The coalition estimates that by 2020 more than 90 percent of new cars and trucks will wirelessly transmit real-time vehicle diagnostic and performance data to manufacturers, potentially inhibiting independent shops from being able to repair cars or compete with authorized dealerships.

Bills filed this session are proposing to require manufacturers by 2022 to equip vehicles with a system that would allow the owner to access diagnostic information through a mobile app, and make that data available to any repair shop the owner chooses.

Sponsors of these bills, all of which filed separate legislation, include Democratic Reps. Michael Day, John Mahoney, Jerald Parisella, Sean Garballey, Joan Meschino, Paul McMurtry, Patricia Haddad, Dan Ryan, Jim Arciero and William Driscoll, and House Minority Leader Brad Jones and Republican Rep. Todd Smola. On the Senate side, Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Sen. Barry Finegold have also filed versions.


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