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Right to repair pact rejected by major players

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*Editor’s note: This story has been updated with reaction from the Tire Industry Association

An apparent agreement between three groups representing auto repairers, collision shops and automakers in the US on automotive right to repair is being met with pushback from two of the biggest automotive aftermarket organizations in the country.

The Auto Care Association, which includes representation of the distribution, auto repair, tools and equipment and other sectors, bluntly called the “so-called” pact “a thinly veiled attempt to confuse lawmakers and drivers” in the headline of its press release.

MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers, which represents the supplier end of the aftermarket, said in a separate statement that the deal “falls short.”

The agreement between Automotive Service Association (ASA), the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRA) and Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) includes promises to guarantee automotive repair choice for consumers across all vehicle technologies while affirming the 2014 national agreement on right to repair .

The trio said the new deal includes access to diagnostic and repair information, education and training and a level playing field for future advancements.

The Auto Care Association was critical of the details, noting that as an original signatory to the 2014 Memorandum of Understanding, it was not consulted about this arrangement and “was not a party to and does not support the agreement.” It further pointed out that neither ASA nor SCRS did not sign or support the 2014 MOU.

These groups “represent a small fraction of the independent repair market and do not speak for the automotive aftermarket,” the association noted. “Auto Care Association, on the other hand, is a national trade association representing over 536,000 companies and affiliates that manufacture, distribute and sell motor vehicle parts, accessories, services, tools, equipment, materials, and supplies.”

It highlighted “numerous flaws” such as the fact that the agreement is not binding and doesn’t cover all automakers and doesn’t require new OEMs to join. Concerns are also raised around failures to address safety and security concerns of wirelessly transmitted vehicle data.

MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers noted that it was a positive sign that stakeholders could and should come together to work on a solution.

“However, the agreement falls short of all the protections necessary to ensure consumer choice now and into the future for all parties, not only signatories of the pact,” its statement said. “As a transportation industry, we believe that we have an opportunity to pass federal legislation and that legislation must include the ability to prioritize and protect consumers’ access to both light-duty and heavy-duty vehicle repair and maintenance through all iterations of vehicle technology on the road today and to come.

Legislation for right to repair requires a number of key essentials such as coverage for all vehicles in operation (from light- to heavy-duty), an enforcement mechanism, addressing the risk of repair monopolies and more.

It further noted that, like the Auto Care Association, MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers cannot be excluded from the discussion.

“The agreement does advance the conversation around right to repair and consumer choice, but if automakers and repair shops are prioritized over consumers, fair competition and a free market would not be realized. “As a key stakeholder in protecting consumers’ rights and an essential part of the value chain, MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers must be a part of the conversation,” the group said.

Tire Industry Association responds

The pact also doesn’t have the endorsement of the Tire Industry Association (TIA). The group says this agreement “doesn’t go far enough” to address concerns or protect consumers.

“While TIA acknowledges the positive intent and certain aspects of the agreement, the current pact falls short in thoroughly addressing the concerns of consumers and protecting their rights along with those of the independent automotive repair market,” said Roy Littlefield IV, the group’s vice president of government affairs.

It echoed concerns from Auto Care and MEMA about enforceability and powers of the law when it comes to ensuring compliance. TIA believes this will leave consumers vulnerable to inadequate protection and potential exploitation. It further pointed out a lack of guidelines around telematics as

“TIA firmly believes that any meaningful right-to-repair initiative must possess robust enforcement mechanisms to safeguard consumer rights effectively,” Littlefield said in a statement.

It further called out the agreement as a distraction and one that undermines efforts in US Congress to pass a more robust bill, holding potential back progress.

The pact “creates confusion and potential harm, ultimately falling short of meeting the pressing needs of consumers,” Littlefield said.