Bill Could Set Standards for Auto Repair Shops

A bill is before the New Jersey state legislature that would have a big impact on the auto repair business. It would set a standard for all repair shops, from the smallest to the larger car dealerships.

So far the Assembly has passed the bill, which requires that manufacturers provide the appropriate technical information for every car model starting from the year 2002.

“As cars have become more technologically advanced, manufacturers have gained an unfair advantage by forcing owners to rely on dealerships for even the most routine maintenance,” says Assemblyman Paul Moriarty who helped sponsor the bill. “Every motorist should have access to the array of diagnostic codes locked into a vehicle’s computer and decide for themselves who they want to service their vehicle.”

The way the system works now, shops can pay for a subscription service provided by the manufacturers. In some instances, they would be unable to perform the repair without the information they obtain through their subscription.

In some instances, even the ability to perform a repair or installation does not mean that the repair shop will have a satisfied customer. For example some radios can be evaluated and replaced, but the new unit won’t work without a code provided by the dealership. Small shops are greatly impacted. Technicians at these independent shops may have the training and skills to perform repairs that they still cannot do without dealership codes.

Starting in 2018, the bill requires manufacturers to use standard interfaces and open access to their systems via any type of personal computers, not only specific models from the manufacturers themselves.

Some view the bill as a good step for consumer rights. When consumers have better choices, they are more likely to receive competitive pricing options.  

Posted on January 9, 2014 at 10:00 AM