A Win for Your Shop

Last month, the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection of the U.S. House of Representatives took a "mark up" vote on H.R. 2048, The Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act of 2005. I am happy to report that the bill passed in committee, by a vote of 14-13. While this is a victory for many of our readers, the bill still has a long way to go before it becomes law.

According to the Coalition for Auto Repair Equity (CARE), H.R. 2048 has over 100 co-sponsors and is sponsored by U.S. Representatives Joe Barton (R-TX), Chairman, House Energy and Commerce Committee, Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Darrell Issa (R-CA). The bill would mandate that automobile OEMs make the same technical repair information that they provide their dealers available to independent shops, fleet shops and "do-it-yourselfers." We have written about this bill before, and we feel it's important legislation that will level the competitive playing field for fleet and independent repair shops.

As motor vehicles have become more complex (and more costly to maintain and repair), access to technical repair information has become more crucial. But if fleets and independent shops can't get the same information as the dealer, repair work will be siphoned off by dealers, and fleets will lose more control over the costs of owning and operating their vehicles.

CARE states that 62 percent of the people surveyed in a recent poll would be more apt to support a Congressional candidate who favored requiring auto manufacturers to "share all vehicle repair information" with vehicle owners and their mechanics. In a statement preceding the vote, CARE said, "Consumers may think they own their cars, and can get them repaired anywhere they want. Unfortunately, the car companies are keeping the ownership rights to the repair information contained in a new car's computer, and only dealership service centers have full access to it. The car companies control who can repair the car, not the car owner. The Right to Repair Act in Congress will protect car ownership and provide choice in repair."

A 14-13 vote is a squeaker, folks. It's time to contact your Congressperson and urge him or her to support H.R. 2048. The bill, and your livelihood, could depend on it.

In other industry news, the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) of American Trucking Associations is taking applications for a diesel truck technician scholarship to WyoTech, a technical college located in Laramie, Wyoming and Blairsville, Pennsylvania. Both WyoTech and TMC will administer the scholarship program. Applications must be received by August 18, 2006.

The scholarship offering is part of an ongoing effort by TMC's Professional Technician Development Committee (PTDC) to promote and enhance the professionalism of commercial vehicle technicians. TMC's PTDC will help determine the winner of the WyoTech scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded for 1,500 clock hours (nine months) attendance to either WyoTech's Laramie or Blairsville campus.

Students may select from start dates of:

  • Monday, Oct. 2, 2006;
  • Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007; or
  • Monday, Apr. 2, 2007.

To be considered for the TMC/WyoTech scholarship:

a. Student must have a sponsor who is a current dues-paying member of the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC), or is employed/contracted by a company with at least one current dues-paying TMC member; and

b. Application must be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from the sponsor.

Applicants must be graduating from an accredited vocational, public, private, or parochial high school. It is necessary for the applicant or applicant's high school counselor to send TMC a high school transcript showing the most recent three years' academic performance. WyoTech must accept all applicants prior to award.

A full application can be obtained by calling TMC at 703-838-1763, or can be downloaded at http://tmc.truckline.com. TMC offices must receive the entire package by Aug. 18, 2006 for consideration in the upcoming academic year.

For information about the technician curriculum at WyoTech, contact WyoTech President Guy Warpness, 877-523-5120, or go to http://www.wyotech.com