What will change?

Today (July 31, 2012) it was announced that the Massachusetts state legislature has passed a Right to Repair bill. If the governor signs it as expected, the new law will require car companies to “immediately make available to the independent vehicle repair industry the same tools, software and repair information that they make available to the franchised dealers.” By model year 2018, they will also be required to “maintain all of their software and service information in an electronic database that is available to consumers and independent service facilities on a subscription basis.” Except for the reference to consumer access, and assuming “software” means control unit update software, this mimics a voluntary agreement reached 10 years ago between the professional service industry and most auto companies (the few notable hold-outs have since seen the light).

The bill also requires companies to provide “diagnostic and repair software through a standardized interface” and “access to the most up-to-date tools that are now often only available to franchised dealer technicians.” This information is from a press release, but if it reflects the actual language in the bill, the biggest difference between the pending legislation and the existing voluntary agreement (other than tool availability, also provided in the earlier agreement) is mention of “reduced capital costs” made possible by the “standardized interface.”

Just for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume the real differences between the existing agreement and the Massachusetts bill are as minor as they seem (a risky assumption I know, but just for the sake of this discussion). What would this mean to your business? Have you ever bought or rented the same tools used by car dealers or accessed factory service information, as made possible by the voluntary agreement? If not, will a new law make you more likely to buy "the same tools, software and repair information” that dealers use today? If so, why?

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