Massachusetts Voters Overwhelmingly Pass Car Right-to-Repair Ballot Initiative (vice.com) 21

Posted by msmash on Wednesday November 04, 2020 @03:50PM from the moving-forward dept.

Massachusetts overwhelmingly voted to extend its automobile right to repair law, in a huge win for consumers. From a report: Question 1 was the most expensive measure battle in Massachusetts history with the auto industry (and independent repair companies) spending tens of millions of dollars lobbying, according to the Boston Globe.

The measure is an essential win for independent mechanics, auto-repair shops, and consumers, as it will require car manufacturers to continue to make diagnostic tools available for years to come. Under the law, car manufacturers will be required to use an open-data system in cars using telematics. This means mechanics will have access to wirelessly sent repair data — whether they are associated with an official car dealership or an independent shop.

While cars currently use a wired connection for diagnostics, there was concern among independent repair professionals that car manufacturers would switch to a wireless system in order to circumvent a 2012 right to repair law that required car dealers make wired repair codes universal. As new car models are produced in coming years, the thought is many will ditch physical diagnostic ports and instead, cars will wirelessly send repair information. Tuesday’s ballot measure closes a loophole in the 2012 law that would have exempted wireless diagnostics from the law.

Right to repair advocates have hailed the measure. iFixit’s Kevin Purdy wrote of the significance of the vote, “that means that independent repair shops will have a level playing field with car makers and dealerships, which have turned increasingly to locked-down wirelessly collected repair data, or telematics.

Car owners, too, will be able to see their cars’ maintenance information through a smartphone app. And it opens the door for innovations, like wireless diagnostic apps for iOS and Android.”

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