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AAA urges Mass. voters to OK ‘Right to Repair’ law

Despite a compromise on the “Right to Repair” issue, AAA of Southern New England said it’s encouraging Massachusetts voters to support a ballot question on Nov. 6 that would overturn the current law.

The announcement comes on the heels of a movement to encourage voters to skip Question 1 on their ballots so the measure will not pass and the compromise law would stay intact. The ballot question would require auto manufacturers to make available diagnostic and repair information through a universal software system that could be accessed by dealers and independent shops.

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Groups that had been on opposite sides of the original legislation had come together to support the compromise, and in September they urged voters to skip the ballot question. The Right to Repair issue remained on the ballot because the law was enacted after the initiative was already approved on the ballot.

But AAA still wants voters to say yes to Question 1, arguing the consumer has the right to all information about his or her vehicle.

“AAA wholeheartedly believes that motor vehicle owners have the right to choose where they want to have their vehicles repaired,” said Mark A. Shaw, AAA Southern New England chief executive said in a release. “Your vehicle produces valuable information about its health and condition. AAA thinks you should own this information, all of it, and should be free to share it as you see fit.”

Supporters of the original Right to Repair bill have said it would allow consumers to have their cars repaired wherever they choose. Opponents have said individuals and independent mechanics can already get the tools and software needed to repair most vehicles, and a such a law might force manufacturing design changes that would result in higher sticker prices on cars.

Under the deal worked out by lawmakers in late July, manufacturers will have until 2018 to satisfy the requirement that they provide easy access to onboard diagnostic and repair information — three years more than called for by the ballot initiative.

Dan Gage, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers that opposed the original Right to Repair bill, said the group still stands by the compromise law.

“For us in this industry for us to agree, this was a big deal on the industry’s part,” he said. AAA “won’t stop us.”

Laura Finaldi can be reached at
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