No Action on Senate Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Bill to Date

Legislation introduced in the Senate recently is designed to allow consumers to choose between OE and aftermarket parts. S2138 IS, the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act of 2003, was reintroduced in February 2004 by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, was written "to protect the rights of American consumers to diagnose, service and repair motor vehicles purchased in the United State, and for other purposes."

The Act has been read twice before the Senate and has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation where it can remained stalled since then.

The purposes of the Act, as it is currently written, are:

  • To require the Federal Trade Commission to prescribe and enforce rules necessary to ensure the right of a motor vehicle owner to obtain all information required for the diagnosis, service and repair of a vehicle.
  • To ensure the safety of all vehicle owners by requiring disclosure of all information necessary for the proper diagnosis, service and repair of a vehicle in a timely, affordable and reliable manner; and
  • To encourage competition in the diagnosis, service and repair of motor vehicles.

Under the Act, vehicle owners should have the right to choose between original parts and aftermarket parts when repairing their vehicle and to make, or have made, repairs necessary to keep their vehicles in reasonably good and serviceable condition during the expected vehicle life. The language of the Act indicates that currently, the restrictions on vehicle repair information that are in place, "limit who can repair motor vehicles and what parts may be used to repair those vehicles, which limits consumer choice and … competition."

The Act also addresses manufacturer disclosure requirements, including the protection of trade secrets, unfair or deceptive acts or practice, private right of action and rulemaking. If passed, the Act would allow vehicle owners or repair facilities to bring civil action against those who have violated the Act with the right to recover all reasonable litigation fees.

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