MASSE IN THE NEWS: MPs push law to help auto shops

Nanaimo News Bulletin
MPs push law to help auto shops
By Toby Gorman - Nanaimo News Bulletin

Published: July 06, 2009 3:00 PM

Automakers could soon be required by law to make information, software and tools available to independent auto repair shops.

Brian Masse, a New Democrat MP from Windsor, Ont., introduced the Right to Repair private member’s bill in 2007 in an effort to level the playing field for consumers as to where they can have their newer, more complex vehicles fixed or serviced.

The main concern is the increasing technology in new vehicles that demand specialized software and tools to diagnose proper maintenance of emissions, safety standards and operations of vehicles, especially for newer vehicles under warranty.

Complex on-board diagnostic capabilities were introduced by the auto industry in 1998 and are on about 60 per cent of Canada’s 18.4 million vehicles.

“A law is the only real protection for vehicle owners,” said Masse, who was at Mid-Island Automative in Nanaimo Friday to campaign for the bill with Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP MP Jean Crowder. “No group of foreign companies should dictate to Canadian consumers what the automotive marketplace should be.”

Automakers already provide information for most models at a cost to aftermarket repair shops, but aren’t required to do so.

The bill passed second reading in the House of Commons on May 13 by a vote of 247 to 18. But that doesn’t ensure its success.

It still has to go through an Industry Committee hearing in the fall. If successful there, it will still be subject to a third reading.

Ron Jones of Mid-Island Automotive said having a law in place provides the aftermarket industry with security, especially during a tumultuous time in the auto sector.

“This is nothing against dealerships, but people should be able to choose where they want to take their vehicles for service even if the car is under warranty,” said Jones, adding that he still has to pay for the information and tools for all makes and models. “If this bill passes, people probably won’t notice a difference. If it doesn’t pass, they will.”

Jones said he worries if the bill doesn’t pass and automakers aren’t required to share the information and technology, people will be faced with less service and more expensive repairs.

“With hundreds of dealerships closing, if there is a monopoly, people will have to wait days or weeks for repairs and pay far higher amounts. That means people will be driving vehicles that aren’t properly serviced.”

Similar laws have already been passed in Europe and the U.S.