A Massachusetts law protects the right to repair your own car. Automakers are suing.
January 11, 2023 – In 2013, long before there was a national campaign pressuring Big Tech to make it easier for people to fix their smartphones, Massachusetts passed a law explicitly giving consumers the right to repair their cars. Now, that right is under threat. A pending federal lawsuit could decide its fate — and in so doing, transform the auto repair landscape at a time when cars increasingly resemble giant computers.
The lawsuit in question, Alliance for Automotive Innovation v. Maura Healey, concerns a ballot measure Bay State voters overwhelmingly approved in 2020. That so-called Data Access Law requires that automakers grant car owners and independent repair shops access to vehicle “telematics,” data that cars transmit wirelessly to the manufacturer. Proponents of the law say giving owners control over this data will help level the playing field for auto repair as the computerization and electrification of cars create new challenges for independent shops. Not doing so could give manufacturers a competitive advantage over repair, one that consumer advocates fear will lead to fewer options, higher prices, and ultimately, cars getting junked faster.