Fighting for the Right to Repair

Understanding how the REPAIR Act could impact your shop

Thursday, December 7, 2023 | Winter 2023

As the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act contin- ues to gain momentum in Congress, shop owners are working hard to make a case for easy access to important diagnostic information. The bipartisan bill will ensure that consumers have a choice in how and where they get their vehicle repaired and prevent manufacturers from blocking access to aftermarket parts and crucial diagnostic information. MWACA sat down with shop owners Kathleen Callahan and Ross Colket to hear their perspectives on the impact the REPAIR Act could have on the industry.

Ross Colket is the owner of Colket Automotive Technical Services in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, and is the 2022 Auto Value & Bumper to Bumper Technician of the Year.




Kathleen Callahan is shop owner of Xpertech Auto Repair in Engelwood, Florida, and highly involved in her local community, the incoming vice chair of Women in Auto Care (WiAC), and in September 2023, testified as an expert witness in front of U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce supporting HR 906: The REPAIR Act.




MWACA: How would the Right to Repair legislation impact the automo- tive repair industry

Callahan: I believe that if the REPAIR Act is passed into legislation, we will be guaranteed equal access to data as the dealerships, and we will be able to remain competitive and continue to serve our clients in a professional manner. If it isn't codified, we are relying on the manufacturer to continuously provide the data they feel is important to us, which, as we currently see, is not always the same as dealerships have available.

Colket: It will level the playing field for the independents, franchises, and dealerships regarding knowledge level. As an indepen- dent shop, I feel we have to be more skilled than dealer-level technicians in working on all car lines instead of just working on one car line. Having access to manufacturer-level information will absolutely help us to accel- erate the repair process, thereby reducing repair times.

MWACA: What challenges have you personally experienced that led you to support the Right to Repair Act?

Callahan: My shop has made the decision to no longer service European vehicles due to the difficulty of obtaining accurate repair and diagnostic information. We recently paid an additional fee to AutoOps so we could access basic DTC data for a Jeep. Although it was only $50, it is still an additional barrier to entry that could significantly impact smaller shops, and the fees could keep small busi- nesses from servicing their communities as they currently do.

Colket: There have been several times when we were unable to locate the required infor- mation in aftermarket information systems. As a result, we were forced to purchase a subscription to the manufacturer's website to find the information we required to diagnose the vehicle properly. We are fortunate that we are a larger shop and can afford to do this. We have been lucky that, so far, the subscriptions have been inexpensive, and we simply passed the cost onto the final receipt. Some of the subscriptions can be quite expensive, and it would not be practical to pass the larger subscription prices to the customer.

MWACA: Would the legislation lead to more competitive pricing in the industry?

Callahan: I don't think legislation would lead to more competitive pricing. I believe it would continue the ability to keep pricing fair between dealerships and independent shops. As technology advances, we are relying more on programming and calibration. If legislation is not passed, dealerships would have the ability to charge any fee they wish for these services. The aftermarket keeps those prices fair to the consumer.

Colket: Yes, I do think it would lead to more competitive pricing. Everyone would have the same amount of information at that point. Something that we have to keep in mind is that people may forget that the Right to Repair will NOT include free access to repro- gramming. There will still be a cost involved in that. It is not fair to the manufacturer to expect this. They will have to increase their hardware to support the bandwidth of tech- nicians accessing their information.

Check-in with your state’s legislation around the REPAIR Act as we continue to fight for the right to repair.