Right to Repair Impacts the Quick Lube Industry, Too

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Oct. 8, 2020—While the 2020 Election will focus on the big-ticket presidential race, another battle on Nov. 3 will be the center of attention for the automotive industry in the Bay State: Right to Repair.

A successful 2012 Right-to-Repair ballot question and the subsequent 2013 law passed in Massachusetts, but it exempted telematics data from being made accessible to all repairers. That included “remote diagnostics.” Advocates for Right to Repair call this a “loophole” in the fine print.

This 2020 ballot question in the same state would bring wireless information, telematics, into the fold and require information to be accessible by independent repairers via a standardized platform.

Joanna Johnson, policy advisor for the Automotive Oil Change Association, says she has been fighting alongside the industry on this issue.

“Everything can get a lot worse, but it’s already a problem, and it will become more of an issue if we don't fight this,” she says.


Industry Ties

According to Johnson, Right to Repair has ties to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which prohibits OEMs from branding products and services strictly to the vehicles they manufacture and providing access for all repairers in the industry, including on telematics. She says it’s all about this topic of how to keep the market competitive when manufacturers are trying to take over.

While this mainly applies to auto repair shop facilities, it's not far off from affecting the quick lube industry, too. If this law is passed, she says it can cut down and or eliminate independent businesses altogether.

"The fast lube industry and consumers are always in the same boat," she says.

Johnson says she's sat in on some meetings on the topic, and all of the major manufacturers have said their end game is to bolster the market share for “authorized” service providers, meaning the manufacturers will only give authorization to dealers or will limit access to independents—even turning it into paid access to each vehicle subsystem.

"The point is, if they retain total control on the telematics side, they can do it any which way they want," Johnson says. "It basically turns the car into an ATM."

Johnson encourages shops to promote the Right to Repair initiative in Massachusetts. Currently, she is working with the AOCA on this issue, and she says quick lube operators should, too. She also urges operators to share an image with the AOCA of oil life monitors the refer drivers to dealers. Here's an example of a message from a 2019 Mazda 3:

right to repair

"Every time you see that, send that to us," Johnson says. "It's a perfect example of a level of control that no one else can touch."

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