Right to Repair

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Diane freeman AARO president portrait
Diane Freeman. PHOTO Diane Freeman

Will what’s happening in the U.S. affect us here in Canada?

The Massachusetts Right to Repair Initiative, also known as Question 1, appeared on the Massachusetts 2020 general election ballot as an initiated state statute.It was approved by voters and will update the state’s right to repair laws to include electronic vehicle data.

Question: Do you approve of a law summarized below, on which no vote was taken by the Senate or the House of Representatives on or before May 5, 2020? This proposed law would require that motor vehicle owners and independent repair facilities be provided with expanded access to mechanical data related to vehicle maintenance and repair. Starting with model year 2022, the proposed law would require manufacturers of motor vehicles sold in Massachusetts to equip any such vehicles that use telematics systems—systems that collect and wirelessly transmit mechanical data to a remote server—with a standardized open access data platform.

Aftermarket data retrieval

Owners of motor vehicles with telematics systems would get access to mechanical data through a mobile device application. With vehicle owner authorization, independent repair facilities (those not affiliated with a manufacturer) and independent dealerships would be able to retrieve mechanical data from and send commands to, the vehicle for repair, maintenance, and diagnostic testing.

Being able to retrieve repair information and sending commands to the vehicle is key for aftermarket technicians to repair today’s (and tomorrow’s) vehicles. PHOTO Identifix

Under the proposed law, manufacturers would not be allowed to require authorization before owners or repair facilities could access mechanical data stored in a motor vehicle’s onboard diagnostic system, except through an authorization process standardized across all makes and models and administered by an entity unaffiliated with the manufacturer.

The proposed law would require the Attorney General to prepare a notice for prospective motor vehicle owners and lessees explaining telematics systems and the proposed law’s requirements concerning access to the vehicle’s mechanical data.

Under the proposed law, dealers would have to provide prospective owners with, and prospective owners would have to acknowledge receipt of, the notice before buying or leasing a vehicle. Failure to comply with these notice requirements would subject motor vehicle dealers to sanctions by the applicable licensing authority. Motor vehicle owners and independent repair facilities could enforce this law through state consumer protection laws and recover civil penalties of the greater of treble damages or $10,000 per violation.

Scare tactics were on TV commercials and ads running in the U.S. to prevent consumers from choosing where to take their vehicles and allow the information to go to their independent auto repair shop.


The automakers filed a lawsuit before the U.S. courts to stop the approval of the aftermarket getting access to telematics on the consumers’ vehicles.

Automakers are pushing hard to get this delayed until 2025 while the efforts of the aftermarket are to get changes to the existing law to include telematics and allow access to wireless technology to choose where to have their vehicles repaired. Allowing consumers, the right to choose will prevent the dealerships from monopolizing the repairs on the newer vehicles and higher prices for repairs.

The aftermarket isn’t looking for personal data or data that the automakers consider to be intellectual property–we only want to be able to retrieve mechanical data from, and send commands to, the vehicle for repair, maintenance, and diagnostic testing the but to have access to the codes and repair the vehicles only.

The Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO) recognizes that the Right to Repair issue is vital to our industry and meetings with the government will take place in 2022.  We are asking our members to contact their MPPs to discuss how the consumer needs to have a choice where to take their vehicle for repairs, maintenance, and diagnostics. AARO is your voice for the grassroots industry and you can contact us for more information toll-free at 1-800-268-5400.

Diane Freeman is Executive Director of the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO). You can reach her at [email protected]


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