Maine’s attorney general signed a letter Monday expressing support for a national right-to-repair law similar to a proposal in Maine that is likely headed to a statewide vote this fall.

Attorney General Aaron Frey joined counterparts from 27 other states urging congressional leaders to approve a national law that would give the owners of automobiles, agricultural equipment and digital electronic devices other options besides manufacturers for having vehicles and other equipment repaired.

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey Press Herald photo

Advocates say the legislation would lower costs for consumers by providing a standardized, accessible data and diagnostics platform for vehicle owners or repair shops to connect to, and allowing repair shops to use alternative or off-market parts rather than those sold by manufacturers.

The letter urges congressional leaders to pass sweeping right-to-repair legislation, citing the Save Money on Auto Repair Transportation Act (SMART) and the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair Act (REPAIR), both reintroduced in the U.S. House this year, as having the most impact for consumers. The letter was sent to leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

The federal laws, if approved, would counter anticompetitive practices by original equipment manufacturers, which restrict access to technology and embedded electronics. The attorneys general said allowing OEMs to control access to the technology amounts to an unfair restraint of trade and a monopoly on repairs, which harms consumers by driving up prices.

“The Right-To-Repair is a bipartisan issue that impacts every consumer, household and farm in a time of increasing inflation,” the attorneys general wrote. “It is about ensuring that consumers have choices as to who, where, when and at what cost their vehicles can be repaired. It is about ensuring small automobile businesses and mom and pop auto shops can remain competitive against a closed system favored by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).”


The attorneys general said the legislation would also allow consumers to have their smartphones fixed at small, independent repair shops for a fraction of the cost of sending the devices back to the manufacturer for repair or buying a new one. It would allow farmers to repair their tractors and other equipment for a reasonable price and quickly enough to harvest crops.

“Manufacturing of automobiles, digital devices, and agricultural equipment is increasingly becoming more technologically advanced and built with more embedded electronics,” they said. “OEMs often control access to these electronic parts, creating unfair restraint of trade and a monopoly on repair. This can harm consumers directly by driving up prices and is antithetical to a free market.”

Mike Higgins of Mike Higgins Auto, left, works to install a splash field on a vehicle in Kittery last summer. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

In February, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office confirmed that a “right to repair” petition had enough valid signatures to send it to the Legislature, which can either pass the measure or send it to state voters in November.

Maine repair shop owners, employees and supporters want access to data collected by wireless technology in new cars and trucks – not having access effectively forces vehicle owners to go to a dealership to have problems diagnosed and repaired.

While older vehicle models have plug-in engine diagnostic systems that must be accessible to independent repair shops, new models have wireless technology, also known as telematics, that transmits directly to vehicle manufacturers and is not accessible to independently owned shops.

The proposal would ensure that vehicle owners and independent repair shops can access on-board diagnostic systems, allowing car and truck owners to use independent shops for repairs.

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